I am cranky. I just spent my Saturday at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. It wasn’t a good time.

This is what the world looks like in the global economy. You’re assaulted by corporate logos everywhere you look; even the aquarium’s mascot is a bright-orange Nemo rip-off named–get this–”Deepo.”

Deepo? As in Home Depot, perhaps? Why yes, the Atlanta-based Home Depot, known for its orange logo, does happen to be a major sponsor of the new facility. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

In fact, much of Atlanta is one giant sales pitch. The wonderful MARTA, which transported us with ease and comfort from Buckhead to downtown, is filled with advertisements: television screens inside the cars blare ads, while at the station you are greeted with LED displays, billboards and floor mats hawking everything from new DVD releases to eyecare.

I don’t mean to pick on Atlanta, which is a lovely city in many respects. I’ve traveled enough New York subways to know that Atlanta isn’t the first city to view transit riders as a captive audience. That doesn’t mean I have to like it.

I’m sick of being marketed to. I’m tired of being viewed as a giant, throbbing wallet of cash everywhere I go by some “big brother”-like force that wants to know everything about me so it can separate me from my savings. It’s the ultimate dehumanizing experience for the consumer age. We haven’t been names in a long time, now the only number we represent is what’s in our bank accounts. And now they want our kids.

Seeing corporate logos so shamelessly displayed at a family destination like the Georgia Aquarium appalled me. These weren’t small “brought to you by” plaques; in many cases the corporate sponsor’s name was more prominent than that of the attraction.

This is wrong for a lot of reasons. Museums, zoos and aquariums are not entertainment venues, they are educational opportunities. They serve a community function, and with that should come a civic responsibility to not treat impressionable young kids like market sectors.

Three years ago the American Psychological Assn. called for stricter regulations protecting children from advertising. I really don’t see the difference between a TV ad for Lucky Charms featuring a cute leprechaun and Home Depot’s Deepo the orange fish.

Look, I’m glad that corporate America is supporting a worthwhile effort like the Georgia Aquarium, and they deserve to be acknowledged for this contribution to the betterment of society. But do they have to turn these good works into a screaming sales pitch that’s rammed down our throats at every turn? Did UPS really need to advertise how it transports animal exhibits to the aquarium in a multi-panel advertise—oops, I mean educational display as I left the beluga whale exhibit? If this is what brown can do for me, I don’t want it.

We’re all just little fish here, but it’s high time we stood up to this big fish and told it to quit pushing us around.


Filed under advertising, consumerism, Georgia Aquarium

5 responses to “Corporaquarium

  1. >Corporate Hall of ShameHey keedo. Something I think you’d appreciate, and it seems to be right up your alley today. And aren’t the observations in this lede brilliant?In 1942, the Liebmann Brewing Company of New York initiated an annual campaign, asking the drinkers of its major product, Rheingold Beer, to choose that year’s Miss Rheingold. Momentum built slowly, but by 1959, 22 million votes were cast, making it the second-biggest election in the United States. It differed from presidential elections of the time because there were no race-based poll taxes and nobody whatsoever was disenfranchised. Of course it was similar to many big-city elections in that you could vote as often as you wanted.Arthur Blank’s grandiosity already killed a whale at the Aquarium (he suffered acute respiratory problems, and I’m not kidding, they named him Gasper. The Home Depot Falcons employ a quarterback that trains pit bullls for fighting. And he’s the financial archangel of the Citadel.According to Tom Keane, in Saturdays Boston Globe,Finally, in sad news, the Rev. Jerry Falwell died at age 73. Although doctors attributed his death to cardiac arrest, God disagreed, saying that He had killed the fundamentalist preacher. “For years, Jerry has been blaming me for everything from AIDS to the 9/11 terrorists attacks, saying it was some sort of divine retribution,” the Deity said. “Quite frankly, I’d had enough.”Speaking of the Globe, why doesn’t everybody that bitches about the NYT and WaPo just read the Globe instead. I know it’s not a self-appointed ‘paper of record’ but it employs uncompromised reporters that generally write rings around other papers.What‘s coming to your computer (well not your Mac) June 15? I don’t like this at all. Doesn’t Microsoft have enough unintended bonehead security and privacy problems without a built-in corporate incentive to to add a few intentionally?Ya ta hey

  2. >Ya ta hey MJ! Where on earth did you find that Miss Rheingold stuff? 22 million votes? After the way this season sucked ass, “American Idol” will kill for those ratings.Yeah, the Globe is a good paper, and I’m sure plenty of people do read it instead of the NYT, but the reason people bitch about the whole NYT thing is because the “Gray Lady” is supposed to be the “dean” of American journalism.Thanks for visiting my blog, MJ. I was wondering who “april glaspie” was! You made me look! I always learn so much from you. Ironically, my sister was a Mills College grad, too.

  3. >deepo is no coincidence. it is indeed named for home depot, and intentionally orange.have a fish stick.

  4. >The only way to fight the big corporations is to buy American made products whenever possible & buy from locally owned small businesses. A good starting point for the former is, and for the latter, avoid the malls…

  5. >The only way to fight the big corporations is to buy American made products whenever possible & buy from locally owned small businesses.Ohmygawd, this from the guy who sold Mexican-manufactured items to Wal-Mart? Okie dokie, dear.