It’s an ad, ad, ad, ad world

Julie Seabaugh

Some thoughts on Vegas advertising. Brought to you by Starbucks.

That new “Not Available in Pomegranate” 40-foot ad for Jim Beam on the side of the Rio and the ginormous one for Absolut vodka—visible from airplanes!—on the Luxor are both courtesy of giant-ads-on-buildings innovators SkyTag. There are regular ol’ billboards along every major thoroughfare, and there are the ones for entertainers, buffets and gentlemen’s clubs that roll down the Strip atop slender truck beds (right past the click-clacking hawkers of escort ad cards). Fremont’s Viva Vision not-so-subliminally urges visitors to hit the poker tables at the top of each post-dusk hour. One can’t even flip through the average alternative-weekly newspaper without being exposed.

There are games to play, shows to see, foods to eat, alcohols to drink, sexes to have. Deciding to spend your dollars in Vegas, promise the ads, will result in some darn good times.

And it’s not just tourists (who read vacation-touting in-flight magazines atop ad-emblazoned tray tables on the way in) who get inundated with beckoning barrages. Grocery mailers, restaurant menus wedged into doors and fast-food spots promise happy, well-fed families. This SUV is both powerfully masculine and eco-friendly. This particular house is not only closer, bigger, more comfortable and more impressive, but somehow also cheaper. And this particular bank’s loan will finance that vehicle and home far more conveniently than the competitor’s. There are rooms to fill with the latest, greatest products, bodies to pamper/adorn, Joneses to keep up with, lifelong contentednesses to purchase.

Of course there are ways around some of the commercial clutter, most of them courtesy of technological advances. TiVo and iTunes have (for now, at least) provided television viewers with the means to skip over those pesky ads. Even though a sheet advertising more flicks arrives inside the left cover of every new DVD, a touch of the remote button jumps past the “Coming Soon”s and right to the feature presentation. Sirius and XM Satellite Radio each boast 69 ad-free music channels.

Internet mailing lists are required to provide easy-to-follow opt-out instructions. A reported 76 percent of US households are on the National Do-Not-Call list.

Physical, in-your-face ads, however, aren’t so easy to dismiss. Just ask the marketing geniuses at Juicy Couture or Golden Palace, they of the tuchis script and body-part tattoos. Sure, you can shield your eyes from all the neon, but the signs still exist.

They can’t be skipped out of existence.

Thus it’s surprising that so much negative space remains unclaimed in Vegas. The walkways straddling Spring Mountain, Flamingo, Tropicana and Las Vegas Boulevard could dangle a few game/show/food/booze/sex banners. Those multihued rocks along the interstates could be arranged so the darker ones spell out the name of a top-notch landscaper. The Luxor could take it a step further and use that giant beam to project Absolut slogans off the clouds.

If we aren’t already, would being oversaturated with advertising wear down ingrained defenses and make one more susceptible to the spiel? Would we fathom that the evening news is market-driven and reality shows dominate entertainment? Or that the idea that watching Super Bowl commercials provides a shared community experience is in fact a Super Bowl-marketing ploy?

On the other hand, oversaturation could further hone the defenses and encourage hypercriticism. Distrust turns to action, and people no longer purchase things they don’t need. The economy collapses, depression sets in, alcohol sales skyrocket. And no fruity stuff, either; times like these surely call for a tall (very tall) shot of Jim Beam.

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