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Selling every last space 

Time for another trip into the far, far, far-out frontiers of Free Enterprise. Today, Spaceship Hightower takes you into the ever-expanding universe of product advertising, featuring places no advertiser has gone before.

Already it's estimated that the typical American is hit with 3,000 advertising images a day -- through the media, as you would expect, but also inside our schools, in the public parks, on supermarket floors, up in the sky, down on the beach ... even on little stick-ums stuck to our fruit. ABC/Disney, for example, recently put stickers hyping its TV network on 15 million bananas.

Ad agencies regard any vacant space at all as a wasted opportunity to promote a hemorrhoid cream, an SUV or the latest local television news sparklie.

I have recently learned of two previously unadorned spaces that now add to the national clutter of ads. First is the humble, plastic bag that drapes your dry cleaning. No longer is it merely a protective cover. Now it's ADBAG! It gets plastered with a promo for cosmetics or whatever. USA Today reports that 10,000 cleaners are now part of the International Cleaning Advertising Network.

Second is that plastic stick you use at the supermarket checkout counter to separate your groceries from those of the person in front of you. It's a plain, utilitarian stick that does its job without calling attention to itself. Until now. Now it's called ADSTICK! And Disney Inc. recently bought 7,500 of them to promote one of its movies in 300 California grocery stores.

Is there no limit? No.

A big-time ad executive recently bragged about the fact that "as long as the consumer accepts the intrusion of advertising, there is no limit as to where it will go."

It won't be long before your church altar is adorned with a flashing neon sign hustling St. Joseph's aspirin.

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