“I see scenery; I see beauty; I see opportunity.”

These are the immortal words of Seattle advertising executive, Darren Bruce, on gazing over the scenic and beautiful waters of Lake Washington. The “opportunity” of course is to introduce floating billboards in 14 ft high sections that can be joined together for a 192 ft long panoramic vista. He plans to tow them behind a boat, so not just one section of the view will be blighted, but everywhere will be subject to the equal opportunity despoliation. Lucky Lake Union is also on his list of civic improvements. Amazingly, there’s no law against this. You can see the King 5 news report here.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to get away from advertising crap in cities, a relentless visual assault that disrespects architecture and cityscapes. What’s that you say? Advertising is essential for marketing products? And so it is, but there’s more than one way to get your fingers into a consumer’s wallet. I give you that bastion of capitalism, Forbes, with an article on how Sao Paulo banned billboard advertising 5 years ago and has not looked back since. Companies have turned instead to digital advertising, a leap forward that Forbes appears to applaud.

The visual pollution of advertising billboards is not inevitable, merely convenient, and a source of income for the likes of Darren Bruce. I am hereby putting him on the short list for a seat on Golgafrincham Ark B, along with the entire useless third of the population. (You all have your own lists, I imagine). Notice how the stars are going out above urban areas? That’s the Mutant Star Goat coming to eat you, Darren Bruce, so get packed and on board while you can.

Coffee Training

For a country that takes pride in its revolutionary origins and spirit of independence, the US seems like a nation of conformists when it comes to perfecting just the right consumer lifestyles. Brands are an essential element in the consumer experience, and performing successfully in the theatre of capitalism often requires learned behaviour, as dictated by brand advertising and other psychological triggers.

Take coffee, for example. Here is an enlightening video about the way Starbucks practices social engineering to make customers use Starbuckspeak when ordering their drinks – both the drink’s name and cup size. It always amused me that “Small” is no longer “small,” but “Tall.” It’s not up there with 1984’s four government ministries, whose titles express the exact opposite of their functions, but it is a linguistic deception.

I’m proud to say that, as a bit of a Bolshie, I steadfastly refused to comply. Right to the end it was always “Earl Grey, two tea bags in the biggest cup.” In the interests of not being seen as a glutton, I should point out that this was before the advent of the Trenta, a staggering 916 ml and larger than the average stomach capacity of a human. After a while, I had the baristas properly trained.

The Slobstopper (You Need Hands)

This is a real product.  And I saw more like it on American TV when I lived in the US.  This type of advertisement features incredibly clumsy actors, whose cack-handedness is meant to encourage you, the consumer, to slob out to your heart’s content.  Reverting to infancy?  Don’t worry – we have the product for you!

A rough definition of the end of civilization: when adult diapers are marketed to those who actually can make it to the toilet in time.

Here’s the perfect antidote to this sort of drivel, a commercial for Hands, the latest must-have product.