A photo of a blank billboard for advertisement that is surrounded by buildings.
Photgoraph by Weerayut Ranmai  / Getty

Your Dumb Little Advertising Tricks Won’t Work on Me

Wow, what a deal—$9.99? That’s under ten bucks! . . . is what I would be saying, if I were a complete idiot. Maybe that kind of thing works on other people, but your tired marketing gimmicks and Psych 101 bullshit have literally no effect on me.

Oh, wait, I hadn’t seen the label yet. The colors really grabbed my attention. Wow, can you believe all these features? Designed in the U.S.A.? Eco-friendly? And look at this packaging! Solid . . . try, but no! The dubious claims on your mostly air-filled box do nothing for me.

But, as I drive home and see your billboard strategically placed between the store and my populated-by-your-customer-demographic neighborhood, do I suffer a pang of regret about possibly missing out on a great new experience?

No! Because I take the long way home, specifically to avoid your ceaseless corporate shilling. I’m never distracted by your attractive models or chuckle-inducing taglines. In fact, I’m too focussed on not hitting children and minding speed bumps on this residential backstreet to even think about what I’m missing!

Fortunately for you, guess who’s there to greet me when I get home and turn on the TV? It’s your product! Even after paying seventeen dollars a month to watch the ad-free version of this show, I still can’t avoid seeing your product when it’s right there in the hands of my favorite character. I wonder how it would feel in my hands. Would it make me more like her?

I hope not, because she’s actually not my favorite character. In fact, she’s the worst! Any product she endorses, I heartily oppose. And now she’s sharing it with my actual favorite character. Great. Oh, my God, how much did you pay for that closeup? You know what, thanks for reminding me that this show sold out a long time ago. Good thing this streaming service has other content. Hey, check it out, a reality show about soldiers who marry their second cousins. And all the brand names are blurred out—sweet respite!

Normally, I can’t wait to talk about my favorite show at work on Monday, but now that it’s “Second in Command,” my co-workers don’t seem as interested. In fact, they seem a lot more interested in talking about the free swag—provided by, you guessed it, you—in the lobby. Even my boss is heading over to grab a bag, and he’s been on my case about being a “team player” lately, so I guess I’ve got no choice . . . but to quit this lousy job, which I hate anyway! What, I’m supposed to keep doing it forever just because it’s easy and pays pretty well? Ha! I already know of a great workplace where even you can’t get to me: my house. You know what road is completely free of your billboards? My driveway! You know whose mailbox the post office won’t be able to deliver to anymore because I just mowed it down with my car? My mailbox!

You know who keeps calling to say I’m acting paranoid and that they’re worried about me? My family! They say that what I’m doing isn’t rational. They say that, by trying to avoid your product, I’m giving it more influence over my life than if I just ignored it or, for God’s sake, tried it once and got it over with. Maybe they’re right. Could that hurt? Maybe if I tried your stupid product just this one time . . . I’d be giving you exactly what you wanted! Not gonna happen. They can pound on my front door all they want, but I’ve triple-locked it and I’m not letting anybody in. Go ahead, call the police. Knock down my door. Take me to a psychiatric facility. I don’t care. Because look at me now, surrounded by clean, white walls. Nothing can reach me here!

Nice try, though. ♦