"Still, I think marketers are playing with fire by ambushing people at every turn. The more varied the places in which their ads appear, the more diverse the human situations in which they’ll be received. A result may turn out to be anger, not a sale."

There was an article in the New York Times Magazine last weekend from a self-confessed non-marketer who has been overcome with the proliferation of marketing messages. He first started to notice when he put his shoes at an airport security check in a tray on an ad for Rolodex. “Why are Rolodex advertising where my smelly shoes are?” Walter Kirn thought. Some of you readers may have noticed that we’ve been banging on about Urban Spam for a while now.

Still, I think marketers are playing with fire by ambushing people at every turn. The more varied the places in which their ads appear, the more diverse the human situations in which they’ll be received. A result may turn out to be anger, not a sale. Any male computer owner these days who doesn’t associate reading his morning e-mail with nagging concerns about erectile dysfunction has a better spam filter than I do. I resent being woken up this way each day. Oddly, however, the target of my resentment isn’t the folks who push Viagra and its numerous herbal substitutes, but the big online portals like AOL that let these hucksters’ e-mail through their systems. I hear that AOL is sagging now, and frankly I’m fine with it. I think it’s fitting. AOL has been letting me know for years that I may be sagging a bit myself. It’s their turn.

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