Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Oh, how they hate advertising

It’s pretty much accepted as true that sane, free thinking individuals despise advertising. Gee, was it the container loads of horseshit we have piped into your dens since the dawn of commercial TV? Picky.

Here’s something else that is true.

Thousands of those same commercial-haters pack out the Walker Art Center every year here in Minneapolis to watch the British Advertising Awards.

The show runs five sittings a day for the entire month of December, and it’s sold out every slot, every year. In fact, it’s the single biggest source of traffic and non-grant income for the Walker. People pay $10 a pop. They sit, willingly, through ninety wall-to-wall minutes of commercial activity. And they love it.

I’d never been before, but I started to wonder, who ARE these people? Students from one of the umpteen local ad schools? Indigent copywriters? Mike Lescarbeau and his mum?

So, yesterday, I went. Judging from the number of grandmas and teenage girls… these were ordinary ‘non-industry’ citizens. Giving time out of a gleaming Monday afternoon, to watch, laugh at, be moved by COMMERCIALS.

Some possible takeaways:

A lot of grandmas and teenage girls actually do work in Minneapolis ad agencies.

People hate advertising except when it’s done for products they can’t buy, in accents they can’t understand.

People hate advertising except when it’s surprising, funny, moving, shocking, beautiful, or silly.

I suppose I’ll get no arguments on the last one there. But - just remember that theater full of delighted faces next time you hear someone sounding off about the forever damaged relationship between advertisers and audiences.

It’s just not true.

Image by nick_s_hoban