Walking down Nostrand today, way, WAY later than I wanted to be, I passed a school bus parked outside of the local preschool. Prototypical yellow cheese bus, napping driver, engine off. And plastered across the side of the bus, like it wasn't out of the ordinary at all, was a billboard. Not only a billboard, but an age-appropriate one for a children's clothing company. From an advertising standpoint, the thing that stopped me dead was, it wasn't targeted at the kids but at their parents, hopefully doing the right thing by dropping their kids off at the bus. No kid in the world would ever think that French Toast was a cool brand to wear, if they even thought about such things. I'm all for a free market, but that crossed a line in my head. It now holds second place to the time I saw a Post Office truck with a Microsoft ad on the back.
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Walking again, home this time and from the opposite direction down Nostrand (I live between two subway stops, so whatever's convenient is how I get home), with a bellyful of whiskey sours, I passed by the local Crown Fried Chicken. I wasn't going to stop but the counter guy, a young Indian man I've come to know quite well, waved to me and I couldn't say no. His eyes lit up and everything, and that moment of recognition was enough to drag me from 'I couldn't possibly eat,' to 'mmm.' And I thought, that, right there, that is advertising done the right way. It's personal, and communal, and effective at a rate that would make Coca-Cola's jaw drop.
And I thought about that, munching on chicken, and about this morning, and figured that it balanced out in a way I could totally deal with.