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"Ad Space Now Available on Jim Morrison's Tombstone!":
6 Sacred Places that Still Need to be Ruined by Advertising

My father, God rest his soul especially after the news you'll read below, was a philatelist.

(Don't confuse that with the term for the wealthy who donate money to certain charities or those who sleep with many women - that term is "Hugh Hefner." This term, philatelist, simply means one who collects stamps.)

Brian VaszilyAbout
Brian Vaszily

Brian Vaszily (pronounced "vay zlee") is a bestselling author, positive change advocate, speaker/organizer and sometimes funny guy whose life mission is to help others explore, experience and enjoy life more intensely while bypassing the traps that would hamper that goal -- particularly unscrupulous marketing and rampant consumerism.

Brian is the founder of, has authored several books including the acclaimed novella Beyond Stone and Steel (see for some reviews), and with over fourteen years of marketing management experience is President of the TopMarketingPro consultancy.

In addition to his How We Get You columns here at SixWise, Brian also leads the popular blog, "The 'Live Deeper' Blog by Brian Vaszily." He has appeared on many TV and radio shows and been quoted in many publications regarding his books, columns, articles and ideas. Brian Vaszily was born and raised in Chicago, growing up on the northwest side in the blue-collar Portage-Cragin neighborhood. Brian and his wife and two children currently reside outside Chicago, Illinois.

He had albums full of postage stamps from the U.S., Europe and beyond dating back to the prehistoric ages or close and bearing famous architecture, historic documents, flags, and famous people such as authors, royalty, and politicians that no one remembered even when they were living.

He'd be mighty upset to learn, therefore, that he passed away just a decade-and-a-half before he could have added the most "interesting" stamps of all to his collection: genuine U.S. postage stamps bearing the likes of Jared from Subway, bottles of Mountain Dew, and even the local personal injury attorney in those cheap TV commercials.

(I am actually being sarcastic in his honor, as he enjoyed being sarcastic … truth is my father would cringe at the following news as much as you should.)

That's because the U.S. Postal Service just announced that they will start allowing commercial advertising on first-class mail stamps. Companies will pay about 10 cents more per stamp to have their logos or branded images on the stamp.

So instead of the U.S. flag you can now watch for the Wal-Mart smiley-face logo on your mail. In place of Abe Lincoln get ready for the lovely forced grins of your region's most prominent, annoying car dealers. Thrilled?

They Did It to Enrich Your Life (Well, and to Make Some Money Too)

Advertising has been illegal on U.S. postage stamps since the 19th century, but this year Congress overturned the law.

"We want to make mail more interesting to consumers," explained USPS spokeswoman Joanne Veto.

To Veto's point, our lives will now be richer as we'll await each day's mail delivery with nervous excitement, wondering what advertising the first-class mail's cancelled stamps holds in store. Just as we look forward to each day's load of junk mail, SPAM in our inboxes, and telemarketing calls during dinner.

But the other reason the United States Post Office pushed this through is to reduce the loss of income as consumers have turned to email and the Internet and away from "snail mail." There were nearly 55 billion pieces of first-class mail in 1998, but there were just over 43 billion last year.

So desecrating stamps with advertising is their answer to recover costs. I would also suggest holding bake sales and offering hot pizza at the post offices, but I don't work there.

6 Sacred Places that Still Need to be Ruined by Advertising

To fill my time while eagerly awaiting my first piece of U.S. mail bearing a stamp of Jared from Subway, I decided to ponder and publish six sacred and noble places that still remain to be desecrated by advertising. If any irresponsible marketer takes this seriously and actually pursues commercial promotions in these places, I wish you the best with the real estate investment you made in Hell:

1) The Natural Wonders of the World

Hello, anybody home Coca Cola Company? Niagra Falls may seem like just a couple of big long sheets of over-flowing water, but think "massive water canvas that millions of eyes behold every year." Now think of beaming a gargantuan ad onto that canvas for Dasani purified water: "Dasani: Let It Flow."

