These original Kirt's Cogitations™ may be reproduced (no more than 5, please) provided proper credit is given to me, Kirt Blattenberger.
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Cog·i·ta·tion [koj-i-tey'-shun] – noun: Concerted thought or
reflection; meditation; contemplation.
Kirt [kert] – proper noun: RF Cafe webmaster.
Here is an indisputable fact: Most people are not willing to pay any amount for non-essential items they consider to be intangibles. That is to say if such an item is not regarded as having trading or bartering value, then there is usually resistance to paying for it. The behavior is particularly applicable to printed material (information), be it physical in the form of a magazine, or virtual in the form of a webpage. I am that way, and my guess is that you are, too.
Now, just because we are not willing to pay for access to certain information does not mean that we do not want to consume what is being offered, we simply do not care to trade our hard-earned income for it. That is where advertising comes into play. Television (over-the-air) and radio (AM & FM) broadcasts, websites, trade magazines (EE Times, Microwaves & RF, High Frequency Electronics, etc.), neighborhood sporting events, and many other venues that we access on a regular basis have costs entirely underwritten by companies willing to pay to have their message presented to that portion of the public benefitting from its investment. RF Cafe is such a venue.
An argument can be made that just because you do not have to shell out money from your pocket for access, there is actually a price being paid in the form of inconvenience. The presence of advertisements does create clutter and a distraction from the main topic of your interest. Mental processing time is required to separate the information from the "noise." In the case of radio and television, you must endure dedicated segments of advertising (or go do something else), while printed forms are more of a multitasking (even subconscious) effort. As much as advertising can be considered a nuisance, it obviously performs a needed function or it would have disappeared long ago. The fact is that almost all companies (those still in business, anyway) have something that people want or need, so other than word-of-mouth, advertising is necessary. In many situations, particularly in professional environments where vital information is needed to be successful, discovering a new opportunity by virtue of an advertisement can be a (figurative) life saver.
Companies notoriously have paid huge amounts of money to have advertisements designed to maximize effectiveness. Most notable are the recent Super Bowl campaigns where 30-second slots are being sold for millions of dollars. I have never been a big football fan, but in the last few years I have taken to watching the Super Bowl just to see the highly touted commercials. Coca-Cola and UPS would love to read that confession. Occasionally, the intended effect is realized, but often, IMHO, the advertisements fall way short of the intended outcome. Some are downright stupid and do more harm than good (like the Budweiser Clydesdale fart being ignited by the lovers' candle and torching them while they sit in the sleigh). The phrase "too clever by half" applies for many of them.
The pages of our trade magazines are populated with many types of advertisements; some are really good, others are really bad, and most are mercifully benign. I tend to notice the first two types. Below are a few examples of some of the ads that have stood out for one or the other of the two reasons. Company names and product identifiers have been removed. I am hoping the "Fair Use" rule applies to my reproducing part of these advertisements. You will probably recognize many of these. My comments, for what they are worth, are included.
Another effective metaphor. Like the nature paintings with embedded secondary images of animals,
you might at first glance miss the city inside (reminiscent of an old
vacuum tube chassis).
Well, maybe if the ringside female support staff associated with professional wrestling was also included in the image...
Send me your candidates with a short blurb about why you like or dislike them, and I will be glad to include them here (with appropriate credit).
- Kirt Blattenberger
Posted January 10, 2008