- 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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