Thursday, October 06, 2005

Hockey and Soap

Well, hockey season is back. Vancouver beat Gretzky and his Coyotes in a half-interesting game. A few new rules in effect, but basically the same ol’ good ol’ hockey game. One thing I kept thinking about, however, was that this was 'free entertainment'. Hockey is a very expensive circus to run, and ticket and concession sales aren’t even coming close to covering the player’s salaries alone. The whole thing is run on advertising revenue. Just in a snapshot of a player you will see three prominent logos, Nike (helmets), Reebok (jerseys), and Oakley (visors). Not to mention the equipment. Then there are the billboards, the mandatory commercial breaks, and the 20-minute barrage of ads during the intermissions. All in the hope that we will buy Molson Canadian beer, wash our hair with Fructus, celebrate that hockey is back (what is the point of these ads?), use Extreme deodorant, and drink Coke Zero (which is basically Diet Coke targeted to men). But really, as with any free entertainment, advertisers are footing the bill. It isn’t really all that different from the Roman Coliseum and the Greek plays.

Soap Operas have similar origins. They began as radio plays sponsored by soap companies. It wasn’t until this century that people began taking baths or showers every day. Even 80 years ago such a concept would have been unheard of. Daily shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, hand cream, soaps etc. These are all culturally indoctrinated through a shame model perpetuated by Johnson and Johnson and Proctor and Gamble over fifty years ago through their advertising. Namely, through the socialization imposed by the soap operas.


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