Citizens for Clean Air in Apartments


The Ad and the Ego
What is it about advertisements that is so pleasing to the ego? Karla Esquivel-Rael posed this question in her review of Harold Boihem's new film, The Ad and the Ego (see Weekly Alibi Feb. 4-10, 1999). Boihem's work won first place for best documentary at the San Francisco Golden Gate Film Festival.

Social observers recognize that children will stop everything they are doing to turn and watch a TV commercial. Adults are seduced daily by slick magazine ads and colorful billboards designed to sell instant lifestyles. Each week thousands of ads blur past our eyes and settle somewhere deep in our subconscious. Espuivel-Rael states that, "Somehow, while we weren't looking, ads became as much a part of the American psyche as baseball."

Boihem's film exposes just how nasty and ridiculous the corporate world of advertising really is. The film focuses on the fact that it isn't just one or two ads that effect us - we are surrounded and affected by the very culture of advertising our entire lives. Boihem believes his film is especially beneficial for teens because they will be "the next group targeted by the advertising machine."

Unfortunately, Boihem is wrong on this point. Teens are already, and have been for some time, the focus of the manipulations of advertising. From the advertising publication Creativity, (December 1998, p.8) the author states that the demographics we consider desirable are "ages 12 to 24, with an occasional stretch to 30."

This thought-provoking work does not resolve this issue, but it does challenge viewers to decide what they can do about the advertising monster.

Wise consumers should try to be "very conscious of the ads they see." One powerful tool is to take advertisements out of context to see the true motivation behind them. Mark Hosler, member of the band Negativland which provided the sound design for the film, offers this advice, "The most you can do is practice a mental defense."

Great advice, Mark, but how do children and teens accomplish this? Adults with their years of "street smarts" are very poor at filtering fact from fiction. We cannot expect our kids to be born with these keen senses. The tobacco industry claims they do not market to teens. Yet they admit they target young adults. They design ads for 18 and 19 year olds, are we to believe that kids of 15, 16 or 17 are not affected? You know they are -- the tobacco industry knows this as well.
Take the CCAA test, click here and tell us what age group is targeted in the following advertising spot.
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