Saturday, October 13, 2007

You Just Can't Escape Product Placement


As many of you know, my wife and I don't have a TV. Now, it's not that we're wild-eyed crusaders trying to eliminate the Devil Box from modern society (although I really laughed when I saw the first Dilbert comic on this page. Incidentally, that was one of the first 50 Dilbert strips Scott Adams wrote, and was part of his "audition" package to the comics syndicate).

We came by not having a TV because of a confluence of circumstances. In my case, just before I graduated from college and got my first job and my own apartment, I broke up with a girlfriend who watched a lot of TV. I had gotten pretty sick of it--I'd go over to her place at the end of a long week, happy to be with her, and she just wanted to watch E.R. So after we broke up, and then when I moved into an apartment by myself with no roommates, I decided not to get a TV.

In my wife's case, she had been a TV junkie all through her growing-up years, to the point where she could tell what time it was by what was on. As she grew into her college and post-college years, she decided this was a habit that needed breaking. By the time I got to know her, she had been whittling down her TV time bit-by-bit for several years. So when we got married and she moved in with me, we didn't feel any need to get one.

And this has proved to be a good decision. While there are occasionally things on TV that we wouldn't mind seeing, we'd have to sort through an awful lot of dreck to find it. And if it's really that good, it will eventually come out on DVD and we can just play it on our computer. And we've found many benefits to not having a TV. For one thing, we have a lot more time to do things. (For example: In the three years before Tonya and I got married, I took all that time I would have spent watching TV, and used it to learn to play the harp.) Second, we're not bombarded with all that advertising. We consider this a very good thing now that we have children. Ok, we still have some toys and clothes that have licensed characters on them--it's hard to avoid them entirely--but we don't have too many items like this, and we don't have our kids constantly clamoring for them.

And it's not that our kids are especially pure of heart in this regard, either. On those occasions we go over to friends' houses and they have the TV running, the girls are sucked in by it. And with every advertisement they see, one of them invariably says, "I think we should get that." Thankfully, they don't obsess over it. After we go home, they don't see those ads anymore. Out of sight, out of mind: they go back to doing the kinds of things they always do at home, and don't think anymore about those glowing baubles that were briefly dangled in front of their eyes.

That is, this is true for the most part.

But brand placement is downright insidious. While TV is its primary vector of attack, it isn't its only one. It searches out all our secret weaknesses, and slithers its way into our homes and into our secret thoughts--if not by one way, by another.

Behold how it has worked its nefarious ways upon our innocent daughter:

It's Big Brother, I tell you.


The Not Quite Crunchy Parent said...

I'm with you 100% We actually do have a set but use it only to view DVDs from time to time. We have no actual reception.

Watching Tv really isn't on my DS's radar and I occasionally, OK often rant about the commercialism on TV...

Timothy Power said...

Hello, Ms. Milker! Very pleased to have you drop by. I find it a little amusing, actually, that the only person so far to drop in and comment on my post on Product Placement--offering 100% agreement, no less--actually makes a living as a Marketing Consultant.

Very pleased to make your virtual acquaintance!