The Eye of the Fish

March 21, 2010

Advertising Nothing

In a slight digression from the normal focus of this blog, the following is an all out rant about advertising on TV – or the appalling bad nature of most of it. Is there anything that can be done? Is there any way that advertisers can be strung up and publicly garroted until they stop producing such rubbish?

Let me see if I have got this straight. Media (written, spoken, broadcast) is financed via two means: the price you pay for purchasing it, and the prices that advertisers pay to place their advertisements into that media. We know that a local newspaper, priced at $1.50 per copy and good for composting, is now really mainly a medium for placing full page adverts for New World or Countdown supermarkets before our eyeballs. Without the adverts, newspapers would cost $5 or $10 per copy. The ‘news’ contained therein is not really worth reading, being mere padding between advertising pages, as the DomPost appears to have foresaken any pretense at being a news gathering medium. But it is easily resolvable: I happily turn the page from their vulgar, double page spreads of red and yellow produce, gigantic adverts for fizzy drinks and LCD TVs. It seems strange to me that advertisers continue to place these adverts – I continue to shop at my local shop whether they advertise or not – in fact, if I shop at Moore Wilsons, who appear not to advertise at all, then really, what is the point of print media advertising at all?

Media of the radio kind is a different matter – my radio is tuned continuously only to either Radio Active, who rule supreme in the Fish Palace (go Liam Luff!), or to Radio New Zealand National, where Sean and Geoff brief me on the day ahead, Kim Hill rules the roost, so to speak, on a Saturday morning, and just once in a while Tommy Honey comes along to give us the low down on the down low. One of the key reasons I listen to those two stations, apart from the obvious quality journalism just mentioned, is that there are no adverts. Nothing could be more annoying than to have to listen to the vacuous admonishments of advertisers and broadcasters on the commercial stations of the ilk of the Rock, or the Breeze, or Michael Laws, or the Morning Crew, or whoever they are. Consequently, I realise, I am missing out not just on the adverts for the Mad Butcher, or the Insane Baker, or the Stark Raving Mad Warehouse Stationer – but also the squealing, krumping and gorming that passes for music in today’s mixed-up world. I have not, therefore, yet, knowingly heard a Lady Gaga song (should I be thankful or should I be sad?), nor do I know if Puff Daddy is still illin’ or whether Pharrell is still willing.

No doubt Robyn can put me right, she being rather bitchin’ in the medium of music, old and new. But really, have I missed anything in my non adherence to a diet of modern pop, caused by an aversion to banal radio advertising? Long may RNZ live without advertising, or else I will be living in a world of silence: I’d rather live a life without radio than have to listen to adverts.

On screen of course, pop-ups rule supreme. Google grows ever larger due to people clicking on their advertising links, but you’ll notice that there are no adverts here on Eye of the Fish. We spare you your eyeballs.

But then it comes to telly, and really, there is no escape. There is something bewitching about the screen: even with the sound down or off, we can hardly tear our eyes away. Even if you dash for the remote and frantically stab at buttons to find another channel, the accursed adverts pop up on the next channel over – the vile beasts of advertising have aligned their slots and thrust us meaninglessly into a world of Harvey Norman (Go, Harvey Norman, Go Away and Never Come Back), or Godfrey and his bloody Vacuum Cleaners. I’m working on a system whereby I will have a panic button that can swing lead lined doors over the screen at the push of a button, entrapping the screen in a vacuum of its own making. A simpler version may be to get Tivo, except I’m not on Telecom; or to get Sky, but that evil Aussie Murdoch thug is not going to get any further dollars of mine.

My reaction is a simple one: out of sheer principle, I refuse to buy products if they have a bad advertisement. Therefore, my vacuum is not from Godfreys, I have no rugs bought at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, I will not buy Colgate toothpaste ever since Mrs Marsh showed the children the “Look, it does get in” some 20 odd years ago, cheap plastic products from Briscoes never pass my doorway with that irritating harridan and her sickly sweet voice, and of course, Harvey Norman, Norman Ross, Noel Leeming et al can all go and get stuffed as well with their incessant yelling in our collective ears. It’s my firm belief that if we all had principles such as mine, and refused to buy from bad advertisers, that the quality of adverts would improve greatly.

On the other hand, if we reward advertisers who make nice adverts, by actually buying their products, perhaps the positive reinforcement feedback loop will get some more traction. Fiji may have an intolerant, illegal government, but their current dreamy advert is so beguiling that I’ll be off there like a shot to find that beguiling vixen trotting along the perfect beach (once the damage from the Cyclone has been cleared up, perhaps). Gillette’s advert for Venus is so convincing that I want to shave my legs too. The Festival of the Arts, with giant white boxes and jumping monks have convinced me out into the night air to see some shows. Why can’t all our adverts be this good? Why does New Zealand permit such terrible tosh as we have screening every night – is there no Advertising Standards group who monitor these adverts, not just for racism and sexism, but for quality, and says: Look here chaps, this really just isn’t good enough?

21 - 03 - 10

That Venus ad is appalling – can you not immediately see that those legs are out of scale with the torso…?

