Wednesday, April 19, 2006

How To Unplug The Effects Of Advertising OR Turn Off The Sound

Are we helpless beings subjected to the onslaught of advertising or can we do something? Maybe something simple but very effective?

While it is easy to rant and rave about how bad advertising has become, much of the responsibility for dealing with it lies with us, the consumers. If you don't like ads, don't just sit there and take it. Do something.

The most powerful thing you can do when watching television is to turn off the sound when an ad comes on. Doing this is very effective because it defeats the coordinated sound-picture combination so carefully crafted by advertisers. Sound with picture is much more that one plus one. In a sense its: one (sound) plus one (picture) equals three (the powerful combination of the two). So by turning off the sound you have reduced the effect of advertising by two-thirds.

David Lynch, the director-writer of movies such as Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive, has spoken about how effective this combination can be when used for artistic purpose: "Sound and picture moving together in time is a magical thing. And sound does so many things. You can have a scene and introduce the right sounds and the scene changes before your eyes and ears, a whole other world opens up, moods sweep in and those sounds can march us through and indicate so many things as we go. And it's one of the elements that's the most critical to the whole."

Advertising words and music are designed to stay in our heads. They are a major part of the conditioning that marketing employs. They are designed to be carried internally by consumers into the stores when they shop. I suspect many people hear an associated jingle when they buy a product. So by turning off the sound, you have thwarted this intrusion. You have accomplished more than avoiding the noise of ads at the moment, you have prevented them from continuing inside your mind.

If you haven't used the mute button regularly, it will take a while to get into the habit and may seem like a lot of effort at first. But simply picking up a remote and hitting mute is not all that hard! And it even burns a few calories while you are veging on the couch.

I have been doing this for at least thirty years. It has become so habitual that I don't notice. But I do notice when an ad comes on with sound. It is quite annoying, grating and irritating.

And turning off the sound is an active positive step we all can take. We can teach our children and keep others in the next room from hearing the ad. We can add to the silence instead of to the noise.


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