There ought to be some rules about advertising. There ought to be places where advertisers aren't allowed to get at us.
Newspapers and television are hurting because, in many cases, they're selling less advertising than they were two or three years ago. Part of that is because some companies are finding cheaper ways to put their messages in front of our eyes. A company called Whittle Communications is busy placing advertising in all sorts of places like schools, books and doctors' offices.I don't love television commercials or all the fliers folded into my Sunday newspaper, but at least when an ad is in a newspaper or on television, readers and viewers get something in exchange. A daily newspaper might cost $2.50 if it weren't for advertising.
The department store that gives you a fancy plastic bag with its name on the side is giving you something in trade for your being a walking billboard for them. That's fair.
It's the freeloaders I hate. I'd like to start a campaign against buying from companies that divert our attention from what we're doing with advertising where it doesn't belong and which doesn't give us anything back in exchange for our attention.
There has been an increase in the amount of advertising over the speaker systems in supermarkets. I enjoy shopping. I do not want some idiot with a recorded advertisement advising me to go to aisle seven to pick up a can of tuna fish at half the regular price.
I pay $26 for my ticket to each New York Giants home football game. I do not want to be interrupted from my enjoyment of the game, after having paid handsomely to get in, by a second-rate announcer suggesting that I go to a second-rate restaurant down the road after the game. Part of the enjoyment of actually going to a game, as opposed to watching it on television, should be freedom from commercials.
When I bought my new car a few months ago, I found that the dealer had affixed a plaque to my car with his name on it. Is this his car or mine? If a car dealer wants to advertise on my car, he should pay me by the day or the mile or, at the very least, give me free repairs and service.
Last week, I flew to Dallas on American Airlines. I like American and I think its president, Bob Crandell, is a bright, capable businessman. Mr. Crandell was on my American flight to Dallas.
When the movie screen lit up, there was some news from CNN, followed by an endless stream of commercials. American made it look like a news feature called ``Minding Your Business' but it was not a news feature. It was one hour-long commercial.
I decided to take a poll. The flight attendant said there were 241 passengers in the coach section. I walked up and down the aisles, and of those 241 people, seven had headsets on. When there's no movie, the headsets are free. I should think so.
Up front, in first class, there were 31 people, including Mr. Crandell. Like most of the passengers, Mr. Crandell was absorbed in his own work, dictating into a tape recorder, oblivious to the commercials his airline was inflicting on everyone.
``Is anyone watching this?' I asked the flight attendant in first class.
She looked around, stood on her toes and then said, ``Yes. There's one man up ahead with a headset on.'
It was rude of me but I walked forward and approached him.
``Pardon me,' I said, ``but are you watching these commercials?'
He looked puzzled for a minute and then, taking off his headset, said, ``Oh, no. I can't stand that hum ... the airplane noise. I just have that on to drown it out.'
How does an airline dare charge passengers hundreds of dollars for a flight, trap them in their seats (``Please keep your seat belts fastened') and then expose them to a series of commercials?
Someone might consider opening a resort which could promise tennis, golf, swimming, horseback riding and no advertising of any kind.