Opinion: Advertising has become the focal point of too many outdoor articlesWhy we buy the things we do — fishing tackle, hunting equipment, camping gear, clothing — is a fascinating subject. Is it something we do impulsively once we’re in the store, or did advertising persuade us? It might be word of mouth or the advice of a friend.
By: Roger Wiltz, The Daily Republic
Why we buy the things we do — fishing tackle, hunting equipment, camping gear, clothing — is a fascinating subject. Is it something we do impulsively once we’re in the store, or did advertising persuade us? It might be word of mouth or the advice of a friend.
When on the road, I’ll listen to public radio given the opportunity. The gist of a recent program was that advertising is in the midst of a revolution. The industry no longer centers on Madison Avenue, magazines are no longer the medium of choice and television’s part is undergoing radical change.
The industry now focuses on those of us who spend time glued to our computer screen. Bloggers are recommending products in exchange for goods if not money, and these bloggers believe that they have formed a trusted relationship with their readers.
The so-called “Mommy Blogger,” a mother of many children, was interviewed. She sells everything from baby food to strollers, and sees her readers as personal friends. Perhaps one must be a bit naïve to believe that these bloggers always tell the truth. I didn’t know it, but the Facebook people are involved in this marketing blogger scheme.
The subject got me to thinking about my own little world and my column. Though I’m not a blogger, I’ll admit that a rifle from Remington or an ATV from Honda would be a nice little perk. From time to time, I’ll recommend what I believe is an outstanding product or outfitter. I generally follow the endorsement with a statement that I have no business arrangement for personal gain. I’m telling the truth, and I’ve never doubted that readers believe me. Realistically, my column is too small circulation-wise to interest possible marketers.
The radio program also made me think about the purchases I’ve made in the last year, and what prompted me to make them. I’ll readily admit that the advertising flyers sent out by Cabela’s, combined with merchandise card incentives, have worked well on me. Now that I realize this, I’ll have to be careful about their effect on my buying habits and limit myself to the things I really need.
We recently bought a Ford Explorer. The fact that Ford has survived while General Motors and Chrysler went under was a major influence. I’ve also read that Ford and Toyota lead the industry in workmanship. Is this true? The radio program host mentioned that false advertising can get a company in big trouble. That was news to me. I always thought it was a matter of let the buyer beware.
It appears to me that outdoor recreation products depend heavily on television advertising and stations like The Outdoor Channel. Outdoor magazines are a big factor, and they irritate me to the point of not renewing subscriptions as virtually every feature relates to advertising.
If I were to write a hunting story for an outdoor magazine, I would have to include information about the outfitter, the make and model of my rifle, scope, binoculars, spotting scope, range finder, knife, scent products, calls, boots, outer wear and even my underwear! That’s not all! I must include the ATV even if I didn’t use one, not to mention the laundry product I used to wash my clothing. Wouldn’t you get sick of that in a hurry?
There is an apparent distinction between fact and opinion, and apparently one doesn’t get into hot water for opinion. Field & Stream magazine calls its rifle editor, David E. Petzal, “an expert, one of the biggest names in the outdoors.” In the August 2009 edition, Petzal renders the following opinion in “Crystal Clear,” a feature article that I’ll quote.
“Are your $200 binocs good enough? No. Cheap binoculars are worse than no binoculars,” the article states.
Mr. Petzal, I think you’re wrong, but like the rest of us, you too have a job to do.
Most of us cannot afford the binoculars you recommend at a cost from $1,400 to $3,000. If I were on a hunt for grizzlies or sheep in the mountains of British Columbia, and if I had to spend hours at a time glassing distant slopes for game, my eyes would tire quickly with my cheap $200 binoculars. However, if I were hunting for deer or antelope, and I wanted to see if a distant animal was a shooter or not, my $200 binoculars would work just fine. The main purpose of Petzal’s writing is selling expensive optics, not entertaining readers. It is too bad that most outdoor writing has come to this.
I don’t believe that I’ve purchased any of the outdoor gear I’ve seen on TV or read about in a magazine because of the advertizing. A computer screen certainly had no effect. If a gun shop, tackle shop, Cabela’s, Bass Pro or Gander Mountain is close by, I’ll go in because I enjoy the atmosphere. If a particular item is in the back of my mind, and the store just happens to have one in stock, a pending sale is now in the hands of the sales person.
All of us can run these points through our mind. We’re all different, and the way we react will vary. I hope you found today’s rambling to be thought provoking. Duck hunters have a good thing going this year. Next week I’ll tell you about the greatest duck hunting lesson of my life.