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Advertising is not black and white – Sometimes it’s both

Posted by putsimply on 26th August 2009

A friend of mine said to me the other day that he objected to the internet.

“Object to the internet?” I cried, aghast! As a keen denizen of Skynet’s beta test version I found it hard to believe that anyone could hold this opinion. Still less could I understand it.

My friend’s objection ran thus: In the halcyon days, when we only had three channels of telly, we had central, skilled figures who would pick the programming. These ‘experts’ would tell us what to watch, and weed out the chaff. That would explain why we got ten years of The Generation Game.

What about choice? What about the democratisation of content? Much of what I find to be the best content ever to have appeared in the history of anything ever would never have made it onto telly. Computer Man, Jesus Christ SuperCop, Teen Girl Squad, Weebl & Bob. The list goes on….

In my opinion, if you spend a little time on the web, you soon find sites and individuals that recommend the kind of content you wish to read; people of like mindsets, or people you find interestingly disagreeable. In that sense the net eventually becomes self-filtering.

However, this friend of mine had one particularly disarming argument; one I can’t really argue with. The internet allows nonsense to proliferate at an alarming rate. Take for example the popularity of videos of kittens falling over, or the mindless reproduction of rumours such as ‘On average we each eat eight spiders a year while asleep’. What about the balance of the current healthcare debate in America? On the internet nonsense breeds faster than a chubby-chaser in Fatsville.

This was the first thing I thought about this morning when somebody showed me the following: In a recent advert Microsoft has, supposedly, photoshopped out a black guy to make an ad more relevant to its Polish audience.

Shocking stuff.

I recognise the paradox of propagating this image while telling people it’s a bad idea. But let me say this: As yet we have no proof of where this has come from. I have seen no proof yet that this image is genuine. We also have no proof that this image wasn’t simply a mistake made by an over-zealous ad agency, to which Microsoft was not party. And no, before you ask, I’m not Microsoft’s PR.

None of this matters, of course, in the final analysis. This will spread like wildfire And why? Because people want it to be true. It’s funny, it kicks into a large corporation, and it’s an easy size to forward via email.

This image, however, put a final nail in my argument for the internet’s validity as an information resource. As soon as I saw this image the first thing I thought was ‘Oh, that’s so old hat. I’ve seen precedent for this before. On the intertron!

That’s right. The net has filled my head with so much rubbish I am, essentially, unshockable.

Next stop, Kung Fu.