Satan's Little Helpers
I've tried to fake it over the years. I've tried to care. But pro sports just don't feel important to me. They don't feel real. They've always just felt like a marketing vehicle. A void filler. When there are so many other things to fill your time with, sports just feel like a time suck. I'll go to a baseball game or two every year. But that's more about hanging with my friends and having a beer. I don't watch sports on tv. I don't read the Sports section in the newspaper.
I'm in the office pool, and in Nick's. But that's about it.
A few years ago, one of my coworkers was very enthusiastic about a marketing gimmick that a Japanese company was doing, leaving wallets in taxis. People who would find the wallets would be greeted with a "guerilla" marketing message. I thought it was tactless. It exploited both high and low. People who would try to profit on someone else's misfortune would not be someone I'd want as a customer. And people who would be trying to perform an altruistic act, and find out their attention was co-opted by a marketing message, would feel stupid. Just kind of gross. This tactic has been used several times by U.S. marketers lately. And I still find it repulsive.
About the same time, I was out watching a baseball game with the Abominable Dr. Sardonic. I was pointing out the green screen effect behind a batter. When the screen showed the pitcher ready to throw a ball, there would be an ad on the dugout wall, just to the left of the batter. But in a close-up of the batter, you could see a corner of the greenscreen, with no ad in view. The ads were inserted only in the fullscreen shot. This is a way for them to sell different ad space, every inning, without having to have a physical ad in the stadium. I called foul. My take is, when you're showing an event on tv, you should show the event, as it happens. Any chyrons (on screen overlays) should be clearly separate from the reality on the field.
My point with each of these things is, marketing is an intrusion. Advertising is the price we pay for the subsidized delivery of creative content. And it should be something we consent to. Guerilla marketing takes advantage of our goodwill. And I choose not to consent to it. I won't watch professional sports on tv anymore. I just can't stand the advertising overload. I can't even listen to them on the radio. The marketing messages are built in to the play-by-play relentlessly.
I was in a supermarket checkout lane with my Dad. I was probably 10 or 11. It was the weekend of the Super Bowl. Another man in line turned to my Dad and asked him who he was rooting for. My dad didn't really seem to register what the man was talking about for a few seconds, then said, "I don't really follow the game." It wasn't really clear if my Dad knew what game he was referring to. The other man looked at my Dad with an expression that I could best label an emasculating incredulity.
I wasn't brought up to find sports important. Or religion. I really ought to be more appreciative to my parents.
Labels: grouchy old man