BS and advertising

Blog | Oct. 28, 2010

I have been thinking about Cracked’s article describing 5 Reasons The Future Will Be Ruled By B.S., particularly this:

We’re celebrating that we don’t need to pay greedy corporations because technology means we can get more and more of what we want for free, but at the same time, we’re moving toward an era when corporations won’t need to pay us.

A pretty bleak future where the wheels of industry grind to a halt, until you realize this argument is based not around industry and hardware, but on movies, music, books and games — entertainment. Jeff Koons has made a name for himself on the unbelievably inflated price of his art, but maybe that cuts to the core of the issue, that the monetary value of entertainment, even artistic expression, is ultimately arbitrary. When does a 12-foot aluminum balloon dog become more valuable than the man-hours and cost of materials it took to make it?

But say you work in an entertainment industry, a business predicated on making money off things like movies, music, books, and games. As Gizmodo points out, they aren’t going to accept a pay cut to live within the means that 99¢ rentals and $2 ad impressions allow. And since raising prices on content when it’s free to find a myriad of other ways, the way to make up the difference is by raising ad rates. This passes the cost onto the company doing the advertising, who passes the cost onto you. TV will cost 99¢ an episode, but the products in the 30-second, unskippable ad before it will become more expensive. Recall Koons’ art: an arm and a leg for trinkets and knick-knacks. We’ve achieved cheap entertainment at the cost of real-world goods, and learned that while there may be free TV, there’s still no such thing as a free lunch.


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