The United States of Advertising - Tire Review Magazine

The United States of Advertising

Don’t get me wrong: I love advertising. Especially in our humble magazine.

But sometimes one has to ask when enough is enough.

Our state’s rest stops are apparently expensive to maintain. Four-star centers they are not, but Ohio spends $18.5 million annually to maintain 107 of them.

With the state budget in shambles, Ohio is considering selling ad space at the rest stops…to pay for the rest stops. “This toilet sponsored by….”

The WSJ recently carried a story about a spate of financially distressed school districts that are considering selling ad space on their school buses, even allowing classrooms to have corporate sponsorships. One church stepped up with a $5,000 “gift,” seeing the local elementary school as an expressway to boosting membership.

My high school is currently seeking a corporate sponsor for its new (and well under-funded) football field, taking a page out of any number of Texas high schools that have already done the same.

Airports have become less about efficient transport and more about shopping malls and billboards. Want to get your luggage? Well, it’s over at the Home Depot conveyor.

Last week I was at the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai – the renamed World’s Fair of old. Nearly 200 countries had pavilions at the event, and daily attendance pushed 500,000. That’s daily.

We visited a handful of pavilions – Germany, Italy, France, China and the U.S. among them. And I was embarrassed by the U.S. display (as were others in our party), and not surprised to learn that it had been well-panned by outside reviewers. Formidable in floor space, the display consisted only of two video presentations – one featuring spokespeople from various corporate sponsors – and a large hall that did nothing but praise and promote the companies that ponied up to pay for the U.S. of A’s pavilion.

Nothing about our culture and heritage. No pictures of breathtaking vistas. Nary a mention of our history or any attempt to bookmark our place in the world. Not even an amber wave of grain.

That’s the face we want to show to the rest of the world? America is one giant NASCAR racer?

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