I’ll be the first to admit that advertising often isn’t logical. It appeals to the consumer’s emotions, hopefully in a positive way. Having walked past the above pictured trash bins for the last two years and seeing these signs have only elicited my confusion and frustration.

We’ve already examined the fallacy of correlation = causation before. What have I proven by looking at the sign?

  1. The sign is placed in a conspicuous location at the eye level of many pedestrians.

That’s it. All Creative Outdoor Advertising has proven is that the sign is placed somewhere that is trafficked. Advertising is not just about eyeballs. There’s a concept in marketing called conversion. Advertising is only as effective as its ability to induce behavior. For Creative to prove anything, it has to show that the use of its own advertising has actually convinced people to buy advertising space from them. A successful conversion for Creative would be a purchase of space; a failed conversion would be a blog entry negatively criticizing its tactics.

But wait, perhaps the concept of conversion is more important in the online realm and isn’t that vital a measurement in real world advertising. That is just ludicrous. What is the point of advertising that does not induce action or awareness? It’s not like Creative is benefiting from brand awareness.

I especially like this other fallacy of causation in their FAQ:

Why should I advertise on a bench/recycling unit?
Street furniture advertising has seen high success rates in reaching potential customers. Many of our clients have been with us for over 7 years and with a 75% contract renewal rate it just further reaffirms that street furniture advertising is a proven, cost effective means for communicating to your current and future clients.

They measure their success rate by the evidence that their clients haven’t decided to pull their ads. The longevity of the contracts is questionable. I imagine that those companies that choose to advertise on trash cans aren’t too devoted to cutting edge advertising techniques. They probably have never heard of social networking. The products or services that these clients advertise are also probably local to the community. Also, a high contract renewal rate only reveals that the marginal cost of continuing the ad is less than the marginal benefit of associating your product/brand with trash. It doesn’t mean that the initial cost would be worth it for new clients. A more convincing statistic would be some statistic about the success of clients’ ad campaigns after the introduction of garbage advertising. Of course, Creative doesn’t have these numbers so it must rely on the imprecise measure of contract renewals. That would entail actually proving that the ad works.

Perhaps Creative Outdoor wins after all; they got me to write about the stupidity of their campaign.

Slim Slow

Riding the bus I overheard a conversation between a man and a woman about which movie was the scariest. Predictably the man said Saw and the woman said The Exorcist with the addendum, “because Saw is just a movie, but The Exorcist could really happen.” Needless to say fourteen ellipses paraded through my brain in succession at this utterance. “Psychotic killers are not real, but demon possession is” was the basis of her opinion. We can only hope she was sterile. Nevertheless, we should suspend our sense of reality and accept as fact her delusion that we may examine on equal footing these two positions. Saw’s terror lies in physical and psychological torment inflicted on a victim in a more or less arbitrary fashion. The victim suffers pain as a direct and indirect response to the self-preservation instinct. In The Exorcist the characters fear having their soul corrupted by sin. Here we are again deforming the shape of truth to fit “sin” loosely over “immoral actions” by ignoring the troublesome oxymoron, “religious morality.”


The reason this is significant is that one may tell a lot about a person by their greatest fear and a film can invoke that fear in ways that are experienced similarly by all viewers. One generally fears losing that which is valuable to them, therefore reaction to horror films is a window of insight into someone’s values. Those who fear Saw most value their physical and mental comfort; those who fear The Exorcist most value spiritual integrity. While I cannot agree with her choice of movie, I do agree with her in principle so that for me the scariest movie is The Machinist. There can be many other possibilities: insanity, dishonor, confinement (i.e. Virginia Woolf), emotional pain, the afflictions of loved ones, chaos or the unknown, permanent destruction of something sacred. A good experiment in personal discovery might be to watch well made horror films which use different fears and observe your experience of them.


Chief Digressor

The scariest movies for me are not the ones that are most realistic. Psychotic killers do not bother me because they are still confined by the rules of the physical world. Whereas paranormal events and entities are not constrained in the same way. I know what it takes to stop a serial killer, a vicious dog, or a school or piranha (get out of the water), but I don’t know what it takes to stop a ghost, a vampire, or a demon. Contrast that with a zombie apocalypse, for which I am overprepared. It is the unexplainable that I fear the most, hence my childhood fear of the dark. You can’t prepare for what you don’t know, or worse, can’t stop.