Daily Archives: March 7, 2007

Annoyances at the Gas Pump

There are only 3 gas stations within 5 miles of my house. One of them is a Shell station which is usually the 2nd highest priced of the three but is often the most convenient.
The transaction cost ($, time and mental) is a bit higher at the Shell station because for a number of years their pumps have had a little video screen typically showing some TV news broadcast. The audio comes on as soon as the pump is activated. I am always prepared to push the mute button to keep the pollution level down.
Apparently not enough folks have done the mute thing because Shell is expanding the concept:

Pumps at about a dozen Shell stations in the Bay Area have been equipped with video screens and speakers that feature three-minute blasts of promos from TV network NBC and ads for a variety of corporate sponsors.
By the end of the month, at least 75 Shell stations in the region will have this capability, according to FuelCast Media Network, the Los Angeles venture behind the trend. Over ensuing months, as many as 200 local Shell stations will feature at-the-pump programming.
And that’s just the beginning. FuelCast says it’s in talks with other leading oil companies to install screens and speakers at their stations as well.

According to the linked article the new installations in the Bay Area do not provide a mute opportunity:

There was no way I could turn down the volume of the broadcast, much less opt out from being exposed to come-ons from a major TV network and its advertisers.
When my tank was full, the broadcast ended and a voice thanked me for picking Shell. It was, all in all, a fairly intrusive experience.

The marketeers love the captive audience but they clearly do not have a high opinion of us or respect for our privacy:

“There’s not much else to do while you’re filling your tank,” said Gary LePon, executive vice president of FuelCast. “This gives you something to do while you’re waiting.

“Whether it’s an ad at a urinal or on an elevator, you want to get people when they can’t turn away,” Porter said.

Not much else to do? How about, well, something as basic as thinking? Or, meditative breathing. Just a bit of time without external noise clamping down your brain!
Screens and ads at urinals and in elevators? Elevator music is bad enough. Expansion of this kind of crap may well warrant an ongoing monkey wrenching campaign.

The really bad news about all this is that 80% of the the market research subjects say they like this stuff….
Are they afraid of a bit of quiet?