18 June, 2017

The Limits of Advertising

I got to meet a celebrity this past weekend, which was exciting. But what's sad is how easily I could have missed this rare opportunity, if not for pure happenstance. Consider this: I'm a horror fan. And not just a casual horror fan. The kind that has reviewed hundreds of horror films for a personal blog dedicated (mostly) to horror. Furthermore, I'm a dedicated fan of The Walking Dead (both TV and comic). And while it would be cool to meet, e.g., Andrew Lincoln, or Norman Reedus, or what have you, I'd cherish more the opportunity to meet an actor who plays one of my favorite, if less popular, characters. At the top of that list would be Madison Lintz - who played Sophia and featured in one of my favorite and most heartbreaking scenes from the early seasons of the show - whom I have, in fact, met - a few years ago. But next in line would be Addy Miller, who, despite only featuring in a single scene, is the sort who, you might say, makes an impression. She was the first walker any of us ever saw, in the show's beginning minutes, even before the opening credits rolled in the pilot episode (setting the unflinching mood of the series). She was the "teddy bear girl" in pajamas, shuffling around in her bunny slippers, that Rick meets at the gas station. You can buy Halloween costumes modeled after her.

For kids and adults!

What I'm saying, basically, is that I'm exactly the sort of person you'd want to target in any kind of marketing strategy for an event featuring a celebrity appearance by Addy Miller, as I would jump on that opportunity without hesitation (as demonstrated this weekend). Yet I found out about it purely by accident, on the off chance that I happened to be visiting the mall one week prior to the event, and saw the sign for it before it was too late. Can you imagine my disappointment if I had learned after the fact that, beyond my wildest dreams, Addy Miller had been right in my metaphorical backyard (and trust me, this is the middle of nowhere - nobody comes here), and I had missed out on meeting her?

I'm sure that the people running this event were hoping for a good turnout (participation yields profit, which also ensures that things like this can happen again in the future), and were trying to reach out to as many people as possible who might have been interested in coming. But it just goes to show the limitations of advertising, that a person like me - your ideal mark - could have so easily slipped through the cracks, if I hadn't happened to decide to visit the mall that day. (Otherwise, I would have been out of town on the day of the event). I'm guessing that the event coordinators were counting on random passersby in the mall to notice the sign and decide to drop by, because "why not, it might be fun!" Meanwhile, I'm the sort who'd be planning ahead and looking forward to it, and I might not have even known it was happening!

Is there a more efficient solution to the problem of targeting advertisements to the people who are most likely to respond to them? I don't know. Granted, I'm pretty socially isolated - I don't hear a lot of word of mouth buzz, and I'm not tied in to a lot of networking services, either; so maybe it's my own damn fault. Surely it would have helped if I'd been following the mall's Facebook page. But I don't care to check Facebook every day. And what about all the fluff I'd have to sift through? I mean, I could be following Addy Miller's schedule of appearances (if she has such a thing), but out of the, I don't know, hundreds of appearances she makes in any given time frame, how few would even be relevant to me? For all I know, there's only been the one hit in the last seven years since she was on the show!

Besides, how would I have even known that this was something I wanted to look for? Out of all the possible things I could be interested in, great and small? While it's an opportunity I wouldn't have missed, it's not something I was prepared to, for example, drive to the New York Comic Con for. I feel like you'd need some kind of a smart service that knows my interests and where I live, to cater to me personally. Which is kind of the way advertising is going these days, what with sites saving your browsing history and such. Like, the fact that I just spent an hour googling Addy Miller should clue my personalized ad-crawling bot in to the fact that I might be interested when she's scheduled to show up at a mall within a ten mile radius of where I live, that I visit semi-regularly. Ya know?

I know, doomsayers like to cite this as an example of how we're all being spied on for nefarious purposes; but while the possibility that this data could be abused is very real, I don't think most major corporations are necessarily doing it for those reasons, and there are potential advantages to be had. I mean, I'm not unconcerned that with the right motivation, the government could probably put a pretty damning profile together on just about anyone, based on a selective interpretation of their browsing habits. Given a choice, I'd rather have privacy than convenience (because no matter how closely a government agent scrutinizes your life under a microscope, he's not going to get the full, human picture). But it's worth looking at both sides of the coin. Naivety and malice are not equivalent, even if they do end up accomplishing the same objective sometimes.

Oh well, I guess I can just count this as an example of the happenstance in life, and how serendipitous it can be to find yourself in the right place at the right time.

Oh, and maybe how it's totally worth it to get out of the house sometimes, too. ^_^;