E-letter: Fruit stickers and ads

I got home from my bike ride last week, grabbed a banana from the fruit bowl and sat down to catch my breath. I caught it all right, when I saw the fruit sticker. I am not a fan of fruit stickers. I understand that lying, cowardly thieves try to by Honeycrisp apples for Jonathan prices. Talk about petty! But in my view, treating me as if I’m a thief and making me peel off irksome little sticky labels at home will do little to thwart the intentions of demented fruit thieves. It just drives them to the cherries and grapes.

Kerry Knudsen

In this case, though, it was worse. The fruit sticker not only proudly identified the banana as a Dole, but it advertised the advent of yet another goofy Pixar/Disney movie. In my thinking, most adults don’t read fruit stickers. I wouldn’t have, except I was catching my breath (32 km). But kids see everything. So my guess is that Disney is attacking kids again. It may have been my banana, but I was not the target market. I am not a Pixar fan.

We have talked about the proliferation of ads before. They are on your food and on your shoes. They are all over TV and social media. By the way, do you mind if I just call it the asocial media? I am picky about meaning, and the highest society evolving out of social media all seem to be mass killers and flash mobs. And Madonna, who, I hear, has put the sex back in sexagenarian. Be still, my quaking heart. Last I heard she was deflowering passing teenagers she hailed from the back of a taxi or something. Some Madonna. I’m guessing the name was wishful thinking on her mother’s part. She must be proud.

One place you see few ads is along the highways. Airports, of course, make up for that, but do you know why there are so few billboards in an era where every piece of fruit is viewed as prime real estate and nobody matters but the marketer? It’s because people got fed up. As far as I know, every country, region and locality has laws regulating commercial clutter.

Of course, W.I. Media Inc. owes its balance sheet to advertising, so what, you might ask, is the complaint?

It’s true. We are all about marketing. And so are you. We all sell based on our service, our professionalism and our experience. We have to reach an energized, loyal and responsive market. And, as Hamlet said, there’s the rub. It’s from the famous, “to be or not to be” speech, and that concept echoes down through the centuries.

Even older than Shakespeare, there is an old fable attributed to Aesop about a goose that laid golden eggs. Sorry to ruin the punch line if you haven’t read it, but the farmer and his wife could not wait for the next golden egg, so they killed the goose to get them all. For those not familiar with goose-eggs, they aren’t all in there in a pile waiting to come out. As with other things in life, they need to mature. So the farmer and his wife ruined everything, not the least of which was the goose.


It is as though Aesop predicted a technology that would provide unlimited and unfettered access to all markets at no cost, and, because it interweaved rich and poor, far and near and young and old, it was as if it were a net – an interweaving net that Aesop may even have deemed an internet. Whodathunkit?

I am not going to stretch this metaphor any further, but you get the point.

In only the last two weeks, we have seen such headlines coming across the media-studying media as:

“The Flourishing Business of Fake YouTube Views: Plays can be bought for pennies and delivered in bulk, inflating videos’ popularity and creating an environment ripe for manipulation” from the New York Times; “Snapchat – falling into line behind Facebook and Twitter – has become the latest social network to report declining user numbers in its half year results” from The Guardian; “Shopify battles the scammers behind fake web stores” from Ad Age; “Spotify is hoping to deliver another blow at rival Pandora, all in an effort to dominate the fast growing, $1.6 billion market that is digital audio advertising” from Ad Age; “Facebook-owned WhatsApp is creating ad inventory for its Status feature, which allow brands to place their campaigns into the messenger service’s most curated content. The service will begin selling its new ad inventory in 2019” from MediaInCanada; and “The skinny on Canadian social media habits: Are the days of massive growth in social media over?” from MediaInCanada.

Of course, there are the much-more-serious reports such as those out of Spain warning against “sextortion,” in which the victim is told a hacker has commandeered the camera on his device, captured video and manufactured damning clips to be sent to family, friends and associates if a ransom is not paid. Other abuses include plain-old ransomware, identity theft, stalking, child abuse, fraud and a plethora of Nigerian princes with oil kingdoms to give away.

Long story short, anybody with a media seismograph can tell the mountain is about to explode. Even this week the FBI is warning of an imminent ATM scam expected to skim millions. Social media, long the darling of every wanna-be ad agency with a daddy-bought Mac and Adobe Illustrator, has turned into the Bride of Frankenstein. From Wikipedia, that most unreliable of references: “The movie starts as an immediate sequel to the events that concluded the earlier film, and is rooted in a subplot of the original Mary Shelley novel, Frankenstein (1818). In the film, a chastened Henry Frankenstein abandons his plans to create life, only to be tempted and finally coerced by his old mentor Dr. Pretorius, along with threats from the monster, into constructing a mate for the monster.” Welcome, Google Pro.

In a sense, everything is economic. That is, everything is subject to an analysis of cost and benefit. I hear that if the cost becomes prohibitive the action will diminish. Already we are following the path of our forebears and creating laws against spam – 30 years after the fact. I don’t know how we punish sextortion and bank fraud. I believe in the 1800s they hanged them. Seems harsh. Possibly effective.

In any event, by now I think each of us has put our money and our trust into some oddball promise from the digital world, and most of us have received that one, last goose-egg. As the editor of this publication, I can tell you it is my opinion that the time has come to be more vigilant, more cautious and more resistant to promises of something for nothing.


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