Saturday, April 27, 2013

Advertising puzzles me

click photo to enlarge
Ever since the invention of the TV remote control our household has muted the adverts. Consequently I am unable to take part in conversations about such things since, while I may have seen the advert in question I won't have heard it. Choosing to avoid advertisements seems to me a perfectly reasonable thing to do, though I know not everyone will agree. The fact is I can't understand why we should willingly co-operate with companies trying to sell us things we neither want or need.

The particular pitches that advertisers choose puzzles me too. Take celebrity endorsement. We all know that such people are paid to either wear, use or promote the product in question. That being the case, why would we be influenced by the blandishments of David Beckham, George Clooney, Sienna Miller (whoever she is) or anyone else? Or what about the way so-called "up-market", that is to say expensive, products are sold. Muted, often monochrome colours, plenty of white space in print advertisements, few words but in classic fonts, "under-stated" design, models that don't smile and other "less is more" tricks are used to suggest that a product sits at the top of its market. But if all this is obvious - and surely it is - why do advertisers persist with it and why are buyers influenced by it? Perhaps the pitches are not as unsubtle as I think, or maybe people want to believe it all and suspend their critical faculties in such situations.

I pondered advertising methods recently after coming upon a whisky company publicising its wares outside The Design Museum in London. They'd set up a framework from which models of dark clouds were suspended, a sound system was simulating thunder, flashing lights represented lightning, and heavy rain periodically fell on members of the public who volunteered to stand in the centre of all this wearing brand name-emblazoned waterproofs  and similarly badged umbrellas. Apparently the word "storm" featured in the whisky's name and the "weather" was intended to give the public a taste of what is regularly experienced on the Isle of Skye whence the drink comes. Oh, and the lucky punters who subjected themselves to this ordeal had the chance to win a bottle of the beverage. I suppose my reaction could be best described as bemused, so i took a couple of photographs and walked on.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 37.1mm (100mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f4.9
Shutter Speed: 1/80
ISO: 800
Exposure Compensation:  0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On