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A message from your sponsor

I well remember the first TV we had - a black and white 14 incher with just one programme - the BBC of course - and it closed down at about 23:00hrs to the tones of the national anthem and the union jack filling the screen. I don’t recall any writing superimposed.

How things have changed over the years. I now realise that to see 26 inches of picture I need to buy a 42 inch set. Seemingly every channel has its name in a small box and the time in another. The fact that it’s HD has to be emblazoned whilst a ‘breaking news’ banner rolls incessantly across the screen - even when the news ‘broke’ yesterday - along with the name of the person being interviewed, their role in life, inside leg measurement, the temperature in Grimsby and the ups and downs of the CAC40, whatever that is. Box sits next to box, below a flashing box, tied to a logo box - and then a cardboard box blows across for good measure.

On the road, in the shops, on stations and trains - we are bombarded with advertising clutter that none of us want. Distractions everywhere. But you can’t get away from them, even at home. Google pushes stuff at you as you surf the net or exchange emails; your letter box has become a waste disposal for the Royal Mail. Then there are the phone calls: “Hi, you’ve been chosen to have a half-price kitchen installed” or “you’ve won a prize in a raffle” you didn’t even enter. Lately I have taken to putting on a Goon Show-type voice and telling the caller that “matron says I can answer the phone today”. And to the offer of cut price double glazing? I always tell them that “we are renting but I will inform the landlord of the offer”. That usually gets rid of them for a few weeks.

...your letter box has become a waste disposal for the Royal Mail

But ads, of course are a gold mine. So we understand that Network Rail - eager to supplement its income - is running trials which, if judged a success, will be rolled out throughout its domain. In future, on-train announcements are to be prefaced with “This platitude is brought to you by…” Imagine the confusion when the ad man takes over seat reservation screens with pop-ups, drop downs, scrolls across, fades in or out, flashing messages… Lineside billboards are to be installed, with trains running at reduced speed to give passengers the opportunity to read them.

A small committee of compliance demons audits the billboards at Nether Thong Station.
Photo: Coderkind

When you ring control in future you will be asked a series of questions, invited to press a button based on an option menu, then put on hold to be given a message from their sponsors. Fault and maintenance vans will carry commercials while hardhats and HV clothing are to be given over to the ad man in the same fashion as F1 drivers.

The COSS will pause half way through his briefing to show two minutes of adverts on his smart phone which will remind workgroup members who is providing the safety pack. “This green zone is brought to you by Wishful Thinking: The Route to Theoretical Safety.” New Rule Book changes will have supplements added to them, offering all types of useless tat that nobody really wants but can be obtained via Freepost from a firm in the Channel Islands.

Now what we need is Alan Titchmarsh and B&Q to sponsor a few miles of cess and the lads might be convinced that advertising is perhaps a good thing. Throw in Charlie Dimmock and productivity will rocket!

Story added 1st April 2011

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