Monday, February 25, 2008

Another Musing on the Soiled Nest

There you are - thank you for stopping by again. I've just been downstairs hauling a stack of newsprint advertisements and junk mail to the big blue bin.

Some of the junk mail, I save. Specifically, the junk mail with postage-paid reply envelopes. What I like to do with these - seriously, I actually do this and recommend it - is stuff OTHER companies' junk mail into the envelopes and then post them. Give Consolidated Mutual Conglomerate of America, Inc. a taste of their own medicine - send them some junk mail they don't want.

The theatre company down on Riverside Drive sent a missionary to our street this weekend, and soon every automobile parked on either side was decked with a little paper advertisement under its windshield wiper.

It's a low-budget solution for marketing your show, and as far as getting people into your theatre to catch your show, it probably feels like it's better than nothin'. I wonder, though, how many choose to take in your show because you stuck a card on their car's windshield, sharing advertising space with landscapers and insurance "companies" that are headquartered in some dude's kitchen?

How much thought goes into all of this flyer advertising? When I was trying to advertise my fledgling theatre school any way I could, I stuck a few flyers in places I thought were strategic. It occurs to me that I never went back to dispose of the unwanted ones. Disposal was a problem I left to somebody else.

A billboard, you drive past. Something tucked under your windshield wiper ("ARE YOU PAYING TO MUCH FOR YOU'RE CAR INSURANCE??") becomes your problem. Just like the junk mail you clear from the mailbox every day, the faxes you pull off your fax machine in the morning, and the text messages you delete, trying not to remember that you are paying for your friends to remind you about their show - several times. (I had a friend's theatre company text me about her show 5 times, after I had bought a ticket. I asked for a dollar rebate.)

Well, I won't do it. That flyer from the Knightsbridge Theatre is STILL on my windshield as of Monday night. It flies like a tiny flag, wappa-dappa-flappa down the freeway. Of course, it might blow off and fall into the ocean along with business cards and Chinese restaurant menus ("CHEF TO-MAYN - YOU WON'T HAVE TO GO TO WORK TOMORROW") and real estate circulars and diverse crap emblazoned with advertising messages, floated into the marketplace (and the ecosystem) like forlorn messages in bottles, with no thought given to them beyond the advertising itself. Then you have to clean it up, and if you complain, you are cast as an opponent of free speech.

At the Zen Center, I charged this collision of free speech abuse and rubbish disposal when I noticed we were getting hit every single day with a little plastic bag full of advertisements that were of no interest to us. Every day, the entire neighborhood got deliveries of these baggies, flung into their hedges, hung from their doorknobs, and so on. No phone number on the bag. No phone number on the website listed on the bag.

I became curious. I investigated and finally got a corporate office and a phone number and, well, I was Alice in Wonderland. They said they would take us off their "delivery list" and never did; the righteously defended their right to litter in the name of the First Amendment, and would hear no entreaty; and then they stopped taking my calls.

Clearly my value system is screwed up.

A plot was conceived - a collection of all these baggies advertising dental products and work-at-home schemes and psychic readings and suchlike pooh, until the back of a truck was full of them, followed by a visit to said corporate office with a very special delivery - an innocent mission to return "something you dropped."

Conceived, yes; spoken aloud to other people, even. Yet the garden needed work, and then something else came up, and the mood passed. But I still send my junk mail to Bank of America, by God; and I ask telemarketers if I can call them back on their home phone.

1 comment:

Jane R said...

Oh, excellent. Someone suggested a few years ago that I do this and I forgot. Thanks.

P.S. Miss Maya Pavlova sends greetings to the Pussycat of Eternal Evil -- delicately of course from the tip of her nose and white paws. No, wait, she thinks she'll have a nap instead.