Celebrate National Advertising Day on Sunday


It’s right and proper that the ad has its own high holy day which, as Robert Lipsyte points out, we call the Super Bowl. After all, the ad has so much to celebrate. It’s been the great colonizing force of our age. When I was younger, for a period, I subscribed to the trade magazine Advertising Age, not because I had anything to do with the business, but because I was fascinated by the fact that, no matter how obscure the subject, the ad had an interest in (and a perspective on) it.

In a sense, in this century, the ad has inherited the restlessness once associated with the American pioneering spirit. The Marlboro Man, it turns out, was more than a logo. The ad can’t stay still. It’s always searching for, and moving into, new territory, and then trying to settle down, often initially alone and under attack. It is expansionist by nature, never taking no for an answer. By my childhood, the ad had already redefined most common space as consumer space. In my lifetime, the ad has broken almost every taboo, and into just about every previously sacred (or profane or private) space. It’s made it into the bedroom, first via the radio and then, far more strikingly, the TV set; into the school, the doctor’s office, and the airport; onto the sides of buses, into and onto taxis, into elevators, onto gas pumps, and above urinals, as well as into your pocket, thanks to the iPhone and the like. You name it, and the ad’s invaded its territory. One of the last largely ad-free bastions in the culture, the book, is about to fall to next generation Kindles, iPads, and other “readers” which will, like the rest of the Internet, be ad-friendly.

Weirdly enough, the spread of the ad may not be due to its persuasiveness, but to its ineffectiveness. “Clutter,” the collectivity of all those ads in familiar space that you just tune out, is the motor that seems to drive the ad into virgin territory, which it invariably colonizes until all the other ads follow, driving it on again. The constant flight of the ad from (or around or above) the clutter could be the prime narrative of the last hundred years, as it has driven itself deeper and deeper into what one might someday hesitate to call “our” lives.

As for ads and sports don’t get me started. Fortunately, Robert Lipsyte, former New York Times sports columnist and TomDispatch Jock Culture Correspondent, is back from a long sabbatical writing a memoir (and doing a little TV on the side) to cover the play-by-play, and offer some classic highlights from Sportsworld’s highest holy day. (To catch him in a superb audio interview with TomDispatch’s Timothy MacBain discussing why sports matter, click here.) He’s been to the Super Bowl for TomDispatch before, but never this way. So sit back and watch, just like I’m going to do.

One More Thing

And it's a big one. Mother Jones is launching a new Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on the corruption that is both the cause and result of the crisis in our democracy.

The more we thought about how Mother Jones can have the most impact right now, the more we realized that so many stories come down to corruption: People with wealth and power putting their interests first—and often getting away with it.

Our goal is to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We're aiming to create a reporting position dedicated to uncovering corruption, build a team, and let them investigate for a year—publishing our stories in a concerted window: a special issue of our magazine, video and podcast series, and a dedicated online portal so they don't get lost in the daily deluge of headlines and breaking news.

We want to go all in, and we've got seed funding to get started—but we're looking to raise $500,000 in donations this spring so we can go even bigger. You can read about why we think this project is what the moment demands and what we hope to accomplish—and if you like how it sounds, please help us go big with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate