Sunday, July 11, 2010

No "wogo"

Apparently the average American sees approximately 5000 advertisements a day - that's a lot of persuasiveness. Now, this isn't necessarily your old-school 30 second TV or radio clip. No, this includes all sorts of advertising, including that orange and white B you probably didn't even notice at the top of this page. Yes, that one. The one that lets you know that this blog is sponsored by Blogger. Thanks B.

You and I may be able to navigate our way through these 5000 ads and not have meltdowns. We may be able to live our daily lives, somewhat normally. Ok, with the odd craving for McDonald's or Subway and not be sure where the craving came from, but otherwise, we're probably pretty good with it all. We're used to the huge yellow, glowing Ms that greet us on the freeway and at the shopping malls. The little man on the horse on a polo shirt really doesn't mean that much, except that maybe the 3 year old shouldn't be playing in the muck in it. But that's through our eyes. What about through the eyes of the 3 year old? How does he navigate in this media saturated world?

There's not enough space here to fully address the issue, but it is one that over time I'd like to give more thought to. For now, let's have a talk about logos. But first, a minor detour.

I remember in a grade six english class my teacher asked us to write to alien telling him how to tie a shoe lace. An everyday occurrence at the time (Yes, this was before the advent of velcro straps on shoes). You know, that was one of the hardest exercises I had ever come across at my ripe age of 11. I pity the alien that came across my essay. One thing is for sure, he'd never have tied up those shoe laces. The point is, it is very difficult to explain something that you take for granted to someone that has no knowledge or understanding of what it is you are trying to explain.

Keep that little detour in mind when I tell you about how I tried to talk to my three old, Little Mr. Man, about logos. It went as well as the alien shoe lace story.

You see, LMM is really excited about recognizing letters and numbers in the world that surrounds him. And sure, who wouldn't be. Up until now, when he goes out the world has been a collection of odd shapes and colours but none of it really made much sense. But now that he understands the idea of letters and words, he's beginning to think that instead of mere shapes the world is filled with stories. Stories because he associates letters and words with stories.

Anyhow, on the way home from the grocery store today he was asking me about a particular logo (which one, I can't even remember!) and so I started to explain to him that what he saw was a logo. For starters, logo is very hard for a 3 year old to say. "L"s are a difficult consonant to master and it usually still comes out as a "W". I begin to explain to him that "wogos" are a company's face. When he goes to school his teachers and friends recognize him because of his face. His face is a big part of his identity. His face is is "wogo". Are you still with me???

I continue, saying that company X doesn't have a face so they had an identity created for them. So whenever you are out and you see X "wogo" you know that it belongs to company X.

I'm pretty sure I've lost you by now, but if not there's not much more left as I know I'd lost LMM by this point (if not before the conversation even started....all I could hear from the back was him repeating me every time I said "logo", but of course all I heard was "wogo").

Being stubborn though, I soldiered on, trying to explain that companies want us to remember their logos so that we remember their identities. They want us to like them. Just like he wants the teachers and kids at school to like him.

By this point, he's tired of saying "wogo" and was on to talking about how beautiful the sky was. A much better conversation to be having and a much better thing to be focussing your attention on when looking at the world around you. I just hope that he continues to keep his eyes on the important things!

I quickly conclude my discussion with LMM saying that of course logos are really for bigger kids but that you're never too young to start learning about them.

I have no idea what he grasped from this conversation, except for that he learned a new word, "wogo". I really don't expect him to truly understand the media landscape that he lives in, but I do hope that by starting early, I will be able to provide him the tools necessary to navigate his way through the 5000+ ads he will be bombarded with and still be able to enjoy the beautiful sky.

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