I spent this holiday day lolling around the house, reading a book and watching TV and baking sweet potatoes. But then it was just plain time to get on the bike. I ran some errands, stopped at A.’s for a chat and some time staring at her cats, and then headed downtown to meet S. for food and holiday shopping–thwarted for her, but a winner for me as I chugged another Seasonal Latte. On my ride I was thinking about how advertising has become absolutely ubiquitous, and it only picks up this time of year, when we are all supposed to be buying things for each other, no matter our means or our desires. I hear people worrying about the way advertising is increasingly invasive, tracking our online habits and invading our privacy to shill us more an more specific things. When I log onto Facebook, for example, I’m offered bicycle stuff and cat stuff. How do they know that’s what I want? How do I tell the difference between what I want and what they tell me I want? Or do I want someone to tell me what I want? Wouldn’t I rather hear about newfangled bike safety gear than wedding dresses or gun shows or something else I will never, ever, ever want? But the thing is, let’s not pretend that focused marketing is new, or that creating a market by creating a consumer identity is an internet phenomenon (c.f. the commercial production of “the cyclist” as someone who needs an entirely separate wardrobe, grocery list, a panoply of books and magazines, etc. from the early days of cycling). I stopped at a red light at the corner of Simon Bolivar and MLK and noticed these ads on a power pole, one for DNA testing and another for extras for a Mark Whalberg/Kate Beckinsale project that I’m guessing finds our stars in some real gritty urban drama. This is some niche marketing here, playing on all kinds of stereotypes and assumptions about who lives and passes through this particular Central City corridor. Yeah, this whole niche marketing thing is old hat and low tech. It’s good to be home, by the way–I love riding in the city.
Merry Christmas, Kate. So glad to read about your solo camping trip. That’s something I enjoy, too.
Happy to have you back home. It’s always more comfortable in your own bed but some times you just need to get away. Merry Christmas