…And Radio Active is full of the most appalling ads also – while the anti-professional aesthetic is quite refreshing initially, it can also get quite banal after not too long…

Which all goes to show that the good ad/bad ad divide is just as unresolved as in architecture. The policy that you promote is, in actual effect, what we have – with good old democracy, as always, bringing us the most mediocre commom denominator…

21 - 03 - 10

Well hello m-d, and thank you for the very prompt comment. Yes, I couldn’t find the right link for the venus tv ad, but certainly the legs caught my little fish-eyes, as they are supposed to do. Of course, the reason is, that most of the time when you’re wading in the shallows, your legs are all that us fish get to see…

One could argue that while there is a mediator in arguing quality in buildings, yet there is nothing for Adverts on tv. If lowest common denominator is truly working, does that mean that people really do pavlovianly respond to adverts and rush out and buy this cheap crap? How many times in life does one need to buy a vacuum cleaner – and why can’t people have some self respect and avoid Godfreys?

The mediators I speak of for buildings, are of course the Urban Designers at the City Council – for which, incidentally, there is an interesting new post on at the Arch Centre here:

21 - 03 - 10

Adverts might not be architecture, but they are quite a lot like interior design. Even the bad ones tell us something specific about time and place…

21 - 03 - 10

starkive – that’s fantastic – i had no idea you were having such a sellebration – there’s a superb selection of adverts there – but not Spot the Telecom dog? I had heard it was quite good ?

21 - 03 - 10

21 - 03 - 10

Almost everyone gets to a point in their life where they give up on the top 40, and keep listening to the same sort of music they’ve grown up listening to. The worst thing you can do is be one of those “there has been no good music made since 19XX/20XX” people. The best thing you can do is still be open to the possibility of something new that you’ll love.

Lady Gaga is good. She’s a classically trained singer and pianist who is also absolutely hungry for fame. She’s grown up watching and learning from Madonna, and so has taken her raw talent and gathered a posse who have made sure that instead of being a pretty girl with a piano a la Alicia Keys, instead she’s an alien from outer space.

She writes good songs, performs them with fierce personality and has turned the music video back into the extravagant art form it once was in the time before handycam YouTube videos ruled.

If you want to start with one Gaga video, go for Bad Romance. It’s lush and extravagant and edgy, and if it works, it will at least make you wish you could maybe spend a weekend in her world.

60 MPa
21 - 03 - 10

I’m with ya on the radio front, my fine finned friend – I download NatRadio shows all the time and it’s a doddle.
Newspapers are a bit of a joke – I recommend keeping one’s recycling bin near the letterbox and dumping all junk mail straight away.
Online you’d be wise to use a good adblocker
and Mozilla or Opera.
Friends don’t let friends use Explorer.
In general avoid Microsoft wherever possible – for the same reason that you hate ads.
As for TV, you don’t need a Tivo subscription – there is a hacked-Tivo community here
Or you could go the freeware way – these guys have Mac listed as an operating system and I know how much you Architectural types like Macs..
Note on the wiki entry-
* Pause, skip, and rewind live TV shows.
* Completely automatic commercial detection and optional skipping.”

I believe that that is what you were after.

As for Fiji – try going to Nuie instead – they have very little advertising in the whole country – or so I heard today on NatRadio :)

These days the kids have got it easy because no matter whether you are cleaning a carb on a CR250 dirtbike or installing a complicated-looking piece of software, somewhere online there will be an instructional or You-Tube step-by-step.
We used to live in’t shoebox in middle a road.

21 - 03 - 10

Starkive – aaah, so that’s what all the Spot fuss was about – thanks.

Robyn – Absolutely agree that if you get to the stage of saying I hate Modern music, that you’re ossifying – and not saying at all that i feel like that – just that the stations i listen to, ie Active and National, prob tend not to play Pop. I reckon i’m getting a good dose of alternative music via the Active Airwaves, seeing as they are so diverse – Baz and Golden Handshake with the Americana show, Roots and Culture, a fair bit of Dub and Reggae etc. Just in a pop free atmosphere, due to my no-adverts rule.

Actually, I find it really weird that artists don’t sell their music with videos attached – and You Tube quality is so squitty, that its not really worth watching more than Lol cats on. The world has been making music videos for years, and the music world keeps complaining that no one is buying their singles any more – if they sold them with the video attached, i’d be a lot more inclined to buy them.

21 - 03 - 10

(5 minutes later) – having just watched You Tube video of Mrs Gaga (I don’t believe she has inherited a landed title of the gentry…) I’m inclined to agree with grooving hipster hopster Robyn – great video, catchy pop tune, lots of repetition, and heaps of scantily clad girls and boys – what’s not to like? Its certainly better than 3 hours of Avatar. But it’s also quite extraordinary that i’ve never seen or heard a second of that song before. Most odd – I presume it has been out longer than just this weekend.

22 - 03 - 10

Speaking of advertising, I’m continually amazed that architects never advertise. When there are shows like Grand Designs on TV, with a practical demonstration as to why anyone building their own house should get an architect and not try to “do it themself”, the advertising breaks are just the perfect opportunity for the NZIA or the NZRAB to get in there and advertise the services of architects.

