With the announcement of TV3 killing off Newshub, it makes transparent the sad fact that we have all known for some time, namely that advertising ruins everything. Just as much as that a lack of advertising also ruins everything. Advertising is the monster that keeps the western capitalist system alive, and it is also the thing that western capitalist systems are currently dying of an overdose of. Nobody ever really WANTS to see advertising, and yet our entire lives are predicated around the advertising industry making sure of us seeing enough advertising space, enough renting the back of our eyeballs that we might remember the latest sale, the latest gadget or widget, the latest hyaluronic cream, or the latest hydraulic coupling for our tractor, that we might go out and buy one.

New Zealand has an appallingly high proportion of our TV devoted to adverts – far higher than the UK – so that British TV programs cut to fit into a one hour TV time slot need to be further cut so that we can still get our 15-20 minutes of advertising into the same hour. While that doesn’t matter with such high class drama as Home and Away, Close to Home, or whatever newfangled soap you are watching, it does play havoc if you try and watch something like a period drama. The British play a different game – or used to – that you want to try and make the advert appealing, so that consumers will sit and voluntarily watch the advert. Memorable adverts such as Hamlet’s cigars. I’ve never smoked a cigar in my life, but the adverts were such beautifully told vignettes of life that it made me stop and watch, every time. Cadbury’s drum-playing gorilla was another British masterpiece of advertising brilliance, that did have an effect on me – I almost reverted back to Cadbury and stopped buying Whittakers just because of the beauty of that advert.

New Zealand adverts operate on a different wavelength, one that I find rather abhorrent. n Aotearoa, we operate on the same premise as the Americans and the Mexicans, namely berating you endlessly again and again and again and again and again, that Briscoes has a sale on right now that will never be repeated, that Burger King / McDonalds / KFC / Karls Junior has some special combination of dead meat, fried potato and an overdose of salty sauce that you simply MUST eat this week, today, right now, this instant. Even when we know that it will help to kill us early, our brains are so saturated with that same fatty burger sauce that thousands of Kiwis go out and buy, buy, buy another one. It is hard to resist. Children’s advertising is even worse, and even more blatant. Buy THIS piece of highly coloured plastic and Mummy and Daddy will stop fighting and everything will be alright again. Make sure it has all the spangles and the extra unicorn horn. Buy NOW.

So why is Discovery ditching NewsHub? My preferred news station of choice? It will all be coming down to advertising of course – that TVNZ has got the preferred programmes and therefore got more eyeballs watching the adverts. As I said in a maudlin post at the start of the year, the old people watch The Chase every night, and so they stay on and watch the TV One News, and after that, any hangers-on will still be watching that nice Hilary Barry and that odd man Jeremy Wells. But it is the follow through from the Chase to One News that captures all the eyeballs. By comparison, no one watches TV3 NewsHub, because no one is watching whatever it is that comes before the Three news. Who knows what it is? No one cares. No one watches it.

And yet, and yet…. Pop will eat itself, and TV advertising also consumes its own corpse. The problem is, of course, that having geriatrics watching One News may consume the eyeballs of the elderly, but they are not following through by buying products. No longer fit enough to jog down to the store to purchase a whatsit or a widget, those eyeballs are too old and too non-consumerist. Too jaded. They’ve seen enough – they’ve seen it all. They might order another bulk box of Whiskas, but they don’t know how to do it online, and online shopping is where it is at these days, with bricks and mortar stores going out of business faster than the roll-over of a Briscoes sale. Have you noticed how all your favourite quirky indie businesses are going out of business? If they are not advertising, they are on their way out. Hashigo Zake is closing next week, because despite being the best beer craft bar in Wellington, it does not advertise and therefore it does not exist in the minds of most. Even the Warehouse, where everybody gets a bargain, had to sell off its Torpedo 7 brand last week – for ONE DOLLAR !!! That has to be the bargain of the century, given that everything within the store cost at least TWO dollars or more. The corporate masters of the Universe are so keen to sell off non-performing businesses that they are simply giving them away.

I’m one of those people that advertisers hate, because I never buy anything that is advertised, if I don’t like the advert. I’m a consumer who will not consume what they tell me to consume. I hated the Colgate adverts of the 1980s so much that I have never bought Colgate products since. Look Meessus March, eet DOES get een.” says the small Aussie boy to the teacher as she soaks some chalk in a handily placed glass of coloured water. It was awful. Instead, I would buy MacLeans toothpaste because of the lithe young beauty who did not shout angrily at me in an ugly Aussie accent, but instead simply smiled at me and asked in a melodic voice, “Are your MacLeans showing?”. But try and buy MacLeans at the supermarket these days – you’ll have to search it out, because Colgate has all the advertising and so they get the eye-level shelves at New World.

TV Three gets the second tier adverts, the less profitable brands, despite the actual news being just as good or actually better. TV One gets adverts for tractors and Central Region Field Days because farmers are watching and farmers have money to spend. I usually leap for the remote and turn off the sound, and then turn away. The revolution may be televised, but I will not watch the advert for it.

The ironic thing is that the generation that the advertisers really want to get hold of, the 18-24 year olds and the 25-35 year olds, don’t watch TV at all, because there is too much advertising on it. Neither do they read a newspaper, so all those adverts from Harvey Norman, which have been wrapping the outside of the Dominion Post for the last 2-3 years, are a complete waste of time and space and money. Their eyeballs, of course, are on their phones. Their fingers are fast and their digital trail is solid, buying widgets online as soon as they can tap out an order. Google and Meta track them and send them more adverts, aimed directly between the eyes.

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