Advert Overloaded Future

Leela: Didn't you have ads in the 20th century?
Fry: Well, sure, but not in our dreams. Only on TV and radio. And in magazines and movies and at ball games and on buses and milk cartons and T-shirts and written in the sky. But not in our dreams!
Futurama, "A Fishful of Dollars"

Something of a stock dystopia recently especially in cyberpunk, a popular depiction of a future where consumerism has gone mad shows a world where it is impossible to do anything - even eat, sleep or go to the bathroom - without being told by a chirpy computer telescreen that Soylent Soy is Crunchtastic, Brand X pillows are 20% More Awesome than your current one and unless you buy the Flushomatic 10000, there's a good chance you'll accidentally kill yourself.

The adverts can take the form of Blipverts, Sex Sells, Enforced Plugs, The Man Is Sticking It to the Man, Subliminal Advertising, Trope Co. Trope of the Week, May Contain Evil and the Ridiculously Loud Commercial. Often leads in-universe Repeating Ad, when the barrage of advertising overwhelms the population.


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  • Gorsky and Butch did it as a one-shot gag in a Star Trek parody - one of the crewmen comes from a race of Board, who can assimilate any surface into advertising space. Cut to the captain staring at his red and black fleet uniform now turned into Marlboro logo.
  • In Transmetropolitan, there are advertisements in your dreams. Not everyone's dreams, though, just people unfortunate enough to be watching TV when an advertisement bomb gets deployed on the audience and not quick or alert enough to shield themselves.

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  • Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space. In "Chapter IV: Village of the Spammed" Captain Proton drives down a highway in Southern California and is hit by advertising from airships, flying robots, holograms projected over the entire hemisphere, and a geostationary satellite needle-beaming a psycho-resonant add for Big Brother Insomniac right into his skull. Eventually the competing advertisements are pushed aside for a single advertisement for the BORG Megacorporation.

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  • WALL•E has this, to an extent. There are enormous television screens everywhere, which presumably are intended to share information with the people but generally are just covered with advertisements for Buy n Large and the Axiom space liner. On the former Buy n Large website, the company claims to have bought and licenced north. Compasses now point you towards "Buy n Large North". They call this Directional Advertising.
    • On the Axiom itself the advertising is even more omnipresent, including such gems as telling the red-suited denizens to "try blue, it's the new red and a brief glimpse into the ship's daycare.
    Robot teacher: "'A' is for Axiom, your home sweet home. 'B' is for Buy n Large, your very best friend."

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  • Almost all buildings in Blade Runner feature animated advertisements that show a geisha taking some pills and drinking Coca-Cola that play constantly. Blade Runner helped popularize this trope in the Cyberpunk Genre.
  • Idiocracy uses this trope heavily: in 2505 politicians are paid to fill their speeches with Product Placement, all clothing has corporate logos on it, and even names mostly consist of products (the president's middle name is "Mountain Dew").
  • In Minority Report, walking down the street has become a hyperstimulating nightmare, as talking holographic advertisements use retinal scans to sell directly to you. Constantly.
  • The film Branded is about a future where advertising is not only everywhere, but it controls people's minds as well.
  • May not be a perfect example, since Star Wars is set "a long time ago", but Attack of the Clones showed Coruscant lower levels overrun with advertisement. Star Wars: The Clone Wars portrays it similarly. The rest of the planet though, is either much better or much worse.
  • In Total Recall (1990) there are video screens showing adverts in a bus.
  • Josie and the Pussycats, in its parody of pop music and youth consumerism, takes place in an Advert Overloaded Present. Dujour's private jet is branded with the Target logo inside and out, while every inch of New York looks like Times Square.
  • The London of 2027 in Children of Men has moving digital billboards on buildings and the sides of buses, as well as flatscreens inside public transport and shops. Mostly they show government propaganda and adverts for various medications.
  • The future of The Zero Theorem is filled with adverts, including one for the Church of Batman the Redeemer, whose leader is played by the late Robin Williams in a cameo.
  • Large and loud animated billboards are all over the place in Repo! The Genetic Opera, and they're all pushing Gene Co. products, including the titular opera.

