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Did You Buy It?

Aug 17, 2007
Ads are everywhere! We expect them on television and radio. We just don't expect them so often.

We've been conditioned to expect them before movies start - whether we bought a ticket or rented a DVD. Now ads are in the movies. It's called product placement. Ford will pay to have Brad Pitt drive a Mustang. Pepsi will pay to have Julia Roberts drink a Sprite.

Advertisements appear everywhere from decals on supermarket floors to messages written in the sky. Blimps don't write messages or pull banners. Their names say it all.

But when you think blimp, I bet you think Goodyear. It's like tissues - you think Kleenex. Immediate product association is the product of good advertising.

Buses are shrink-wrapped with giant movie posters. They become billboards on wheels. Ads on taxis, trucks and vans also spread the message.

So does the family car. The rear bumper displays stickers for places visited and politicians to vote for.

Often the rear license plate frame is provided by the car dealership, but the main message this sends is the driver was too cheap to buy license frames. Grease pencil on the back window of cars often promotes nuptial bliss with "Just Married" in big letters.

Companies buy space on the uniforms of professional sports players. - on golf hats and tennis shirts. The jackets of NASCAR drivers look like patchwork quilts.

Professional players are paid to endorse products. Tiger Woods endorses Buick and probably has one in his garage, but Tiger is definitely better at long drives.

Team sports, however, aren't ad-friendly. Even if you believe Tiger Woods drives a Buick, you're not going to believe the entire Oakland Raiders team drives Buicks.

Then there are the sports fans who wear team-logos on their clothes. It's the ad version of wearing your heart on your sleeve. People wear the logos for clothing manufacturers on just about any article of clothing in plain sight and pay extra to do it.

On the other hand - the one without the Gucchi glove - wearing one of Lance Armstrong's "Live Strong" bracelets raises money for cancer research and lets people know the wearer cares. It's a win-win situation sponsored by someone who has been a winner seven times.

Even fortune cookies advertise. When my fortune is exceptionally good, I buy a lottery ticket using the numbers on the back of the fortune. Unfortunately, fortune cookie advertising hasn't improved my fortune.
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KNIGHT PIERCE HIRST takes humorous looks at life.
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