Hal Roberts points out in the early days of advertising, it was customary to include jingles in printed copy. As Roberts puts it,
"The idea of advertising as poetry seems quaint today, but actually more possible in the age of the text only AdWords format. It’s striking that AdWords today consists only of straightforward sells."
Striking indeed and a little depressing. Anthropologically, the interesting thing about ads is that they are constantly inhaling and exhaling culture meanings. Good ads are simple acts of Aristotelian metaphor. They take meaning from the world and invest it in the product, brand or service. Clearly, this "respiration" doesn't happen at all when the copy writer is restricted to copy.
Naturally some people will say that cutting advertising off at the knees as Adsense does is a good thing. After all, advertising is a bad thing. So speaks Barber, Ewen, Galbraith, Klein and Riesman. But in fact I think advertising has been a very interesting way for our culture to rehearse its option, canvass its possibilities, and rebuild and various buff and polish as it seeks to stay in touch with its own dynamism. So speak Brantlinger, Cowen, Docker, Dickstein, Pells and Susman.
What to do about Google ads? Roberts charming idea is that we should resusitate jingles. Splendid. How about some images while we're ad it. I am not saying 4 color, 2 page layouts or anything. Just a little something more than a handful of words.. I'm saying let's open up the door to meaning that it might flourish even here.
Roberts, Hal. 2008. Watching Technology from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. November 12, 2008. here.
Barber, Benjamin R. 1995. Jihad Vs. McWorld.New York: Time Books/Random House.
Brantlinger, Patrick. 1983. Bread and Circuses: Theories of Mass Culture as Social Decay.Ithaca:Cornell University Press.
Cowen,Tyler 1998. In Praise of Commercial Culture. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Docker, John. 1994. Postmodernism and popular culture: a cultural history. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Dickstein, Morris. 1999. Leopards in the Temple: The transformation of American Fiction, 1945-1970. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Ewen, Stuart. 1976. Captains of Consciousness: Advertising and the Social Roots of the Consumer Culture. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Galbraith, John Kenneth. 1958. The Affluent Society. Boston : Houghton Mifflin.
Klein, Naomi. 2000. No logo: no space, no choice, no jobs taking aim at the brand bullies. Toronto : A.A. Knopf .
Pells, Richard H. 1989. The liberal mind in a conservative age: American intellectuals in the 1940s and 1950s. Middletown : Wesleyan University Press.
Riesman, David. 1964. Abundance for what? Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday.
Susman, Warren I. 1984. Introduction: Toward a history of the culture of abundance: some hypotheses. Culture as History: The transformation of American society in the Twentieth century. Pp. xix-xxx. New York: Pantheon Books.
My apologies for the mixing of typefaces. Google's chrome and Typepad continue to play together only under supervision and even then too often it ends in tears.