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graph : US advertising, 2005

Freedom from advertising: a small step but cheerful. Last week I have reduced our cable TV service from 78 channels (Extended Basic) to 33 channels (Limited Basic). I canít stand the commercials both by volume and by content, so arrogantly plugged into regular programs. Iíve tried several technics to minimize the ad nonsense: muting the sound during commercials, channel switching during commercials, recording selected programs and then zapping the commercials during replay, etc. However, all these technics require my action and consequently they do not eliminate the main sin of TV advertising: the interruption of my thoughts chain related to a particular program.

Recently Iíve realized there are quite a few channels Iím avoiding because of the commercials. So, why pay for them? Letís reduce the number of channels! Canceling the cable TV service altogether is a likely next step.

Practically everyone dislikes it. Advertising interrupts radio and television programs, crowds editorial matter off the pages of newspapers and magazines, disfigures city streets, defaces the countryside and even lurks at eye level for tired, vulnerable standees on the subway. Nobody believes it, or at least admits to believing it. It usually appeals to the less agreeable aspects of human nature: greed, vanity, insecurity, competitiveness, materialism. At cocktail parties, people in the advertising business wince when asked what they do for a living.

But there it is, one of the dominant forces in twentieth-century America. [...] More broadly, I have tried to understand the relationship between advertising and American culture. I started this book, as an observer of contemporary America, with the impression that advertising wields substantial independent power to create and shape mass tastes and behavior. Now, after changing my mind a couple of times while writing this book [...] I would merely suggest that advertising has become a prime scapegoat for our times: a convenient, obvious target for critics who should be looking at the deeper cultural tendencies that only find reflection in the advertising mirror.

Stephen Fox: Introduction to Mirror makers, A history of American advertising and its creators, Morrow&Co., New York, 1984.

AdAge magazine's online Data Center has tons of statistics, but you have to pay to see reports more than 30 days after they're published. However, if you're looking for how much major brands have spent on advertising over the past few years, the world's top advertisers and other detailed data, this is an excellent, reliable source.

April 2004: A Yankelovich Partners poll for the American Association of Advertising Agencies found that a majority of Americans are increasingly annoyed by the tidal wave of advertising they are exposed to:

65% said they believed that they "are constantly

bombarded with too much" advertising;

61% agreed that the amount of advertising and marketing

to which they are exposed "is out of control";

60% said their opinion of advertising "is much more

negative than just a few years ago";

54% of the survey respondents said they "avoid buying

products that overwhelm them with advertising and marketing";

69% said they "are interested in products and services

that would help them skip or block marketing".

Media Literacy : http://www1.medialiteracy.com/stats_advertising.jsp

On the relationship between advertising and American culture, I consider advertising as a substantial tool in the subduing of an average American citizen into an average American idiot.

I canít believe that above percentages are so low.

But then ... see the comment on the left.

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