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Opinion March 2013

The Overwhelming Onslaught of Advertising

By John C. Liburdi

Then there’s my old fashioned mail that’s delivered each day. People used to send me handwritten letters; now it’s all junk mail. I’ve actually rigged up a length of dryer duct that automatically flows the stuff out the back of the mailbox and directly into my recycle bin.

Persistent advertisers are constantly attacking me on all sides. The classic vision of the Old West hadn’t come to mind in years, but now I wish we were back in that era so I could simply circle the wagons to defend against the deluge of advertising.

My alarm clock radio brings the first aggressors into my personal space each day. I used to love hearing cute jingles about Mr. Clean washing kitchens and Bucky Beaver brushing teeth. Now I’m bombarded by blabbermouth commercials offering 10 thousand dollar discounts on 15 thousand dollar cars and hawking bargain basement liposuction jobs.

Likewise, TV ads have reached new levels of intensity. I’m hammered with six pharmaceutical advertisements between each evening news item. They ramble on during my supper, painting a nauseating picture of all the potential side effects. Plus, the networks have cleverly synchronized advertising to the point where all cable channels show commercials at precisely the same time. There’s no escape; thus, channel surfing has become a dying art.

Meanwhile, the phone keeps ringing with solicitors representing my hometown charities, calling from “boiler rooms” in Washington D.C. Next, I‘m blasted by cruise ship horns and effervescent voices when I answer my cell phone. Think about it; would an unshaven old geezer carrying a prepaid cell phone buy a first-class Love Boat ticket from a telemarketer?

Internet spam and pop-ups are driving me crazy too; of course, the solution is to buy pop-up blocker and spam filter software — did somebody say extortion? And I finally realize why buying high-speed Internet service is so important – without it, advertisers couldn’t run the video ads that distract me while I’m trying to log onto my email account.

Then there’s my old fashioned mail that’s delivered each day. People used to send me handwritten letters; now it’s all junk mail. I’ve actually rigged up a length of dryer duct that automatically flows the stuff out the back of the mailbox and directly into my recycle bin. My postman is fine with that – he’s got a paying job as long as those trash catalogs and cheap insurance offers keep flowing in.

I’ve always been impressed with outdoor advertising too. The billboards along the highways remind me of huge fresco paintings by Europe’s great masters. Alas, that’s all becoming obsolete now that we’ve got billboard-size flat-screen TVs out on the highways. Some eating establishments have also capitalized on that technology by mounting flat-screen TVs above restroom urinals. That puts the commercials right in my face as I drain my bladder.

The human factor is another fascinating aspect of advertising. My spirits are really lifted when people dressed up as a cow, a hot dog, or Uncle Sam enthusiastically wave to me as I drive by – they just seem to be having so much fun out there no matter how hot the weather gets. And I often wonder how the nice folks advertising mattresses alongside a noisy street are able to sleep so soundly as they lay in bed. There’s even more novel advertising going on at a nearby intersection. That’s where a cute gal massages a dummy lying on a portable table — lucky stiff!

The daily newspaper is yet another attack. All the advertising stuff jammed into in the center of the paper is twice as thick as the news sections. In fact, my traumatized German Shepard is undergoing psychotherapy because the Sunday paper has become way too heavy for him to fetch. I’m thinking about getting him a rubber Kindle Reader to carry around in his mouth so he’ll start feeling better about himself.

Truth be known, I’m anxious for advertising to leap forward to the next generation of technology. We’re eventually going to see hologram advertising in underground subway stations, commuters will surely enjoy the alluring lingerie models. I expect there’ll also be free sunglasses for everyone, financed by running video ads inside the lenses. And I’ve already resigned myself to the fact that whenever I start wearing a hearing aid, it’ll have an integrated wireless device that receives subliminal advertising.

OK, I guess I’m getting a little carried away; maybe we should just get back to basics. For example, instead of perfume scent samples in magazines, why not embed them in bathroom tissue? And perhaps advertisements for low testosterone pills could be tattooed on the backs of shapely young ladies. Although, that’s likely to generate a plethora of lewd thoughts, thus requiring frequent sessions with the church padre: “Bless me father for I have sinned; this confession will be made without commercial interruption…”


Liburdi's recent book "Italian American Fusion: Italy's Influence on the Evolution of America" is available at on-line bookstores and the Kindle Reader.

Meet John


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