Is there any way to stop ad creep?

Published 6:53 pm, Thursday, April 27, 2017

Mark Bartholomew, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

(THE CONVERSATION) Ethics lawyers and historians have argued that Donald Trump has blurred the line between his public office and private business interests in an unprecedented fashion.

In another sense, it’s part of a much larger social trend.

Commercial entreaties – whether in the form of magazine ads, radio jingles or television spots – have long been a part of modern life. But advertising is now encroaching on public space as never before.

Cities and states now grant businesses the right to put their names and logos on parking meters, bridges, fire hydrants – even lifeguard swimsuits. Public parks intended to offer a respite from the travails of daily life now allow retailers to advertise amidst historical sites and nature preserves. School boards ink deals with all sorts of businesses to help them meet their budgetary needs.

It’s not just public space that is filling up with brand shout-outs. In conducting research for a new book on modern marketing and its regulation, I discovered that a host of once ad-free environments – from the living room to our friendships – are now becoming sites for ads or surveillance technologies designed to make them more effective.

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Some might shrug, calling the ad creep an inevitable part of modern life. But there are dangers to this trend, along with legal remedies – if people care enough to actually do something.

New marketing techniques and technologies allow businesses to reach consumers in new ways and venues. One space becoming increasingly critical to market researchers is the home.

Smart technologies – from…

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