“I Do Love Fig Newtons”

There is a scene in the movie Talladega Nights, where the race car driver character played by Will Farrell, sells the advertising space on the windshield of his car.  “This sticker is dangerous and inconvenient,” he says. “But I do love Fig Newtons” (the advertiser whose logo was obscuring his views).

What are the Fig Newton ads that you see in the real world?  Ones that cross over the line.  They are everywhere.

Phil Lenger from Show+Tell recently presented at a conference where he showed a picture of advertising gone wild when no one was advocating for the customer or the space in the conversation.  Every single surface of a public market was covered in some kind of messaging or brand language.  How can we ensure that this doesn’t happen in the future?  Is the role of the space owners?  Of government or municipal entities? 

Usually a fan of small government, I think this is an area where governments or public entities need to set and enforce standards based on what the consumers in the community want to experience.  The advertisers don’t have the context to limit themselves.  The space owners have a conflict of interest.  The individual consumers are not powerful enough to set and enforce policy (and the tools that consumers have to use to encourage self-regulation or government intervention, which include organizing rallies, petitions, boycotts, or the like, aren’t very efficient and of marginal effectiveness in a noisy environment with a fickle “news cycle” driven attention span).