One of the basic fundamentals of advertising is to associate your product with some kind of feel-good situation. You drink a certain type of beer, and suddenly doe-eyed women slink up to your side and ravish you– or so the commercials suggest.
These days, however, in the rush to cover every bit of free space with advertisements, certain fundamentals are being overlooked. Take, for example, barf bags. Sure, they sit all lonely and unloved in your seatback pocket every time you fly, but a recent announcement by US Airways that the airline will begin selling advertising space on said bags really makes me wonder.
What kind of company would want their product associated with airsickness and heaving? The last image I see before losing my ill-prepared airline food into a paper bag is not going to be the first thing I rush off to buy when the plane lands. And what happens when I come across the product on a store shelf a few days later? Will my mind subconsciously associate it with turbulence and experience a gastro flashback in Aisle 9? And how will companies measure and pay for such advertisements: on a cost-per-heave basis?
My favorite quote from the USA Today article covering this story: “Barf bags have a lot of shelf life – people aren’t barfing as much in planes as they used to.” I’m sorry, but “shelf life”, “barf”, and “planes” should never be uttered in the same sentence.