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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Get 2++ inches bigger TODAY!

Ah yes, spam.

I'm not sure how they do it. For some reason, my wife (for example) doesn't get ten messages per day promising to increase the size of her penis. So why do I? Is it because "dave" is part of my e-mail address? Is there some computer program that recognizes names as being male or female, and filters them accordingly? Or is it all done at random? I do, occasionally, get spam messages seemingly aimed at women -- "Stop menstrual cramps forever!" or some such -- but the overwhelming number have to do with either 1) buying fake Rolexes, 2) seizing investment opportunities that simply can't be missed, or, yes, 3) increasing the size of my reproductive mechanism to provide me further satisfaction and enjoyment. And I didn't even realize that I needed this.

The titles of these messages are all I read, but they can be entertaining: "She was shocked when she saw it!" which may or may not be a good thing, or the admirably direct "Size does matter" or the celebrity endorsement of "Ron Jeremy recommends this." (A quick google search reveals that Ron J. is a porn star.) Then there's "Wouldn't you feel better with a little more?" Well, yeah, sure, who wouldn't? Of course, it took me a while to figure out that these messages were all concerned with the same thing. "A little more" could refer to money, or press freedom, or eggplant, or whatever. (If I could increase the size of my eggplant by two inches, now that would be something.)

The thing is, of course, that inevitably I start to wonder if maybe I should have a little more. After all, if size does matter than maybe I would shock her and then I'd feel better with 2+ inches since after all, if Ron Jeremy recommends it... This is the nature of advertising: it introduces anxiety that you never felt before in order to make you pay money for stuff you don't need in order to assuage the anxiety you didn't have before you saw the ad.

Recently I got in touch with a former student from my high school teaching days here in sunny Lahore. This woman graduated in 2000 and was one of my two favorite students, ever. She's now working for an ad agency in Karachi. Among other things, she has worked on the Mountain Dew soda campaign here in Pakistan. It's got me thinking about advertisers and advertising and what a strange form of mind control it really is. I will confess to some attraction to it. The fact that you are, essentially, manipulating people into buying shit they don't need (soda, lipstick, yet another car, TV, novel about Noah's ark, whatever) poses a sort of "Can I actually make them do it?" challenge that is, in its way, hard to resist. The question, "Does the world really need to consume more fookin' Mountain Dew?" is quickly replaced with, "Let's see how much of this repulsive shit we can get the idiots to suck down!" Cigarettes are the most blatant example of this--cigarette TV ads are alive and well in Pakistan, and play throughout things like cricket matches, which is criminal, if you ask me. "Life is too long! Smoke these things and make it shorter, because, um, you'll look cool, and otherwise people will think you're a loser." But all advertising is based on the same principle.

So I told my student I was intrigued and repelled by advertising in equal measure, and that if she ever wanted to pick my brain for ideas, she could do so. And she said she would. There may be a new career here; stay tuned for further developments. And speaking of development, man, I know a way for you to get six more inches, guaranteed...


thosspot said...

Interesting question on why women dont get those Vi@gra, et al spams. I got one recently that made me chuckle; unfortunately I deleted it but it said something like, "Impress your friends when you discuss with them your penis." How cerebral! I won't be so crude as to just whip it out, I'm gonna tell you about -- discuss it even -- first!

I get your point about advertising, although I find myself thinking, why NOT advertising? Actually, for your books you've mined a whole lot of early advertising -- the bible, no? Talk about creating worries that people didnt worry about before! Imagine, all you had to worry about were marauders, disease and your mustard crop, now you've got to worry about a vindictive god threatening damnation if you dont comply!

And why not advertise cigarettes and why would I want to live longer? I dont smoke nor do I want die anytime soon, but if I were a smoker and I derived pleasure from it (arguable I guess, people likely more addicted than they derive pleasure from cigs, but that said where does pleasure end and addiction begin?), why would I want to deprive myself? So I could extend my dotage a few more years? A time, from what I can gather, is going to be filled with a whole host of medical problems anyway, no matter how cleanly I live? And how about HotPockets or all the other processed crap that's advertised? How are these products worse than cigarettes? They'll kill you just as certainly as tobacco.

On a happier note, how 'bout them Sox? Never confident though. The Sox always have that other shoe waiting to drop. Pats v the Redskins should be a good game.

Anyway, sorry to clog your blog.

n.g. said...

this whole thing about 'shoving it down their throats' is what made me quit advertising, coz i quickly realised that i wasnt really giving the consumer what he wanted, all i was doing was enabling fuckwitted clients to sell shitty products to unsuspecting consumers who didnt even know that they didnt need the damn things, and surprisingly didnt even mind that they were being screwed over (research is proof.)

and i get these mails all the time too, the best instance being one which urged me to get a bigger willy so that my girlfriend would love me twice as much (geddit, 'twice') and the very next email suggested that i become more than 'just a handful' for my boyfriend.


There's a pretty funny book called SYRUP by Maxx Berry which plays with some of thiese ideas. It's set in the advertising world and it makes you think, "Oy, does that really happen?" But of course it does.

n.g.,if you have any war stories about advertising, I'm all ears.

And on the other hand, there's a GREAT book I recently read called Then We Came to the End, also set in an advertising agency, which manages to be pretty clear-eyes about the machinations of the business while simultaneously very sympathetic to the people working in it, who are just trying to earn a living...