No Escape From The Pitch People

Any beach at sunrise offers the promise of peace and quiet. It's a promise often broken by crowds and kids and kitsch. On the New Jersey shore, reports CBS News Correspondent Richard Schlesinger, it's also broken by advertising.

On the beach in Seaside Heights, Patrick Dori has invented a machine that creates a beach blanket of advertising right in the sand. On a half-mile stretch of sand, he says he's created over 5,000 impressions of Skippy peanut butter jars.

The beach has become like a beachhead in the battle for consumer attention. Advertisers have carried their fight to new places in new ways that can be impossible to ignore.

In fact, there are so many ads in the environment that even the experts cannot agree on how many ads consumers are exposed to. They throw around a lot of numbers suggesting each of us sees and hears anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000 pitches every day.

"More and more advertising is completely invading our culture," says Barbara Lippert, who has been writing about advertising for 15 years. "We're so inured to advertising, it's so much wallpaper in our lives, we're so over-stimulated that advertisers have to find guerilla tactics to get us to sit up and pay attention."

At some cash machines, patrons waiting to get money see a pitch on how to spend money.

These days, any surface can be turned into an ad. In Atlanta, Robert Collier was happy to demonstrate his idea: a 3.2 million candlepower light gun that can make buildings into billboards.

All of the advertiser's weapons are trained on brand-conscious young people with a lot of disposable income. Traditional advertising doesn't work on them.

"You have to find someplace where it's quiet where the people are stopped and where they're attentive," says Eric Menzies, who believes he's found the one medium that commands almost undivided attention -- the public bathroom.

Chris and Anita Murray discovered that even their New York apartment could not be ad-free. They found themselves stuck under the Traveler's umbrella. The financial firm put it's red neon logo on its building near the Murrays.

"Everyday you look at it, it makes you think that someone has decided that our life is going to be dominated by a red umbrella as the image that we have in our eyes and in our brains every night," says Chris Murray.

The Murrays and hundreds of their neighbors fought Travelers to get the neon sign dimmed, so at least at home they can have the kind of commercial free peace and quiet we used to expect in the bathroom or at the beach.

Reported by Richard Schlesinger
©1998, CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved

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