Thursday, November 23, 2006

Gullibility and advertising

click photo to enlarge
If someone knocked on my door and said they'd like to fix an advertising hoarding to the side of my house I'd tell them to get lost. But, if I needed some additional income, my first question would be, "How much are you prepared to pay?" Undoubtedly they would make me an offer: no one would expect to use a building for advertising without paying for the privilege. It would then be up to me to decide whether the sum proffered was enough.

That being the case, why is it, when it comes to companies advertising themselves on clothing, the general public is asked to pay a premium to the company to allow this to happen? Moreover, what makes shoppers actively seek out merchandise with the favoured names prominently displayed, and agree to this extortion? Surely if someone wants to sell me a T-shirt with a brand name or advertising slogan emblazoned across the front, or even placed discreetly on the chest, I should be offered the garment for less than a comparable T-shirt with no advertising? That seems only fair because I'm acting as part of the company's advertising arm - and doing it for free! The only conclusion to be drawn from this amazing state of affairs is that we, the general public, are gullible saps! And that retailers and advertisers are very clever people who should be employing their undoubted talents in more socially useful ways.

That train of thought, which I've puzzled over for many years, came to me as I processed this shot of a lonely can, on a wet table amid cafe furniture, at Lytham, Lancashire. The prominent name is one of those to be found on many items, from drinks to clothing to clocks, and which are sold at a premium because of the cache of the brand. The flash of red amid a silver and grey background drew my eye. I framed the shot with the can in the top right corner. It was one of those wet one minute, dry the next days. Consequently I had the camera ISO at 200 and set to Program, so that I could snatch shots quickly. That produced f4.5 at 1/250 sec: quite appropriate for a long zoom at 148mm (35mm equivalent).
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen