<body> Public Ad Campaign: CUNY's CAAW Highlights Growing Public Sentiments
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Thursday, October 7, 2010

CUNY's CAAW Highlights Growing Public Sentiments

In the past few years, not only has the amount of unauthorized artistic production over outdoor advertising increased, but I have watched a steady rise in the public's general awareness about excessive advertising grow dramatically. Now it seems even the City University of New York is getting on board, integrating an excerpt from Kalle Lasn's "Hype" into its Aligned Assessment of Writing, standardized test. The incendiary reading passage meant to prompt a written response highlights the growing sentiment against our overburdened commercial advertising culture.

View the full CAAW handbook [Here]

The CUNY Aligned Assessment of Writing (CAAW) is a standardized writing assessment instrument designed to elicit direct writing samples from entering students for purposes of placement into freshman composition courses, ESL, and developmental courses. In addition, the CAAW is used to determine exit from developmental writing courses and readiness for college-level writing and discipline content courses.

Begin by reading the passage below. Hype

Advertisements are the most prevalent and toxic of the mental pollutants. From the moment your alarm sounds in the morning to the wee hours of late‐night TV, commercial pollution floods your brain at the rate of about three thousand marketing messages per day. Every day an estimated 12 billion display ads, 3 million radio commercials, and more than 200,000 TV commercials are dumped into North America’s collective unconscious. The increase in commercial advertising has happened so steadily and relentlessly that we haven’t quite woken up to the absurdity of it all. No longer are ads confined to the usual places: buses, billboards, stadiums. Anywhere your eyes can possibly come to rest is now a place that, in corporate America’s view, can and ought to be filled with a logo or product message.

You fill your car with gas, and there’s an ad on the nozzle. You wait for your bank machine to spit out money and an ad scrolls by in the little window. You drive through the countryside and the view of the wheat fields is broken at intervals by enormous billboards. Your kids watch Pepsi and Snickers ads in the classroom. A company called VideoCarte installs interactive screens on supermarket carts so that you can see ads while you shop. (A company executive calls the little monitors “the most powerful micromarketing medium available today.”) There is nowhere to run. No one is exempt and no one will be spared. In the silent moments of my life, I often used to hear Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony play in my head. Now I hear that kid singing the Oscar Meyer wiener song.

Excerpted from Kalle Lasn. “Hype,” Signs of Life in the USA: Readings on Popular Culture for Writers, 4th ed. (Sonia Maasik & Jack Solomon, eds.) Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003. 217‐220.

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