OK, this is not the most important topic in the universe, however these ads are annoying and I think they point to another way in which our culture is being ground into a mediocre dust of half-baked theories an opinions. Is that a mixed metaphor or what?
Here is the letter I finally wrote to HSBC on their huge corporate site (so it will probably be ignored).
“I have to say how much I dislike your ads which I see each time I board or disembark from a plane at Pearson airport in Toronto. You have these photos with “good/bad”, “interesting/boring” posted underneath. So broccoli could be “tasty” or “awful” etc. I guess the ads are supposed to show how opinion is arbitrary. I’m not sure what this has to do with banking and I’ve been subjected to these terrible ads for over a year. I object to them because they give semiotics a bad name, “Semiotics” is the science of analyzing signs and you are working with the whole signifier/signified dichotomy introduced by Saussure many years ago. However, you cheapen the practice of semiotics by reducing all meaning to simple binary oppositions. And I still don’t know what this has to do with banking or even what your name is. So I think the ads are pretty much a “fail”.”
Most people have never heard of semiotics, so the fact it could be “cheapened” may come as a surprise. In fact, it would be entirely predictable that someone has done a semiotic analysis of how the HSBC ads have used semiotics in such an infantile manner.
I guess I don’t care so much about semiotics per se, which can take care of itself by its replication inside the academic system. I mainly care that I am annoyed each time I board and depart a plane. And that with all these ads I’ve seen, I still cannot remember the bank’s initials or why I should care about them. Classic fail!