Local reporting ruminations

Advertising Overload

This post is a tirade against the ever-increasing presence of advertising in my life, prompted by attending a University of Michigan basketball game.

I went to the Crisler Center last night, where Michigan lost an exciting shootout against Long Beach State. It was entertaining. Both teams were very talented and tried hard.

I make it to a couple of Michigan sports events each year and will crown Michigan Athletics the victors and the best… at cramming advertisements into the experience. Always innovating. I’d love to see a photo series showing the interior of the Crisler Center over the decades, documenting the creep of ads.

How many ads would you think can be placed on the basket itself? Let’s count. Here’s the view of the near hoop from my seats:

That’s between four and six ads, depending on how you count: the base pad, the vertical pad (“meijer meijer meijer” lol), the State Farm pad by the rim, and a freaking TV ad mounted up top. Now let’s look to the other hoop and see what’s facing the court:

From this angle we can see there’s also the UMCU ad and the Libman ad. Each basket is adorned with seven corporate logos plus a TV that plays ads for Coke Zero and Jersey Mike’s. I wonder how many ads I saw over the course of the game. Dozens? Hundreds?

It’s gross and pathetic. It’s not enough that fans buy tickets to watch nominally-amateur athletics at a nominally-nonprofit institute of post-secondary education. No, they have to squeeze out a few more cents from each attendee by selling our attention.

It can and likely will get worse. I don’t recall an ad in the urinal, for instance. There’s only a single corporate logo on the players’ jerseys (the Nike Jumpman). And Michigan uses its giant (and flagrantly non-compliant with local ordinance) digital billboard outside the stadium solely to advertise its events. Wasted opportunities! That outdoor TV could be flashing “meijer meijer meijer” all night. Let’s go, blue!

The internet being dominated by a drive for ad revenue is bad and depressing. Real life lags in advertising permeation, thankfully, but Michigan Athletics is doing its best to keep up. This despite such wanton advertising betraying the University’s commitments to fighting climate change. Contemporary advertising levels support a degree of consumerism that is incompatible with a liveable planet.

Recommended reading beyond this simple rant: the short book Advertising Shits in Your Head. There’s a free digital version here. If you’re nearby you can borrow my paper copy. Includes a history and critical analysis of advertising.

Or watch it instead: The same produced a related video, Subvertisers for London. It has less theory and history and mostly shows clever sabotage of ads in public spaces.

There doesn’t have to be advertising everywhere! It wasn’t always like this. Maybe it won’t always be.

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