HIGHTOWER: 6,000 Blinks a Day

What do bananas, buses and bathroom urinals have in common?They've all become spaces for corporations to plaster more of their advertising. If you can find any surface in our society that does not yet have an ad for Budwieser, M&Ms, Nike, Visa, BankOne or some such slapped on it, try to get it declared a historic site, because you can bet some company's got designs on it.Already there are ads on small screens that jabber at you while you pump your gas, while you use your ATM machine and while you wait in the supermarket line. There are specially-imprinted floor tiles to put product promos literally under the feet of kids in schools and shoppers in grocery stores, there are ads on the luggage carousels at airports and there even are ads on the stall doors of bathrooms at restaurants and bars. Think about that -- We can't even be alone in the bathroom! A sales rep for a company selling these toilet ads brags that "the average viewer is in front of our ad for three minutes. They really have no choice but to look."Indeed, those who are spending nearly 4 billion a year on what is called "out-of-home" media view us as nothing but receptors. They've figured out that the typical human blinks 6,000 times a day -- and their ambition is to have something in front of us with each blink.What they haven't figured out is how to keep this blitzkrieg from annoying us to the point we stop buying the stuff they've advertised. As Kenna Nevill of Dallas told the New York Times after finding tiny ads for a movie stuck on each apple in the grocery bin: "I didn't want my apple defiled with advertisements. I get frustrated with ads everywhere you look."This is Jim Hightower saying ... You're not alone Kenna. The good news is that people are beginning to fight back against this advertising excess -- especially when it's directed to children. To join them, contact the Center for Media Education at 202/628-2620.Source: "Fruit to walls to floor, ads are on the march" by Carol Marie Cropper. New York Times: Feb. 26, 1998. "Stop, I'm drowning in commercials" by Rhoda Karpatkin. Consumer Reports: February 1998. "Greyhound turns buses into rolling billboards" by Bruce Horovitz. USA Today: July 2, 1997. "Give us a break." Newsweek: March 9, 1998.

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