Thursday, February 01, 2007

Terrorist Sell

Yes, of course, it is amusing in an absurdist way that Boston ground to a halt yesterday when little electronic widgits dispersed around town by a "guerilla marketing" campaign were suspected to be "devices" (as in improvised explosive).

Sure, I'll add my voice to the general quibble, if only to complain about the use of the word "guerilla."

"Guerilla" implies subversion; there's nothing subversive or revolutionary about the Turner Network's marketing effort, young, goateed (and scapegoated) art-school fellows notwithstanding. It's the same stroke-the-ego-of-your-target-demographic advertising technique that's used to sell everything from Hummers to Frosted Flakes. The very use of the word "guerilla" is part of the stroke: makes the target demographic feel edgy, avant garde, special, subversive, in on a quasi-gnostic secret -- not simply the easy-mark, sucker-born-every-minute victim of the latest Madison Ave campaign to extract dollars from purses. Stampede with the herd into your radical individuality ! Wheeee !

Personally, I found the widget campaign to be as transparent and tacky as those laminated signs that sprout up overnight on the all phone poles of one's neighborhood -

Work From Home
Earn $3000 A Month!!!!
Call 1-666-666-6666 !!!!

Stuff like THIS might more accurately merit the term "guerilla," something that truly subverts the prevailing wisdom about the benignity of advertising, that truly subverts the assumption that every surface of the planet, public and private, natural and synthetic, high and low, is a blank slate ripe for marketing messages.

Well, I don't eat drug-rep food or use pens with drug names on them. Ever. My colleagues indulge me: it's Dr. T's freaky eccentricity, a charming quirk, pass the Boniva doughnuts, please. Is that a Viagra pen you've got there ? Sweeeet.

Yeah, I know. I need to relax. To heed the spiritual message on the side of the MBTA bus and "find my Zen."

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