GateHouse — I can’t be sure how much time my reader(s) spend in the state of Indiana — except my mom, who I’m pretty positive spends most of her time there, and if not I need to get some birthday cards forwarded immediately — but here’s one thing about Indiana: It is not especially difficult, when in Indiana, to be aware of your nearby fast-food options. (It is also not difficult to locate people who command an astonishing supply of Manning family facts and students currently furious with Lady Gaga, but those are both for other times).
Certainly, Indiana is hardly alone in this regard. We do a good bit of road-tripping in my family, thanks to the deeply rewarding feeling we get by paying for gasoline, and as I’m sure you have noticed, there are vast sweeps of American interstate that branch off into exits of inveterate sameness, exits that exist seemingly to explore the countless land-planning combinations that can be made using only fast-food providers, jerky superstores and Cracker Barrels. I have driven — and I’m sure you have driven — upon thousands and thousands of federal roadway just off of which, using solely the context clues provided by local eateries, you would have hopeless little clue about where you are currently super-sizing something (with the notable exception of a Burger King in Spartanburg, S.C., which has been forever scorched into my brain due to the extraordinary inability of its waitstaff to successfully furnish to me a Regular Coffee With A Couple Of Little Creamer Packets, which is a story I’m saving for an eventual book series, as I could expend probably six chapters discussing how I passed the time waiting in vain for someone to smoke out a stirrer).
That said, today I’m writing about Indiana for two reasons:
- I know about 30 people in Indiana who get instantly indignant when I make jokes about my home state, such as gags about the time that the bulk of the capital’s populace rose up in seething, pitchforks-and-slogans revolution when the Colts pulled their starters in the 3rd quarter one time, and how, depending where you are standing, the state smells either like the scorched earth of the steel mills or John Mellencamp’s hair. Sometimes both.
- Indiana was paid recently — entirely true, this is — by poultry oligarchy Kentucky Fried Chicken to promote its new quote-fingers “fiery” chicken wings by emblazoning the capital city’s hydrants and fire extinguishers with KFC stickers and stuff.
Of course Indiana, like all of America, is currently suffering a grave advertising shortage, which is why experts believe that this sort of clever approach to marketing, and by “clever” I mean “in a way that speeds the death of your soul,” will be the norm in the future, when advertising will have to be delivered in a manner that will command the easily distracted attention of a public flying around in bubble cars while eating nutritious pastes from blue tubes.
Listen, I understand that even in today’s cluttered, disappointingly nonfuturistic world you have to find new ways of delivering messages — in this case, if you’re Kentucky Fried Chicken, the newsworthy disclosure that you sell chicken. And I, as but one sad, patronizing member of the soon-to-be-expired “print media,” can’t expect to be able to walk down the street staring a bunch of ad-free sewer grates and manhole covers (if it gets bad enough, I figure, I can just cross the road). Besides, from the sounds of things, if Indiana can get cash for any sort of civic improvement project whatsoever, we should all just shut up and give silent, desperate thanks that it’s coming from someone, be he human or poultry.
Yet I find myself stuck on this quote from Laura Ries, president of Atlanta-area marketing consulting form Ries and Ries, who said this about the unorthodox approach: “People ignore advertising, they try to get away from it whenever possible. So hitting them in unusual and unlikely places, at least initially, is likely to get some attention.” Yes! So please continue to give us more of what we thirst to ignore, and be quick about it too. This goes for you as well, Gaga.