Jewish World Review August 26, 2004 / 9 Elul, 5764

Felice Cohen

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Consumer Reports

Taking the ‘D Train’ — as in Disney | To get to work I take the subway from the CVS (96th Street) station and ride it downtown to Bloomingdale's (59th Street) where I usually buy a muffin and refill my Metro Card. Then I jump on the Google Shuttle and take it across town to the Disney (42nd Street) station where from there it's only a short walk.

As the MTA considers renaming subway stops for the highest bidder, this scenario could one day be real. But even if stops are renamed for companies, I say let the bidding begin. As it is you cannot go two stops on a train without your mouth watering for a Dunkin Donuts Coffee Coolata or seeing before and after faces of people who've had their acne cured. I particularly love reading the poems brought to us by the MTA.

We already stop at Times Square (42nd Street), named after The New York Times. So if riding the number 4 Train to Banana Republic (86th Street), then switching to the number 6 Train and riding it to White Castle (125th Street) makes us hungry for mini burgers or convinces us to buy a sweater, what's really the harm?

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Today, the average person sees 3,000 advertisements a day while the average mailbox receives 150 pieces of commercial advertising each month. Popcorn bags at the movies promote upcoming blockbusters, phone booths are plastered with promotions and the average Internet surfer "sees" 950 banner ads per day. What are a few more ads if they help defray the increase in the cost of riding the subway?

But with renamed subway stops, there would need to be regulations on the types of advertising — no intentionally manipulative ads pushing cigarettes or alcohol on kids. But on the positive side, I'm sure no one would complain if the Mosholu stop in the Bronx near the end of the 4 Train — recently ranked the worst of all stops — were now called "Home Depot," as long as the company paid for a much needed facelift.

A recent segment on "60 Minutes" featured "Undercover" or "stealth" marketing. Two college-aged people sat in a coffee shop playing with a new electronic gadget — a glove that maneuvers video game images on a laptop. Unassumingly, they invited people to try it on and play for themselves casually adding, "Hey, I'll email you some info on this if you want." They were not just two people showing off a new toy, but undercover marketers.

Whether ads are in our face or subtly hidden in disguise, we'll never get away from them. The other day I bought a banana from a fruit vendor. Eating it in my office I noticed a sticker on the yellow peel that read, "Weight Watchers, pick of the season." I told a co-worker who exclaimed, "That's nothing. Last week I bought a banana with a sticker on it that said, 'See Garfield the movie.'"

Isn't it worth being exposed to more subway ads if it means getting a better ride?

Comment on JWR contributor Felice Cohen's column by clicking here.


08/19/04: Time to rethink steroids at the Olympics?
07/20/04: An ideal birthday: One year older
07/12/04: Presents of the past
07/02/04: Chained or changed?
06/10/04: Waiting game
06/01/04: Sticks and stones
05/19/04: Psychic seekings: The gift
04/21/04: The latest job fad: China dolls for hire may be
04/16/04: Stories to be told
03/31/04: Shades of gray
03/23/04: Rejoice, ‘preppy’ is back
03/16/04: Taking a bad shot

© 2004, Felice Cohen