Sunday, August 16, 2015

Vol #2, Col #14: How about a Little Substance Between all that “Fluff”?

I recently found myself quite bored at my day job. Almost always there’s something for me to do to chip away at the old 9-5 (either work-related or personal). But this past Sunday, with no new client inquiries and prime touring season yet to take hold, I found myself in a situation that proves rare in my life: I had TOO MUCH free time! Anticipating that we wouldn’t get hit with a sudden influx of activity (I had worked the day prior and it was much the same), I planned in advance. From a stack that’s been building up since last April (no word of a lie), I gathered some 10 magazines in hope they would provide me with some amusement as a means to pass the time.

Admittedly, it’s been a long time since I’ve even conceived of having a moment to sit back, relax, and delve into something non-academic or career-oriented; given this, I prepared myself for a very different reading experience, prior to cracking open the spines. While I’ve never held delusions that women’s fashion magazines primarily contain in-depth thoughtful analyses of the modern world, at one point in between the hair colour, acne, and jewelry ads, there was room for cheeky editorials, touching personal stories or at least somewhat interesting featurettes…apparently NOT anymore.

Ad after ad after ad followed by thinly veiled “fluff” pieces for companies no doubt contributing to the magazines’ payroll, and yet MORE ads is what I encountered. Christ, I couldn’t even read the sections regarding health advice, without having products pushed in my direction that would no doubt “cure” the very ailments that were being discussed. Coincidental? I think not!

The sections, however, I found most “interesting” (and I use that term loosely) were those of the “readers’ letters” in which women (and I suppose perhaps the occasional man) sent in their praises for their favourite mags and all they have to offer. Seeing as I’ve previously established that beyond being pimps for consumerism and materialism the magazines collectively lacked altogether in the substance department, I came to the conclusion that these so-called “readers” must too either be on the magazines’ payroll, or at the very least work for the companies who got sweet deals on their advertising rates.

A recent attempt at watching a little on the boobtube proved equally disappointing. My viewing experience, one that was sub-par at best (and I’m talking about when the program was actually ON) ended rather abruptly when I just couldn’t deal with being inundated with commercial, after commercial any longer. If there’s anyone out there my age or younger who STILL listens to the radio by CHOICE (ie: NOT because it plays in the background at your workplace), you’ll find much the same: the sheer volume of campaigns for publicity completely overpower any sense of enjoyment and entertainment the media once offered. Ironically, ads that I once upon a time looked forward to taking in (ie: the “coming attractions” and “coming soon to DVD” trailers that previously held homes on movies you rent from the store) have been for all intents and purposes eliminated!

I will give marketers that in today’s oversaturated and over-stimulated world, reaching let alone maintaining the interest of a given target population is proving increasingly difficult (hence, why we are now seeing annoying efforts to have our social networking sites fully infiltrated with promotions for this thing and the next). With that said however, I’d like to point out there are certain products and services that, at this point, really do NOT need to be promoted, even if they’ve undergone “makeovers” or have had “improvements” made to their model. Perhaps advertisers are aware of this fact and simply don’t want to lose their jobs? Let’s take something as common sense as the razor blade:

Frankly, I personally don’t really care if I’m buying “no name” or store brand so long as I’m getting the specifications I desire fulfilled. Price too, weighs heavily into the equation. Do I really need to see yet another Mach Three or Daisy Razor commercial demonstrating their ever expanding razor heads? Not really. I know what works for me. I know what doesn’t. I can’t be the only one.

This trend toward “OVER-advertising” is certainly not helping any, given our current economic state. People are down and out because of money problems, work stresses, and/or familial discord. Consumerism is championed as the cure. Rather than address the TRUE issues that underlie their malaise, people are being taught they can have it all if they continue to spiral into debt by gratifying their needs in an immediate and superficial manner through impulse buying. Need I point out, in the immortal albeit paraphrased words of The Beatles, “you can’t buy me [or anyone else] love.”