Now that I work in advertising (for 4, going on 5 days now), I will probably start talking about it more. Here’s the first ad that I want to bring to your attention:

My friend Steve posted this on Facebook with instruction from the original poster to share it.

At first read, the reaction is likely to be “Yeah! Anti-establishmentarianism! Screw the capitalist pigs! F-word against money-makers! I’m totally spreading the anarchic word!” But hold on to your Doc Martens for a second, Sid Vicious because guess what? The ones who will have the last laugh on this kind of thing are the very ones against whom you seek to rebel. Here’s why:

Coke has done a fine job of establishing and reinforcing their brand imagery. It’s reached icon status. The copy in the above image is teensy, but it doesn’t matter—you could see this from across the room and know it’s Coke. In fact, even that particular shade of red alone might pop a thought of cola into your head. So entrenched, the company has even trademarked the exact colour.

In advertising terms, this is called an impression. An impression is the unit of measurement on which all ad costing is based. How many impressions an ad will make determines who much it will cost to buy that space. An impression equals a dollar amount.

So back to the Banksy piece. You saw it, you made the Coke connection, i.e. it made an impression on you → ka-ching for Coke. All right, not exactly ka-ching because you haven’t actually bought a Coke yet. But maybe you will later. It’s an inadvertant advertisement, allowing me to coin the term inadvertisement.

The majority of the people who will share Banksy’s piece in social media will not do what he and/or she is telling people to do, mostly because they don’t have the time, skills, or gumption. But they will think about the message which—don’t get me wrong—I actually really like. But how can I work in advertising and like this anti-advertiser message? I’m funny like that. Juxta is my favourite position.

What I like about the message is that it brings to light the fact that we are bludgeoned with all sorts of messages telling us how to think. You have free will; use it or lose it. You gotta make informed decisions about what you consume, otherwise you have no one to blame but yourself for the consequences, whether that be physical, mental, or financial health. Your decisions have a direct effect on your world—and mine! So please, for the sake of all of us, try to be a little more thinky before plonking down your dollar, OK? Thanks in advance.

It should be noted that I am not telling you “Don’t buy Coke”. That would be shooting myself in the career foot at this point because as the schaudenfreudian Fates would have it, the agency I’m working at actually has them as a client. McDonald’s too. Yep, laugh it up. Anyway, who am I to tell you what you should or shouldn’t buy? You’re a grown-up and can and will make your own decisions. And THAT’S what I’m asking you to do.

Originally posted January 25, 2013


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