Beer, Intihuatana and Frustrations

"The Intihuatana stone was damaged in September 2000 when a 450 kg (1,000-pound) crane fell onto it, breaking off a piece of stone the size of a ballpoint pen. The crane was being used by a crew hired by J. Walter Thompson advertising agency to film an advertisement for a beer brand."

- Wikipedia

Here I was reading about this most iconic Incan symbol, the ruins of Machu Picchu, one of the new seven wonders of the world, and I learn that commercialism broke it. Just one more reason to believe that advertising and alcohol are a bad combination.

That’s only partly tongue and cheek. Admonished by childhood memories of alcoholism and Jean Kilbourne’s treatise on the dangers of beer in advertising, I do think they are a bad combination. I’m also a fan of old things. If you’re going to break something old, at least have a worthwhile story behind it. Co-opting the historic site to move refreshments off the shelf is not one of them. This goes in the same consternating category as, “Why did you let your two-year-old play with my bone china teacups?!”

If you were paying attention to goings on in the advertising world ten years ago, you would remember this beer/crane/Intihuatana story. I missed it. But I discovered it today because I may be heading to Peru next spring. After pages of drool-inducing photos and captivating stories, and a two-hour meeting with CCO wilderness colleagues about piloting this new adventure, I was sadly reminded of our quest to exploit the pristine.

Even as a Leave No Trace card-holder, I don’t stick to a no-touch policy. Give me a chance and I’ll clamber all over those ancient walls (carefully). But I won’t cheapen them. It’s an interesting human predicament: the most sacred and marvelous and amazing sights we treat like Monopoly properties. Buy ‘em up and profit. Like Niagara Falls, which is now Mall of America with an attractive water feature in the center.

I’d better stop. Without TV for most of this summer due to our move, I’m a bit more sensitized to media misbehavior. I appreciate many aspects of advertising and haven’t been frustrated with it in a while, but today set me back.

Photo taken from a travel site.


Every Square Inch September 12, 2010 at 7:19 PM  

Not much to say - but that's sad that something so timeless was negatively affected by trivial commercialism - the filming of a beer commercial.

Bradley J. Moore September 13, 2010 at 6:35 AM  

Sam, we've got to get you back on the couch! In front of the TV! With a beer! Okay, maybe not.
Advertising and bad behavior... Well, if there was no bad behavior, we'd have nothing to think about, would we?

Anonymous,  September 13, 2010 at 12:40 PM  

Out here in the West, most of our lakes and natural wonders are surrounded by national forest, so thankfully, we are pretty protected. I remember taking a trip to Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri and being amazed at all the billboards. that was just crazy to me.

Sam Van Eman September 14, 2010 at 10:36 AM  

Ha! Brad, thanks for the pep talk. I finally plugged in the tube on Sunday - just in time to catch the first Steeler game.

It's like air pollution, David, no?

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