Friday, November 2, 2007

Things that make me sick

This is the first posting of what I'm going to call my "things that make me sick" (ttmms) track where I'm going to bitch and rant about things that I seriously can't stand. The honour of being the first topic of this series goes to Gewista Urban Media for their "Station Branding" and "Total Branding".

According to their website Gewista is "Out-of-Home and Urban Media with the most comprehensive range of Out-of-Home Media in Austria", so basically a company that puts up advertising wherever possible. Now in a recent article on it was mentioned that for the UEFA Euro 2008 that takes place in Austria and Switzerland next year (trust me, I'm definitely going to ttmms-blog about them!) Gewista is going to offer "total branding" for subway carriages in Vienna. "Total branding" basically means that every surface inside and outside of the train carriage is used for advertising. Hell, they'll even put special antislip ads on the floor of the carriages and even brand the little straps that you hold on to (so you don't fall over in case of emergency). Combine that with their "Station Branding" efforts which allow companies to brand a whole subway station for €52.000 to €110.000 for 4 weeks and you've got an advertiser's wet dream. According to a certain Fred Kendlbacher, responsible for "Transport Media" at Gewista, "there's no escape, you can't go by without seeing it with this form of advertising".

Now call me crazy but I think this is fucking insane and an excellent and sad example of how far our society has come with regards to advertising. What's next, advertising plastered all over my bathroom mirror, the floor in my room and my pillows? Will I be forced to turn off my MP3 player while I'm at a station so I can take in all the crap that they will advertise over the PA system? I already paid my €1.7 for a single ride on the subway so why should I still have to look at ads while I'm actually riding on the carriage?

It's not like today public transport is an advertising-free experience: the busses are branded, the stops have advertising integrated into them, there's the ad-clips on the screens inside the subway stations, many trams are branded, etc. Now with total and station branding coming to town there's really no escaping it. Aren't the hundreds of ad messages the average person is forced to look at per day enough? Apparently not...

What really strikes me about this story is that it made me realize how far advertising has already intruded our daily lifes. It's not just the public space anymore that's being over-commercialized, it's literally everywhere. I remember back in school when we came back after the summer vacaction and suddenly found our gym to come with complementary advertising. I really couldn't believe my eyes, it's a school for God's sake, you can't put up advertising in schools, right? These days it's advertising at university that really makes me sick. At times they even do "stair branding" where all the steps leading up to the 1st floor are covered with one message or another...

So, to cut a long story short: The first ever things that make me sick award goes to Gewista, "Total Branding", "Station Branding" and advertising in general!

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