The Ad-Age of Reason

As a society, I think we all strive to reach a heightened state of achievement – success perhaps. We are more driven, more communicative and we have, I think, learned form the various failures of our predecessors in regard to economics, International Relations, The Environment.

Why is it then that politics, community and overall public awareness has fractured further with each generation? Are we not more enlightened?

I submit to you that our weakness as a society is in the way we gather information. We have moved from a time when news was limited to broadsheet newspapers, gossip and a very narrow band of radio and TV (where the news was censored, but explained to us) to a time where we control what we digest, how we chose to understand news and how far we wish to truly understand the world around us. For many, that is great, awesome. We can explore, discuss (in a forum I assume, the pub seems to be the vestige of sports and ramblers) and truly consume our information. Or we can suck it down like a bad burger. Give us anything, just keep it short. Real Short.

On that basis, advertising controls opinion. Not news media, not our leaders, not our community.

When advertising spend seems to be the primary measure of presidential success, you know that they know how it works. Unfortunately, they (and we) also know, policy, philosophy and a true dialectic approach to decision making just can’t be summed up in 30 seconds.

The sound byte campaign is nothing new, however the reach of compelling supplementary information is shrinking by the day, as we now have the choice to either ignore reason completely, or digest our reason from a source that is potentially skewed and almost certainly playing off emotions rather than providing substance. TV news media now provides us with news the way WE DEMAND IT – in commercial format. 30 seconds, your opinions recycled.

Now would be a terrific time to launch into a diatribe about how the news media has a lot to answer for, our education is provided in comic format and so on, but really, we have no one to blame, because the era of the 30 second spot has been in place for long enough that it has only been a matter of time before other media formats realized the truth. We have built a society where the 30 second spot suits our lifestyle. We are too busy, life is seriously complex, time is planned to the second, to cram work (remember the 40 hour week), family (how many sports and activities can one kid digest in order to get into Harvard), and leisure (crashed on the couch for 30 minutes, watch popcorn, go to bed) into our increasingly limiting 24 hour day.

Fortunately there is a solution, and this year was a great example of the turning tide. I don’t think our politicians have anything to be proud of, but socially responsible organizations have found ways to teach us inside 30 seconds. This year the Kony campaign (misleading or not) reached literally hundreds of millions of people. Advertisers now work on entertaining us, while TV bores us. Simply put, we have found ways to learn and teach in the modern age. Now we must hope this extends and grows. Who knows, maybe even the media will catch on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Please enter your name, email and a comment.