The March 29 issue of Advertising Age has a feature on the history of advertising. One article is a reprint of a 1977 essay by Isaac Asimov, forecasting “what the advertising future would be like in 2000”. It’s impressive how accurate a lot of his ideas are. It’s also amusing how many sci-fi writings from the 60s and 70s mention microfilm as the media of the future. I remember reading old articles in library school and laughing at that. Asimov’s predictions focus on the personalization of media consumption and advertising, which has obviously become reality. The odd thing is that he describes it as if consumers would voluntarily subscribe to certain types of ads, instead of ads being targeted at consumers based on company-created consumer profiles. Excerpt:
Ad Specialties Inc. is, for instance, widely recognized among the advertising community representatives as being the wave of the future. It produces coded ads much as a library produces a coded catalog.
Its philosophy is that people who view ads as intrusions on their newspaper or on their TV programs do so because most of the time they have no interest in the product being advertised. If they were looking upon, or reading, an ad dealing with something that they very much want at that time, it would be the news or the program that would be viewed as the intrusion.
It is now possible, therefore, for subscribers to Ad Specialties Inc. to inspect an elaborate catalog of product listings (“from plasma lights to plastic leads,” one of its own ads says) and then code their TV sets for the reception of ads dealing with some particular type of product. They can inspect the various ads for that product, facsimile those they choose to, and be prepared for further inquiries.
Then the grandiose but equally prescient suggestion that advertising and marketing tactics can play a part in political and social change:
We must sell the world, through the persuasion techniques developed by advertology, on the necessity of reducing population, of conserving and recycling the Earth’s resources, of exploiting space to supplement Earth’s energy supply. Most of all, humanity must be sold on the necessity of employing its aggressive impulses not against itself, but in battling ignorance and folly and in extending the frontiers of knowledge and wisdom.
And in that manner, we may all be saved.
He also talks about holograms. ❤ Asimov ❤
(image from positivepsychologynews.com)