Go and take a look at this article. Go ahead, read it through, I’ll wait.
Back now? Okay, brace yourself while I rant a bit.
It’s an interesting use of technology, sure, but the way that the founder of Holosonics seems utterly oblivious to any possible criticisms speaks, to my mind (though thankfully not into it), volumes about the way that marketing and advertising seems to work nowadays; he seems unable to grasp the idea that as you’re walking along, you might not want to have someone trying to advertise directly into your head. Sometimes, when people are doing things, they’re actually not ready to be sold or marketed to.
Despite the fact that a lot of advertisers and marketers see their work as some kind of artform, and have successfully duped a lot of people into believing this (testimony to their skills of persuasion, I guess), the underlying reason for their existence is to sell stuff. Call it ‘building brands’ or whatever you like, but they’re just selling stuff, not actually adding anything to the sum of human knowledge. And they seem oddly unaware of how sometimes, just sometimes, there are times and places when you don’t want to be advertised to.
This basic concept, it seems, is almost impossible for advertisers and marketers to understand; when I’m at home, I don’t want them to call me about books clubs or phone services, and when I’m walking along I don’t want someone beaming a message directly into my ear telling me about a TV show or something. The Holosonics development – which I’m hoping doesn’t really spread any further – is quite different from an ad on TV, radio, a billboard or even in print, as in all of those situations I have the choice to look away and curtail the advert if I’m not interested. If someone beams an audio ad into your head, then you have no choice as to when it ends. And that, it seems to me, is an unpleasant intrusion.
The specious comments about people ‘being sensitive’ to it, or comparing it with a loudspeaker annoying large numbers of people at one time (as opposed to individuals – what does he think large bodies of people are comprised of if not individuals?) show a slightly dismissive attitude to the idea that people might not want to be advertised to without permission, doesn’t it ? How would this chap care to be bombarded with ads for rival companies as he went about his daily business? Not much, I suspect.
I firmly and sincerely believe – and I appreciate this goes against current thinking in commercial and governmental circles – that there are some places which should be free from advertising and marketing. Schools are a key example – they’re places of education, not another potential market where Coke or Walkers or whoever can try to build ‘brand loyalty’ or some other nonsense. If the thinking goes that adverts should be allowed to go anywhere at all – and I can only conclude that this is so, if there’s a belief that beaming them directly into a person’s ear is acceptable – why are they not trying to advertise within churches, mosques and synagogues? I think we all know why.
There are, then, some limits on where adverts can be (and indeed, should be) placed, though these ad-free zones certainly seem to be on the decline. And I don’t find it in the least bit reassuring to see it implied – through the whole Holophonics sales pitch – that my ear canal is no longer seen as being a private place.
Who knows which orifice is next?