Why is advertising OK in some places but not in others?

One of the interesting/annoying things about advertising is that it seeks to go to where the people are.

That may sound obvious, but there appear to be strange rules to this.

Places where you get lots of people looking and can chuck ads at them ceaselessly include:


The Internet




Places where you get lots of people looking but have to adhere to guidelines:

Cinema/DVDs (don’t interrupt the movies unless it’s in a way that we might not notice, eg: product placement)

Billboards (not too many please; they might spoil the lovely view of Marylebone Road)

Sports pitches/shirts

Places where you get lots of people looking but no ads:

Books (you do get a few ads in the back, such as chocolate ads in chick-lit etc, but otherwise this is a big no-no. Why?)

Phone (OK, people are listening rather than looking, but you could have an ad instead of a dial tone and lose nothing. Maybe get a few quid off the phone bill)

Public service things (Why have Barclays logos on the bikes but not Nike swooshes on Police uniforms, Boots logos on hospital bedsheets or Jeffrey Archer novels ads on public toilets?).

Ads seem to be there to offset the costs of things. Everywhere (legal) that you see an ad, someone is making some cash, so why can some surfaces take an ad without us getting fucked off? Sports pitches are an odd one because you’d think those massive logos would get in the way, both of our enjoyment of the games and the markings of the pitch. Then books often have plenty of spare pages at the back which could take ads but no one uses them to reduce the cover price by 50p. Why ads inside buses but not inside aeroplanes?

It seems that we have all made up a bunch of rules without actually talking to each other about it.

I guess that’s why this all appears to be so random.