That's just a start, of course. Put on your unethical but clever marketer thinking cap and just imagine what you could do with the Grand Canyon, Old Faithful, the 4,184 mile billboard they call the Nile, and the mother of all blank advertising slates, Mount Everest!

intrusive advertising

Not-so-sacred spaces work too. There is plenty of space available on famous gangster Al Capone's tombstone in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Chicago. He was brought to justice by tax evasion charges, so an ad by H&R Block might be ideal.

Whatever you can think of, it'll come soon enough, I'm sure.

2) Famous Tombstones

Though we are living shorter lives than ever in the important sense, the duration of our lives is longer than ever - so like the United States Post Office, cemeteries must be losing money. Why not go the easy, unethical route like so many other businesses and sell advertising on old famous tombstones? The families of the deceased could even be cut in on with royalties if they initially protest.

A mutual fund giant would certainly shell out big bucks to run a promotion on Karl Marx's tomb at London's Highgate Cemetery. A Fruit Loops cereal ad featuring Toucan Sam atop artist John James Audubon's gravestone in Trinity Cemetery in Manhattan seems a natural fit. And how could Jim Beam or Jack Daniels resist an ad on one of the world's most visited tombstones, The Doors' lead singer Jim Morrison's at Cimetière du Père-Lachaise in Paris? At lower rates of course, even ad space on the tombstones of the unknowns surrounding the famous ones could be sold.

3) The Sky

I know about the Goodyear blimp, sky-writing, aerial advertising banner towing and all that, but come on, this is the 21st century! Surely the technology exists with lasers or biotech to plaster that big blue (or white, depending on the day) billboard in the sky with advertising. It'll make the sky more interesting to consumers, to borrow the idea of USPS spokeswoman Joanne Veto.

And as far as I know, it's a steal to advertise up there because there is no one to rent the space from (double-check, though -- Monsanto may hold patents for air molecules.)

Check Out Brian Vaszily's Previous "How We Get You" Columns …

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You won't believe the shocking answer in this world-wide exclusive by SixWise columnist and pretend-Grammy Award winner Brian Vaszily.

Rebate Scams: How I Deceive the Heck Out of You with Consumer Rebates
Rebate scams, including how common product rebates deceive consumers, and the four most despicable retail scams of all the seven ways to prevent them.

How Stores are Secretly Using Barry Manilow to Rob You
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Check Out All of Vaszily's Columns

4) Babies

Women make 85% of all consumer buying decisions. Women really, really like to look at babies. Women typically become highly emotional, even emotionally vulnerable, when they look at babies. Irresponsible but highly successful marketing preys on strong emotions and emotional vulnerability.

Conclusion: Babies are the perfect advertising vehicles! And I don't just mean their clothes and blankets. I mean Gerber logos on those tiny hands, Enfamil logos on those squeezable cheeks, and Penzoil logos on those button noses (men look at babies too.)

5) Church Altars

All that wasted space at the front of the church! And talk about your captive audience! It's perfect for the lowest of the low in the marketing world to advertise on, and the pharmaceutical companies and corporate food/agricultural giants have mega-billion dollar marketing budgets to boot. Now if only the needy churches would start thinking like the United States Post Office…

6) Baseball Stadiums

Oh wait. Never mind. Too late. From their names to their billboards and backstops to the walls inside the bathroom stalls, baseball stadiums have already been completely prostituted out to advertisers.

As a baseball fan, this sad fact was one of the more nostalgic motivators that prompted me -- as a previous contributor to irresponsible marketing that is destroying people's lives -- to become a far more conscientious marketer and to start exposing why you are really stressed out, overweight, depressed or angry through this column. Just as my father the philatelist would have done in his own way if he were alive in response to the "interesting" news that even U.S. postage stamps are being prostituted out to whoever can afford to advertise on them.

And so goes the sacred and the noble.

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