Wolf Files: All the World's an Ad

New Frontiers for Advertising, From Pizza Crusts to Derrieres

By Buck Wolf

As Shakespeare would have said, if he only had TiVo, "All the world's an ad, and all the men and women are trying to sell you the latest, greatest, cut-rate long-distance service."

After public outcry last week, Major League Baseball backed away from a $3.6 million deal to emblazon Spider-Man 2 logos on the bases in ball parks throughout the country.

My spider senses tell me, however, that it's only a matter of time before we've plastered ads over every inch of every sports arena in America. Barry Bonds won't just step up to home plate. He'll step up to the Home Depot home plate, "where All-Stars score big savings."

These days, advertisers are playing ball with everyone, and there's no such thing as foul territory. They're slapping ads on treadmills at the gym, on airplane food trays, at the bottom of public swimming pools, and any place else they can reach media-hardened consumers.

You can't turn to the police, who have squad cars festooned with fast-food ads in more than two dozen cities.

Volunteer firetrucks in South Carolina can now advertise honest-to-goodness fire sales, thanks to a ruling last by the state's ethics panel. Even ambulances might be turned into rolling billboards in parts of Indiana.

You can't even expect a moment of peace in the bathroom, since Madison Avenue's best and brightest have turned to writing on the walls of public restrooms.

Lets take a look at how contemporary advertising reaches out and touches us when we're least expecting it. Heady Stunts: If you can't get a job using your head, you could get one using your forehead. Cunning Stunts — a British media company — rents advertising space on young adults, typically college students. It's a $7-an-hour-gig.