08 March 2012

The Great Unwritten Contract with Advertisers

Excerpt from The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture

Billboards are a symptom of a large, growing problem in the age of
persuasion. While much of the work is highly creative, it, like many
other media, must figure out a way to honour an implicit contract
between advertisers and consumers which, simply put, promises that
advertisers must give you something in exchange for their imposition on
your time, attention, and space.

An ad might offer useful information,
an insight, or a solution to a problem. It might help pay for the TV
show you’re watching or the magazine you’re reading. It might simply
entertain you. The key is that it offers some tangible benefit.

Your job as a consumer is to discern which marketers are keeping
their end of the bargain and which are not. With that knowledge,
you’ll have the power to reward the honest brokers and punish the
transgressors. I suspect few people realize they have that power, but
they— that is, you— really do.

A simple letter of complaint to a brand’s
corporate headquarters can have a profound effect: I’ve seen major
campaigns radically altered in response to a handful of complaints.
On a larger scale, consumers can— and do— vote with their wallets.