COKE ZERO PRESENTS: NPF

In the interest of "preventing terrorism" security guards at Yankee Stadium are confiscating sunblock from paying customers as they enter. That's a questionable thing to do to people who are paying $50 to sit motionless in the searing July sun for three hours. But don't worry! Inside the stadium they will sell you 1 oz packets of SPF 15 for $5. At least it's Terrorist Proof Factor is off the charts.

Leave it to New Yorkers to take being a raging dick to a new level. But this is just part of a larger trend – extract revenue at all costs – and certainly par for the course in an industry that charges $8 for a Miller Lite. If I may speak candidly, I fucking hate being advertised to. I understand that advertisements are necessary to sustain businesses like print or broadcast media. In most industries, though, it's simple greed. We pay $9 per movie and have to sit through 5 minutes of Axe Body Spray / National Guard ads. We force kids to watch ChannelOne in schools, lest they miss a batch of Stridex commercials. And going to a live sporting event is little more than a three-hour exercise in being advertisted to these days.

I'm not so naive as to think that any for-profit enterprise run by rational people is going to turn down the chance to make a buck, but sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. As Tim Gunn might say, you have to edit. The theater might ask itself "Well, these folks are already paying $9 for a ticket and $10 more for some Diet Coke and popcorn. Do we really need to pile on the commercials?" The unblinking answer these days is Yes. Yes We Do.

It wasn't that long ago that I could go to a baseball game (at Comiskey Park or County Stadium or Tigers Stadium, now US Cellular Field, Miller Park, and Comerica Park) and enjoy the seventh inning stretch, not the Yahoo! Seventh Inning Stretch into Savings At Wal-Mart. Bringing in relief pitchers used to be a fun opportunity to mock the departing starter and perhaps catch a glimpse of that silly bullpen car. That has been replaced by the Verizon Wireless Call to the 'Pen. The jumbovision plays Chevy Truck commercials among the Doritos Home Run Replay (Doritos: The Official Triangular Pressed-Corn Leavings Chip of YOUR Kansas City Royals). Male fans get to take a leak with "urinal advertising" 8 inches from their faces. Can I please piss without being told of the wonders of 1-800-CASINO.com (Not a gambling site)?

Sadly our society bombards people with so many sponsorships, pitches, ads, and commercials that most people either barely notice or would feel naked without them. Yes, we are a free country and businesses may do whatever paying customers are willing to bear. The Yankees can confiscate their fans' sunblock and charge them $5 to replace it, but should they? We can slap a Geico ad on every flat surface on the planet, but should we? We can sell the naming rights to our National Parks (seriously, that is a real proposal) but should we? Alas, with all the hyper-free-market leg-humping of the past two decades, we see the idea of corporate sponsorship as the mark of quality.

Be Sociable, Share!

14 Responses to “COKE ZERO PRESENTS: NPF”

  1. Warmbowski Says:

    I hate naming rights. I miss the naming of baseball fields (and many other buildings) after, not so famous, or infamous people. You know, people that either made a mark in their municipality or for the team, or built the damn things. Even though the ballpark in my town (Seattle) probably ended up with one of the not-so-stupid corporate names (Safeco – sounds basballish), I would love it if they were to change the name to honor the 31 year voice of the Mariners and best damn broadcaster in recent baseball years, and call it –

    "The Niehaus"

    Way to go Dave! Soon to be in Cooperstown.

  2. Warmbowski Says:

    I should mention that I don't go to Mariner games for some of the reasons that you stated in your article, like Paying tons of money to get treated like shit. I tend to go to the minor league Mariner affiliate, just to the north. Short season single A, but still fun to watch. You get no hassles, they make all hot dogs half price after the 7th inning, funny things happen between innings (I miss you Herald the pig), and you can sit on a blanket on the grass and still have a great view, and (my biggest peeve) there is no forced cheers via any Diamondvision scoreboard. Not to mention, you see some of the best of the majors in their post injury minor league rehabs.

  3. Nan Says:

    I assume you've noticed that not even the one place you'd think you'd be safe from being an involuntary audience — the toilet stall — has been invaded? You make yourself comfortable on the throne, look up, and there on the back of the door is an ad placed right at eye level.

