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Advertising's in the toilet

User-generated content has become the hottest thing in the ad world since Al Gore invented the Tri-W. However, it’s been around for decades.  Going out to select bars and events in our fair town, I’ve become aware of this fact all too well.  User-generated content has been right under my nose (pun intended) many times I’ve used public facilities.

For instance, I was (let’s call it “going tinkle”) in a local bar recently when I noticed some user-generated content informing me that the “Brewers Sucked.”  It had been carved into the paint of a stall.  Below that statement was a snarky counterpoint that read: “Cubs Suck, and You Suck Too.”

Good comeback, I thought.

The latter was written in ballpoint.  It made me think -- I never have a pen handy while I’m “doing my bizzness.”  I also wondered how long it took the Brewers opponent to carve out his opinion. 

There are two key principles to Out-of-home advertising: placement and economy of message.  I nearly missed the “headline” that read: “Craig G. is a homo” scribbled underneath a paper dispenser in permanent Sharpie.  A Sharpie?  Bully to the gent so thoughtful as to bring a permanent marker to the WC.  But an eye-level placement would have served his message much better. 

From time to time, you see long-form prose -- usually a satire or rhyme -- and it’s lost on me.  The audience has little time to spend on such literature, unless one is seated for a while.  At which point, the placement should be lower in the stall for ease of reading.  All of these factors need to be taken into consideration when bathroom blogging.

As with Wikipedia, some messages are edited by several users to form a complete and unbiased definition.  The statement I read referring to, “Karen M’s proficiency at sexual gratification,” was edited by four different visitors.  Opinions varied, but all seemed rather positive.  The last posting seemed not to know Karen personally…


Out: Drive-ins, In: Drive-bys

I enjoy my job.  I enjoy creating ads.  I even enjoy being a consumer of ads (the good ones).  However, not all forms of advertising contribute to the upswing of our culture.

Driving around town these days we get to enjoy outdoor ads on “the big screen.”  Yes, children, the FUTURE IS NOW.  There are a handful of digital outdoor boards that currently dot the freeways of M’waukee.  To be exact, there are 10 boards available in the Milwaukee area (six of which must be bought as a network), and advertising sales folks are gunning for expansion. 

You can’t miss ‘em.  These “Vegas-style” ads glow brightly enough for the good people of Michigan to read them.  I don’t mind so much the tasteful designs or clever headlines, but they seem to be in the minority.  Most of the time it’s too-large type fortified with gaudy, discount-store colors.  Why, people?  No need to be so loud with your message.  It’s already 48 feet wide and ablaze with light.

Yelling at someone who doesn’t speak your language does not make it easier for them to understand you.

Plus, the messages on these digital manifestations of attention-deficit-disorder change every 60 seconds.  I’ve heard ugly rumors that some ad pros are lobbying for a six-second rotation.  I’m not sure how much pummeling my senses can take.  Or how many fender-benders my 4-Runner can take.

With the advent of these super-sized plasmas comes more responsibility: more taste.  Let’s not suck the art out of our lives with bad advertising.  Let’s wield this new weapon sweetly.  Otherwise, I vote we all pull over during drive-time and pop a DVD up on one of those muthas.  Anyone up for a little 48-foot wide “Grindhouse”?