By Dick Meyer
Scripps Washington Bureau.
I am an “at risk” adult.
Without intervention, I might lose it. The trigger will be a random act of marketing.
Maybe it will be a pop-up ad that I can’t close; or one more telemarketing call at dinnertime; or a dumb ad on a coffee cup sleeve. I don’t know when, but I know it’s getting close and I know it will be ugly.
It almost happened earlier this week, sparked by a marketing transgression minor in the pantheon of crimes against our consumer dignity.
I called Walgreens to refill a prescription (no, not for the heavy tranquilizer I seem to need). After the robot voice warmly welcomed me to Walgreens, but before I could punch in all my various digits and codes, I had to listen to a lengthy message about Medicare Part D and how “your pharmacist” (as if…) would give me a free plan review.
I suppose it is a triumph of Big Data that Walgreens knows my neighborhood has lots of elders and targets them with irritating phone propaganda. But I curse it and the growing ubiquity of consumer brain-washing.
“The consumers in the digital world are not going to be captive viewers that will sit through 16 minutes of ads an hour,” Chase Carey, chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox, said recently.
Shame on us sheep for sitting through those 16 minutes for all these years.
But now the worthlessness of TV and print advertising is inspiring the devil worshippers in the advertising and tech industries to find ingenious and insidious ways to insert product propaganda into every nook and cranny of our attention span and unwitting subconscious. Computing power makes this cheap and easy; our behavior is traceable, so they supposedly know what we want and what we’ll do.