Ad Creep

When you hear a highly-paid athlete say about a new contract, "It's not about the money" -- you can bet it's about the money. Likewise, when you hear a corporate chieftain say about a new advertising campaign, "It's not meant to be intrusive" -- you can bet it's meant to be very intrusive.

Indeed, the very idea of advertisers is to intrude into your head, doing whatever it takes to get there and plant a brand name like some alien pod of commercialization. Take the exec who made the "not intrusive" assertion. He's a Toyota honcho, and he just ponied up $100 million for branding rights to the basketball stadium in Houston.

That means that this taxpayer built facility will now be called the Toyota Center, it'll be covered inside and out with Toyota's logo and ads, its lounge will be named Lexus Lounge, its parking garage will be named for Toyota's Tundra trucks, it will have Toyota vehicles positioned prominently throughout the arena, and there'll be a Toyota sales office at the games, staffed with sales reps hawking the cars. But at least it's "not meant to be intrusive."

Then there's the brand new public monorail system in Las Vegas. Its naming rights are being sold to corporations that'll plaster the place with their logos and ads -- as though they own it.

First to buy into this monorail was Nextel, the phone huckster. For $50 million,you'll have one of the system's trains covered with its corporate colors, name, logo, and other promos. One of the monorail's train stops will be named the Nextel station, complete with a store, and a "Nexpert bar" staffed with employees promoting products. Yet, Nextel's VP for marketing says: "I'm sensitive to the issue of over commercialization."

Yeah, like a hog is sensitive to overeating. You want sensitive? The ad agency peddling the people's monorail says it doesn't see the system as transportation, but as "transpertainment."

Take me now, Lord, I've lived too long.


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