We do live in a consumerist society. Consumerism is an indicator of our economy’s health. So, it probably shouldn’t surprise us that organisations that sell products, services, or even charity organisations have spent time and money optimising their methods for introducing us to their products.
But it has gotten a bit crazy, hasn’t it? Advertising and marketing has gone from pervasive to invasive. Okay, there are some Privacy laws out there to protect us. They aren’t very effective, though. My mobile number, which has been listed on the national do not call register for more than four years, still receives a couple of outbound marketing calls per month. It isn’t hard to see why some people think about advertising and marketing as evil. You wonder what’s next. An obstetrician with a Huggies logo across his scrubs?
When I moved in to my new home, I got a land line installed with a brand new phone number. Mainly because it came as a package with my internet. I immediately placed the number on the do not call register. It can take up to 30 days before that takes effect. Mid way through week 2 I unplugged the phone. I was getting 6-8 marketing calls per day, on days when I was working full time. The land line has sat unplugged ever since. The cost of disconnecting it is offset by the bundle deal I got with my internet, and everyone that knows me knows to call me on my mobile.
Then there are the people that stop you in the street. Amazingly, they love ambushing you at train stations, as if people at train stations aren’t trying to get somewhere and exists solely for the convenience of the sellers. There are the extremists, colloquially called Chuggers (charity muggers) who are blatant and confrontational in their tactics. A spate of negative media has quelled that little uprising somewhat, but they are still out there. Some of the less audacious sellers, while not as confrontational, do not hesitate to manipulate people through public guilt trips. I used to support a number of these charity organisations. I withdrew my support after seeing some of their representatives behave in manners I refuse to support. At that time I was fortunate enough to work for an organisation that not only allowed employees to salary sacrifice to support charities that they had gone to the effort of vetting, but even matched donations made in this manner dollar for dollar up to a cap. This! This I can get behind. Not only is it not invasive, but it results in a lower overhead for charity organisations than funding employees, meaning a higher percentage per dollar getting to the ultimate beneficiary of the. Yes, some of them are volunteers. How many of those stopping you in the street trying to talk you in to whipping out that credit card do you think fall in to that category?
Unfortunately, these methods, along with the old tried and true door knockers, have seen varying degrees of success. And will continue to do so as long as consumers allow ourselves to be manipulated by these methods.
Has something like this ever happened to you?
I wanted to buy a new refrigerator. The alcove I had for it was an odd height that many friges would not fit in to, so I spent a couple of hours researching what would fit, how much it cost, and what brands gave the best options for storage volume for their buck.
For the next week, every time I visited Facebook, or most any other site with ads, I magically started seeing ad after ad for refrigerators. I had gone out and bought my fridge that same afternoon, so all those ads were utterly wasted on me.
It may not be Big Brother, but someone is watching me. How can they get away with it? Well, firstly, because policing anything on the internet is next to impossible. And secondly, because we let them.
(inner voice) – But aren’t you a hypocrite? I’ve seen you promote your blog through Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps. But I have also forked over the extra to the default ads from my blog. I have refused to sign on for the various “services” that help to promote blogs through what is essentially a gigantic circle-jerk process. Advertising is not going away. People are always going to want to try and make money. I don’t think that is the purpose of this blog, but if I was getting 250,000 hits per day (instead of the record to date of 98 in a day), I might just be tempted to make a buck out of it. But I do okay in my day job so for now at least, the temptation to sell out isn’t there.
Here is where I should put a conclusion and wrap my argument up with an nice little bow. Only this is really just a rant. I don’t like it. I would absolutely boycott every organisation that used “invasive” marketing methods – if only there were any alternatives. The moment an organisation treats me as though I exist for their convenience, they lose my respect and risk losing my business.