Advertising executives must be creaming their jeans. It used to be that when commercials came on TV you would go get a snack in the kitchen or check out another channel– despite the major networks’ attempts to synchronize their schedules basic cable would run their ads at different times. With the advent of Tivo many people might have thought the jig was up, but advertising on the internet has become more sophisticated and cunning. Ah, glory days of the past before banner ads, pop-ups and bitverps when you could stroll free down the information superhighway and look at porn without being assailed by billboards.
As potential consumers adapt to ignoring new varieties of advertising the methods of selling ideas have had to change. Obviously the best manner of doing so is by presenting ads as something other than what they are. When I was growing up I would periodically stay with my grandparents who refused to let cartoons run rampant on the screen. Why? Because they’re half hour commercials for toys, and you should go play outside anyways.
Somewhere in between the blatant and sublime new techniques for advertisements to appeal to increasingly factionalized demographic groups have been developed. American Apparel didn’t grow into the incredibly popular brand that it has because of socially popular business practices but because they figured out that reintroducing re-tread fashion concepts and washed out pornography techniques would appeal to their upwardly mobile but irony-for-fun audience. Target re-branded itself with yesterday’s hot indie-rock acts and a distance from its roots as a K-Mart styled big-box chain. Now Burger King is attempting to captivate audiences with a documentary approach to selling burgers with their Whopper Virgins movie.
According to the internet Stacy Peralta, who broke into Hollywood with Dogtown and Z-Boys, was tapped to use the vast resources of the international entity including their fleet of private jets, helicopters, and marketing budget to travel the globe seeking out isolated populations who have never enjoyed our most famous dish of American cuisine. Which is better, these anthropological artifacts will be asked, the Whopper or the Big Mac? Actually I find it hard to fathom that there actually is a documentary gearing up for airing, rather a pre-movie buzz has been created for a couple half minute spots that will subvert the guerillaesque style we now associate with documentaries.
I’m not as concerned with the cultural hegemony of seeking out new populations and insisting they cram processed meat and chemical flavoring down their gullets as Kate at Toxic Culture seems to be, nor do I think that the Inuit or rural Romanians will soon find their rates of obesity skyrocketing due to saturated fats. I’m not even bothered by the further co-opting of culture in the name of the almighty dollar. What’s shocking to me is that it’s still worth investing gross amounts of money to sell people gross fast food, and what’s worse is that this will probably work.