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Advertising Creep Takes Hold of Chicago Airport




When it comes to advertising, there’s nothing like a captive audience, like, for example, the people stuck in the security queue at the airport, or the person in the public bathroom stall. They can’t go anywhere, use a fast forward button or turn down the sound, so why not hit them with advertising!

The city of Chicago is doing just that. The Chicago Sun Times says that O’Hare airport will soon be plastered with ads on everything from the bathroom mirrors, to the escalator handrails, to the bins you put your shoes in when going through the metal detector. It’s part of the new “municipal marketing” plan and could bring in $750,000 in revenue next year.

To keep people from balking at idea of being force-fed advertising, airport officials say that the ads actually serve a dual-purpose.

“An ultra-violet light in the escalator ad . . . allows us to sterilize the handrail as well as greeting people when they’re entering the escalator.”

Digital ad placements can also be overridden to show important evacuation information in the case of an emergency.

It sounds like a win-win for the city and the advertisers but what about for the millions of people who pass through the airport. Won’t a constant barrage of information add to the already high stress level of travelers? There’s really only so much input one person can take!

Advertising creep is taking over the city,  not just at the airport but even in sports. Earlier this month, the Blackhawks announced that they would be wearing Giordano’s Pizza patches on their jerseys — not the ones they play in, but on their practice jerseys. Who made that deal?

Says the Blackhawk’s VP:

“Right now the economy is dictating that not only advertising, but sports teams, deliver real value. So we have to look at everything. We have to consider things like advertising on our sweaters.”

I’m all for advertising, obviously, or I wouldn’t be here. But is there any place in the world where we can go about our business without being offered a brand logo?

This surgical procedure is being brought to you by the makers of Advil.

Where will it end?

** Just after I wrote this piece, I sat down to eat  Chinese food. I cracked open my fortune cookie and couldn’t believe what I found inside. An advertisement for the restaurant with a coupon for a free kid’s meal. Enough already. Enough! **