Commercial Advertising

Do many of the Web pages that you view resemble the painting below?

Parry's 'A London Street Scene'

John Orlando Parry, A London Street Scene, 1835. Click to see a larger image. Someone has even pasted a bill on the supporting timbers which are preventing the building from falling down. At the center the artist's name is on one of the bills. Notice the pickpocket at the lower-left. Think of him as a form of malware.

Commercial advertising is everywhere, all the time.

At best commercial advertisers are like a bunch of unruly children waving their hands in the air and crying "Pick me! Pick me! Pick me! "

At worst, well, we like George Orwell's metaphor: "There was hardly a soul in the [New Albion publicity] firm who was not perfectly well aware that publicity -- advertising -- is the dirtiest ramp [swindle] that capitalism has yet produced." ... "They had their cynical code worked out. The public are swine; advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill-bucket" (Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936), Chapter 3).

Many of us detest the sound of the stick in the swill bucket. Some are deaf. And others trot to the trough to eat the slops.

ad for College of Beauty



Apparently, the College of Beauty can make your feet smaller (The Strand Magazine, Vol 7 [London: George Newnes Ltd., 1894], 553).


An often overlooked form of commercial advertising is the placement of manufacturers' names and logos on products -- in effect, mini-billboards.

Where can you go to be free of commercial advertising?

We can't avoid it by staying at home. We would have to abstain from radio, television, magazines, newspapers and the Internet and keep our kitchen cupboards closed. Still, our refrigerators, ranges, microwaves, coffee makers and other appliances display the manufacturers' names and logos -- as do our TVs, DVD players, computers, ebook readers and clocks in other rooms. Generally, if it runs on electricity it's a billboard, although even faucets and toilets tells us who made them.

There is no refuge in our automobiles; the maker's name and emblem is displayed several times on the inside and outside. And on the back of the car we carry around an advertisement for the dealer from which we bought the vehicle.

If we go to a hospital we are confronted with pads, pens and various medical equipment with logos and manufacturers' names as well as televisions everywhere spewing commercial advertisements.

In schools we find advertisements on book covers and vending machines and on scientific, musical, industrial and sports equipment. Some schools pipe in the morning news with ads. And then there are the sports fields and scoreboards.

Restaurants? There is a correlation between the size of our bills and the amount of advertising we are subjected to.

Libraries? They are generally safe if we stay out of the periodicals and computing sections. But, of course, nearly every book proclaims its publisher on its spine.

Churches? Not always. Restrooms? Not any more. Cemeteries -- how ironic.

There is no commercial advertising on our Web site nor in our products.