  4. Heqit Says:

    I second Warmbowski — non-pro baseball is where it's at. I don't have a minor league team within an hour's drive, but I am lucky enough to work for a college with a decent (not stellar) team. I get free (free!) tickets to my college's baseball games through my office, and it's great. No ads, cheap-ass concessions, and the park is 5 minutes from my apartment. And no one here gives a shit about any sport that isn't football, so it's never crowded and there's no parking hassle.
    Sucks for the team, I guess, but it suits my introverted self just fine. Oh, and they don't even look at your bags as you come in, let alone confiscate shit. Are you kidding me?

  5. BrianK Says:

    While I think your point is still valid, the Yankees just rescinded their sunscreen policy:

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/07232008/postopinion/editorials/the_yanks_wise_up_121180.htm

    Does this mean the terrorists have won?

  6. Matthew Says:

    Oh man, I wish you had taken this opportunity to announce that you're starting to use some sort of blogads. That would be the most delicious irony.

    Ah well. Also, why the Royals? I'm curious about what brought them to mind.

  7. Ed Says:

    Fuck blogads. Seriously, I can do without the $100/month I could make by plastering this site with ads.

    The Royals, well, the Royals seemed as humorous as anyone else. Plug in any team and the joke works. When I was a kid, the Black & Decker DustBuster paid to be the "Official hand-held vacuum of the Chicago Blackhawks." Even at age 7 I saw the humor in that.

  8. AC Says:

    Not only are the crappy books that tweens read filled with brand references, did you know that books written for that set now are shopping around for brand sponsorship too?

    http://jezebel.com/358651/young-adult-novels-plumb-new-depths-of-product-placement

    I fear the day my little sister asks my mom for some ridiculously priced designer object that she's read about, and my mom then kills her.

  9. Ed Says:

    Holy crap.

    I just threw up in my soul a little bit. But the "author" of those teen novels is correct: kids today wouldn't even recognize a world without branding. It would be far beyond their imaginations to comprehend that a particular fictional store in a novel was intended to represent Old Navy. The authors have to call it Old Navy.

  10. Samantha Says:

    The ultimate in product placement: The Waffle House Wedding. (slide show begins after the ad, naturally).

    http://video.ap.org/v/Legacy.aspx?partner=en-ap&g=9cef7047-3625-48e5-ab37-a81ba406c692&f=GALAW&mk=en-ap

    I am so proud to live in the fine, fine state of Georgia. Please note also the special bonus headline: "Dead Body Smell in Car"

  11. Chris Says:

    It kind of bothers me that business propaganda is shoved down your throat everywhere you look. It is kind of like being brainwashed, and the images businesses create are complete lies. Businesses pick a false reality for you, and then people relate happiness to all of the products they see and consumer culture, all for the benefit of somebody else. I know 1984 metaphors can be kind of cliche, but advertising is like the constant stream of radio propaganda from Big Brother that can't be turned off. Could people get away from advertising if they tried, or is it impossible? Can people fathom a life that doesn't include advertisements and buying crap, or even realize the truth of reality?

  12. j Says:

    I think Miller Park and Coors Field are the most palatable of the new sponsored sports arenas, because when you think of Miller or Coors you think of Milwaukee and Denver. Perhaps you could also include Tropicana Field with that list, because Florida = orange juice.

    Not to defend sponsored stadiums. C'mon people, McAfee Coliseum and PETCO park? WTF is that?

    Go Brewers!

  13. Scott Says:

    For the time being, baseball still has quite a few non-sponsored stadiums. There's still Dodger, Yankee, Shea and Dolphin Stadia, plus Fenway Park and Turner Field. Can other pro sports boast that?

    The worst offenders, I believe, are colleges and universities. My Florida Gators have an official orange juice (I guess that's ok, our football stadium is named after a citrus magnate), 2 official pizzas (one microwave and one delivery) and an official lumber – and that's all off the top of my head. I'm sure if I researched it, I could find even more. I can understand professional sports teams needing to have sponsors because they actually pay their athletes. The NCAA gets away without having to pay the stars of the show; where does all that sponsorship money go?

  14. Nate Says:

    The commercials and jacked up ticket prices are the main reason I don't go see movies in theaters anymore. It's just too much annoyance.