Tuesday, March 9, 2010

PumpTV - just how much advertising is too much?

I rarely watch commercial television. The commercial breaks and station promos annoy the heck out of me and I get no pleasure from any show I enjoy being carved into 6 or 7 minute segments with 3 minute ad breaks. When I do watch television, it's usually the ABC (ad free) or SBS (fewer ads than commercial channels).

Once upon a time I rather fancied the idea of working in advertising. I used to amuse myself by making pithy captions for products ("Rectinol...shove it up your a*se" was the most memorable). But now, as I approach Grumpy Old Womanhood, I find the constant barrage of advertising in everything from TV to billboards to the internet annoys me. I don't want products pushed in my face. If I want to buy something, I'll research what deals are out there myself. I don't want to be convinced that I need the latest and greatest techno gadget. When this Mac's lease is up, I will lease a new Mac. When my mobile phone dies a final death I'll replace it with an iPhone. Those are simple decisions I have already made. I have no need for a Wii, a Playstation or any other timewaster and entertainer. I read books and ride a bike instead.

So I was both amused and appalled to read this little gem in yesterday's paper about installing little TV screens at the pumps at petrol stations. For heaven's sake! Are we so desperate for stimulation and entertainment that we can't spend 2 to 5 minutes filling up the car without having to watch telly? If you don't want to click on the link, let me assure you that what will be on these screens will be advertisements. Canny marketing merchants have found yet another way to pester potential customers. Quote: "As a result, the spare minutes we once called free time -- which marketers refer to as "dead time" -- are increasingly becoming more advertising time."

Well, we're not allowed use our mobile phones while pumping petrol, so presumably this is to keep the Twitter generation happy and entertained. And avoid the inevitable Tweets such as "Filling the car up. 2c a litre off. Need to wash windscreen." or "Pumping gas, what a waste of two minutes.'. As if Twitter didn't have enough rubbish tweets ricocheting across the ether.

Further on down the article it mentions the possibilities of installing similar screens in men's urinals courtesy of a Swiss invention which is becoming a common site in Europe.

Do we HAVE to be entertained every waking moment? I think not. I relish the opportunities to get away from the computer, the TV, the constant barrage of "Buy! Buy! Buy!" that assaults me at every retail outlet including the petrol station ("Spend $5 in store and get 4c a litre discount!"). I like to have some time when my thoughts can be my own.

And my final thought on TV screens at petrol stations is that it's very clever indeed - people will watch the screen rather than watch how many dollars worth of fuel they are putting into their cars. Ah yes, people who don't automatically 'fill her up' will be spending over their budget and the petrol companies will like that just fine.

Enough from me, I'm heading off for a bit of dead time and a cup of coffee.


  1. Hear!Hear!
    I find I get a bit crazy with all the stuff flying at me out there. I want a universal 'off' device that works on everything. I find it alarming that some people actually enjoy it. (and I am being very judgmental, but too bad). Are there no free-thinkers in the next generation?

  2. Hi Sox, Apparently, according to a Gen X workshop I went to run by a Gen Xer, that generation does like being entertained all the time and uses the online community to communicate with friends. I'm sure there are exceptions to this generalisation. But we're all getting targetted with more and more 'junk' by the minute. Curse these advertising people! It was a lot easier in the days of 'Mad Men'!