A Cobbler’s Shingle

Cobbler’s Shingle

Walking the streets of old Montreal, Anne snapped this pic of a cobbler’s shingle, wooden, with a nine-inch rusty nail through the toe and a boot tongue that if painted red, would remind one of Mick Jagger’s. Wow, it hurts just to look at it. How did they ever get their foot out? I hope their tetanus shot was up to date, but it seems like it would make for pretty effective advertising, hard, sharp and cruel, but to the point and impossible to forget later.

Nowadays, we’ve got Google ads. Look at anything online and these ads will follow you no matter where else you might go on the web. I’m always puzzled though as to why these ads appear only after I have already purchased that item. It is as if one is being cultivated as a repeat customer or maybe the left-hand doesn’t know what the right is doing. I suspect more disingenuous motives. These ads are targeted, meaning that I’m seeing them, because I am, or at least was, likely to buy this product. Google could even tout to their customer’s, the vendors whose wares are being hawk to me, the fact that I had just purchased one of these widgets as proof of their algorithm’s efficacy. As if to suggest that it’s not really Google’s fault that their ads were shown too late to make the sale.

Anne is experimenting with new to her quilting techniques. She learns all about them by watching instructional videos on YouTube. I was in the other room while she was doing this, but I could still hear the lessons and I could also hear when these videos were interrupted by ads, for more quilting materials. This seems a much more legitimate exercise in targeted advertisement than showing me other examples of a product that I have already purchased.

We are almost on the eve of one of the high holy days for Madison Avenue, Super Bowl Sunday. This event is reserved for the big boys, the titans of the marketing industry. As pay-to-play goes only the mighty can afford this game’s ante. How is a poor little Geppetto expected to compete? Two kinds of viewers tend to watch the Super Bowl, football fans and people who like the ads. At any watching party, an even balance of these two types helps to keep the line short for the restroom and guaranties no matter when you decide to take a leak that a roar from the living room will let you know you have missed something.

Here again people whose products are advertised are given only short shrift. They pay a fortune for their timeslot, producing these ads isn’t cheap either and they are often so esoteric that the product itself is lost in the mix. Case in point, Chrysler’s 2012 commercial starring Clint Eastwood, It’s Halftime, America. Everyone thought that it was more about selling Obama’s reelection than selling cars. Even Eastwood did, who went on to waste some of Romney’s valuable prime time speaking at an empty chair. Too meta for a Republican convention.

I’m way over my thirty-second spot limit here. Once I got going, I couldn’t stop. In these times when we have distanced ourselves from one another, things can take on outsized importance and when you are looking for new things to distract yourself with, you open the door to marketing. I hope that you really love those new shoes that you’ve just bought. Not too tight, I hope? Good.

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