Sunday, September 25, 2011

Unemployed? Wear a screen for cash!

Just when I thought that marketing and "branding" could not be more annoying, there comes the concept of "wearable advertising."  And I'm not talking a mere Nike logo on a t-shirt or a brand glyph on a ball cap.
It's not really a new idea.  The Christian Science Monitor reported on it back in 2009 and Wired talked about it allllll the way back in 2000.  The era of wearable computer screens is already upon us.  These thin, flexible displays can be molded to a person's wrist or wherever would be accessible for viewing.  Now, take this development and weave it in with clothing.  Recruit a few people as "TV wearers" and place them in high traffic areas or at big events.  Imagine someone with videoscreens embedded in their leather jacket, cycling through ads for cigarettes or wearing a t-shirt that plays the trailer for an upcoming movie or a band's latest video, complete with audio.  This will become an especially formidable tactic if the wearer is a hot woman as the CSM article suggests.  Speaking for myself, I'm not certain I could successfully tear my eyes away from that.  Yeah catch my attention, flirt for a bit, then I'm mindless putty...just waiting for you to show me an ad for beer or tchotchkes.

And why stop there?  With the micro-thin, flexible nature of these displays, couldn't a corporation pay someone to install these ads on their private vehicle?  So many people are out of work and depressed, it's extra income in dire times, right?  Why not?  There are already trucks with billboards on their backs and NASCAR does it all the time.  Not that I wish to have NASCAR set the bar for anything but you get my point.
As I said, these are frantic economic times and advertising has become correspondingly ubiquitous and obnoxious.  Do anything, absolutely anything that it takes to get noticed in the midst of the white noise, media zeitgeist.  This notion of wearable advertising is a logical extension of the current media.  Author Rudy Rucker even predicted this occurrence in novels such as Software and Wetware.  Chalk up another "hit" mark for science fiction in the "dystopian" column. 

What do I think about it?  Like I said, I've been disgusted with advertising and "branding" for a good long while now.  William Burroughs once wrote that "the word is the source of all evil."  I'm afraid that venerable author was a bit off of the mark.  Turns out that the corporate logo glyph fills that role just fine.  I'm simply resigned to this development on the horizon.  My only hope is that this presents a new challenge for hackers to get into the code of an ad on someone's bosom and then swap it out for hardcore pornography or at the very least an episode of Barney.  Nevertheless, I'm sure marketing types will attempt to justify their worth and this advancement by claiming it as just the next evolutionary step:

" 'As humans we all respond to things that are interesting and fun and a little bit different,' says Karen Post, a self-described 'branding diva' in Tampa, Fla., and author of 'Brain Tattoos,' a forthcoming book about branding."

Have I mentioned that I detest branding?
Unplug yourself from the Matrix.

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