But no, never. The architectural profession lacks gumption, and is pathetically backward.

22 - 03 - 10

Isn’t the absence of mainstream advertising in the architectural profession a gentlemanly agreement originated by the RIBA?
Also radio active’s marketing strategy just proves to me weather or not an ad is dressed up with the lastest beats and comical voices or shouted on top of a trademark jingle, It would rather listen to nationalas parliamentary audio for the absence of ads.

p.s Radio NZ is awesome.

22 - 03 - 10

Excuse the spelling

22 - 03 - 10

Architectural organisations are allowed to advertise, and bloody well should be advertising on behalf of all of us !

Incidentally, your new layout does not permit comments from my computer on Firefox, so I am doing this via your new iPhone friendly page, which, incidentally, is very nice.

22 - 03 - 10

I have experienced no difficulties when posting from Firefox.


60 MPa
22 - 03 - 10


23 - 03 - 10

Robyn, I’m not sure if I agree with you regarding the music of your youth. If that were true, I would be searching out records by the New Seekers, and Nana Mouscouri, and dancing madly to Abba. Likewise, my parents would be listening to the Beatles, Billie Holiday, and Jackie Wilson.

Instead, my hypothesis vis-a-vis the music thing, is that once you hit a certain age, you switch over to National. For some people it hits at an early age of thirty something, for me it struck one day in the dreaded decade starting with 4. When I was a youngster I listened to Radio Hauraki or Bay City Radio, and bought records by Fleetwood Mac on big black discs of vinyl. Now, I buy CDs of Outkast, classic rock, new age wampum, hi-fi break beats, whatever. But radio? too many adverts. I just switch it off.

27 - 03 - 10

I know we have moved on from here, but just in case reader Robyn ever comes back to this page: this link is just for you. on “The Hidden Meaning of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” video….

What is interesting to me (max) is not just the article, of which a sample below, but the fact that there are (hold on, i’ll just go check…) 1487 comments as at March 27, which is not bad for a post coming out on March 14th….

“The Hidden Meaning of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone”
“Mar 14th, 2010 | By Vigilant | Category: Vigilant Reports

“Lady Gaga’s 9-minute video featuring Beyoncé is steeped in weirdness and shock value. Behind the strange aesthetic, however, lies a deeper meaning, another level of interpretation. The video refers to mind control and, more specifically, Monarch Programming, a covert technique profusely used in the entertainment industry. We’ll look at the occult meaning of the video “Telephone”.

“Just when I thought I’d written everything I had to write about Lady Gaga, Telephone comes out. An inevitable deluge of e-mails instantly followed, demanding an article about it. So I watched the video and, gosh darnit, the people who wrote those e-mails were right. There are, yet again, a whole bunch of Illuminati/mind control symbols in Lady Gaga’s latest video. I can’t say I was surprised, however, knowing that Jonas Akerlund co-wrote and directed the video. In the article Lady Gaga, the Illuminati puppet (which I suggest you read before this one), I dissected the Akerlund-directed video Paparazzi and its references to mind-control programming. Telephone acts as a sequel to Paparazzi, where Gaga still plays the role of a mind-controlled drone who kills people. This concept is never openly discussed by the artists when they are asked to explain their videos because it is not meant to be understood for the masses. The hidden meaning of the video actually depicts the elite’s contempt for the general population, hence the scene of ritual murder of average Americans in a diner by mind-controlled slaves. Don’t know what the hell I’m talking about? Keep reading.
The Hidden Meaning of the Song

“When I first heard Telephone on the radio, I thought the song was about Lady Gaga receiving phone calls from an annoying dude while she’s out in a club. I could already picture a video of Gaga on a dance floor not answering her cellphone. I’ve imagined this video because I was interpreting the song at its face value and going by its literal meaning, like most people do. Akerlund’s video has however infused a second, deeper meaning to the song, giving it an entirely new dimension. In an interview with E! Online, Gaga herself explained this fact:

“There was this really amazing quality in ‘Paparazzi,’ where it kind of had this pure pop music quality but at the same time it was a commentary on fame culture. In its own way, even at certain points working with Jonas Åkerlund, the director of both videos really achieved this high art quality in the way that it was shot. I wanted to do the same thing with this video—take a decidedly pop song, which on the surface has a quite shallow meaning, and turn it into something deeper.”
– Source

“What is never stated, however, is that this “deeper meaning” found in Gaga’s video relates to mind control, a covert practice used by the military, the CIA, religious cults and the Illuminati elite. It is used to program human beings to become mental slaves and to execute specific tasks. In Paparazzi, Gaga plays the role of a mind-controlled slave who was “programmed” to poison and kill her boyfriend. Telephone is a continuation of this story, where Gaga goes to jail for her crime.

“In the video, the “telephone” is a metaphor for Gaga’s brain and the fact that she is not answering that phone (her brain) means that she has “dissociated” from reality. Dissociation is the ultimate goal of Monarch mind control. It is induced by traumatizing events, such as electroshock therapy or torture, to force the victim to dissociate from reality. This enables the handlers to create in the victim an alter personality that can be programmed to perform various tasks, such as carrying out an assassination.”