Here’s something to try: spend the next day actually noticing every ad that features a photo of someone looking at you. Magazine ads, bus station posters, billboards: all these. Now think about what kind of situation you’d have to be in for this person to be looking at you like that in real life.
If where you live is anything like where I live, you’ll find that for a very high number of these, the situation would have to be one of:
- They want to have sex with you
- You just told them the funniest joke in the world ever
- You just told them the funniest joke in the world ever and now they want to have sex with you
This is an entertaining exercise not just because it’s amusing to think about Kate Moss wanting your body, but also because it reminds you how far the arms race between advertising agencies and your brain’s perceptual filters has advanced. The more ads there are, and the more they try to get our attention, the better we get at not noticing them, so marketers have to continually up the ante. Apparently we’re now in a state where most ads are full of people looking at us in a way that would heat us up down to our toes if it happened in real life, and we don’t think anything of it.