Travel Tales: Advertising

There’s an article in October’s National Geographic Traveler magazine called “Read All About It” by Daisann McLane. She writes, “As I read local newspapers, I realize they’re in the same category as public squares: the heartbeat of any great place.” You can tell a lot about a place by its heartbeat. I haven’t gotten in the habit of reading local newspapers yet, unless I’m looking for listings or event details, but if reading the paper is anything like McLane describes it, I ought to try it immediately: “Reading the local paper is like roaming backstreets without a plan…It’s a wonderful way to get lost in the place.” Alright, you’ve talked me into it.

I’ve always found an effective, if somewhat lazy and uninspired, way of getting to know a place’s character is through the commercials on TV. Every time I go back to Germany, I look forward to seeing the new ads. I know in the day and age we live in it’s hard to avoid advertising, but it’s actually gotten to the point where I find it refreshing to be around completely new and unfamiliar advertisements. I know that’s a little depressing. Don’t get me wrong, I find nothing more revitalizing than turning off my phone and computer, but the commercials in a new place can also give you a peak into what’s going on in that city or country.

Commercials are like mini movies only nobody’s subtle about the product placement. I’m pretty susceptible to advertising. That Google one from this year’s Super Bowl made me cry. Then I went out and bought five Googles.

This one aired in 2004 in Europe. It didn’t make me cry, but it made me feel conflicted about my family.

There’d be a big divide between me and my Dutch cousins if I knew there were ads like this on regular rotation in Germany. It’s a good thing I don’t own a TV. Or live in Germany.


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