Gambling ads have been in the news recently, what with an exciting new proposal to ban them because they’re pure fucking evil.
“Gambling advertising and simulated gambling through video games is grooming children and young people to gamble and encourages riskier behaviour,” she said. “The torrent of advertising is inescapable. It is manipulating an impressionable and vulnerable audience to gamble online.”
So what did the advertising experts at the newly returned Gruen have to say about all this back in 2021?
Well, there’s a lot about how amazingly effective gambling ads are, a bit about how gambling works to get you addicted, and one line about how… hell, let’s go to the screenshots:
Protecting people! Yes!
Ohh, so close.
To be fair to these bloodless shills for an industry that is a malignant cancerous growth on society, they skate right up to the idea that there should be restrictions on gambling advertising, and then rapidly swerve back onto how gambling itself is a bad thing but you know, you’ve got to admire how they know how to really focus on the bad and bring that out and purify it until it’s utterly toxic… gambling that is, not advertising.
So you know, apart from the vibe of watching one group of war criminals admiring the activities of another group of war criminals, good job Gruen! You almost – but not quite – admitted advertising is making a serious social ill even worse.
(never fear, there’s next to no real threat of gambling ads being banned all together – as that article helpfully points out, “The federal government, which is not required to implement the committee’s recommendations, is expected to face significant pressure from the country’s biggest sporting codes and media companies not to adopt them.”)
There’s a lot to dislike about Gruen and we’ve gone on about it a lot over the years. Even just on the level of entertainment, it’s dull and lazy, full of hacky jokes from Wil Anderson – what’s that Wil? You smoke dope? Who knew! – and weirdly skewed segments that claim to be tackling the big issues through the lens of advertising but constantly seem to skirt any of the angles that might unsettle the vested interests seated around the table.
The flaw at the heart of the series from day one has been a massive one. It’s a show about advertising that’s only interested in showcasing the views of insiders. Advertising doesn’t exist solely in the coke-addled boardrooms and HR nightmare offices of advertising agencies: it goes out into the world and fucks up the lives of regular people. Good luck finding them on Gruen.
Every time one of the generic smugsters around the desk talks about the effectiveness of this ad or the impact of that ad, there should be a half dozen people behind them pointing out that advertising is when they hit mute on their televisions*, or start texting, or do literally anything else because advertising is a boring pointless intrusion on our lives at best and outright theft of our most valuable commodity – our time – at worse.
Ads are shit, and so is Gruen.
*at a guess, the real reason why nobody on Gruen is going to say “ban gambling ads” – aside from the sheer insanity of expecting a bunch of advertising executives to ever suggest there should be even the tiniest of limitations on their boundless reach – is because gambling ads are pretty much the only thing propping up large expanses of free-to-air television. For some bizarre reason, Gruen is a show lazer-focused on television ads despite the fact that nobody under 50 seems to still be watching television with any kind of regularity… unless it’s sport. Remind us again: who advertises during sport?