Cell Phone Ads

I was working for the New York Mets when the first signs went up behind home plate. Invisible to fans in the ballpark, they were extremely visible to the television audience. It was jarring to see the Armitron logo as Bobby Bonilla hit (although, frankly, Bonilla was more irritating than the sign). Fans wrote angry letters, and sportwriters wrote angry columns.

And then everyone got used to it and moved on.

The signs stayed, and are now in every ballpark. Walk into any arena, and there are signs everywhere you can put a sign. The bowl games all have title sponsors. The arenas have corporate names. There are ads on shopping carts, fire trucks, bathroom walls.

Now comes the next frontier — ads on your cell phone. And Seth Godin’s not happy. Neither am I — it will make my job that much harder. Consumers are confronted with a greater onslaught of advertising every year. They react by filtering more and more of it out, which makes it tougher for the campaigns I create to get past the filters.

But the cell phone ads are coming, no matter how many angry letters we write. Unless…

Unless, when Verizon starts doing it, everyone dumps Verizon and goes to Cingular. And if Cingular tries it, everyone dumps them and goes to Sprint.

That’s asking a lot of the American consumer, who has passively sat back and accepted every other intrusion. More likely, we’ll all complain. And then we’ll get used to it and move on.

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