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  • The Ur-Example might be H. G. Wells's The Sleeper Awakes, written between 1898 and 1910, where the London of the 2100s is covered in advertising hoardings. Especially the churches.
  • This trope is a major focus of the Frederik Pohl classic humorous novels The Space Merchants, The Merchants' War and The Merchants of Venus. The first, in particular, featured advertisers competing to come up with new—and usually horrific—ways to promote their clients' goods.
  • Fritz Leiber's The Last Letter is this, where citizens are confronted with billboards, radio jingles, mail, and even phone calls which feature nothing but advertisements.
  • Ray Bradbury's The Murderer features a man futilely destroying the myriad loudspeakers, radios, TVs, etc., which endlessly broadcast commercials at the populace.
  • In Fahrenheit 451, Montag tries to read on the subway, but he's constantly distracted by a jingle for Denham's Dentifrice. He eventually screams at the radio to shut up, shocking the rest of the passengers who were singing along.
  • Feed is set in a world where people can have tiny computers implanted in their heads. Advertisments are then pumped directly into their brain.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Podkayne of Mars. While on Venus people are constantly barraged by ads. Podkayne and Gertie even have a hologram of a devil appear inside their taxi and try to get them to buy an addictive drink called Hi-Ho. The company that makes it pays the taxi company to force the ads on their captive customers, though the passengers can bribe the cabbie to at least lower the volume.
  • In the Lensman verse, among most sentient species it's considered slightly shameful (akin to losing a video game on Super Easy mode) to notice an advertisement. At one point Virgil Samms is in a "taxi" with a member of an alien race that has no eyes and relies instead on a sense that detects mass directly somehow. The driver is obligingly sharing this sense of perception with Samms (through Samms' Lens, which gives him a kind of telepathy), when Samms notices that there's a little nondescript mound by the side of the road that's opaque to this mass sense. He asks the driver about it, and the driver basically tells him "Oh, I didn't think you'd be interested" and focuses on it intentionally for a second, revealing that it translates to "Eat Teegmee's Food." The fact that the Rigellians ignore advertisements gives Samms hope that maybe they're more like humans than they appear to be.
  • In The Unidentified by Rae Mariz, Katey (aka "Kid") goes to a school that is run by corporations. They monitor the students' activities for market research.
  • In Richard K. Morgan's novel Altered Carbon the advertising in the slums uses such intrusive methods that the cabs have some sort of screening technology to filter them out and protect the passengers. When the main character asks for the filter to be lowered so he can get a feel for the area, he's bombarded with a seething mass of subliminal and semi-hypnotic advertising, mostly for narcotics and prostitutes.
  • In Snow Crash, neon advertising is so inescapable that they've coined a term ("loglo") for the everpresent reddish light around a city. Its sort-of-sequel The Diamond Age is a world where microtechnology has made advertising literally ubiquitous, and one character made his fortune by realizing you could advertise on chopsticks.
  • In the novelisation of Red Dwarf, the mission of the Nova 5 (the ship the crew eventually found Kryten on) was to write a Coca-Cola slogan in the sky by blowing up hundreds of stars into supernovas.
  • Most sophonts in the galactic community of Troy Rising have been fitted with implanted computer/communications technology. The newly-implanted (which for most species except humanity means children/adolescents) tend to rely on external AIs shielding them from/proxying local hypernet access until they learn how to use their implant's pop-up blockers, or risk sensory overload.
  • The Ray Russell short story "The Room" takes it to the degree of ads being printed on everything (clothes, money, toilet paper, between the lines of newspaper articles), along with always-on daytime television, Subliminal Advertising in bathroom mirrors, doorbells that play commercial jingles, and ads projected on room ceilings.
  • Fade to White, an Alternate History short story by Catherynne M. Valente is set in a post-World War III United States that deliberately maintains the facade of The Fabulous Fifties. The Department of Advertising and Information is the largest employer outside the military, bombarding the populace with adds for cosmetics to hide the effects of radiation poisoning, beer laced with hormone suppressants to discourage infertile men from mating with fertile women (reserved for the few fertile Husbands), vegetables designed to leech poisons from the soil, and caffeine-laced products to maintain everyone's Stepford Smiler approach to what's actually a Crapsack World that's slowly dying out.
  • The Charles Stross novel Halting State portrays Europe Twenty Minutes into the Future thusly, often tied into the fact that most people use their smartphones and augmented-reality glasses to interact with the world and each other, usually in the form of remarkbly well-tailored (and rather intrusive) targeted advertising referencing such things as workplace politics in their specific office. People using public transportation similarly have advertisements projected onto the windows for their viewing pleasure.
  • The titular city-planet Riesel in Riesel Tales: Two Hunters. Ads are everywhere, even in orbit, and advertise just about anything. Considering the planet's status as an immoral and crime-infested cesspool, the characters occasionally see things they wish they hadn't.
  • In the Bad Future chapter of Cloud Atlas, adverts are regularly projected onto the Moon - and it's been that way for at least a generation.
  • Every character in Jennifer Government is named for the company they currently work for.

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  • The second episode of Black Mirror, "15 Million Merits" depicts a future where every wall is covered in Kinect-powered flatscreen TVs playing a nonstop stream of adverts for talent shows, gameshows and porn. They can be skipped - but doing so costs the viewer money - and while an advert is playing the door to your flat locks itself. Looking away from the TV earns loud tones and a voice demanding that you RESUME VIEWING RESUME VIEWING RESUME VIEWING.
  • The David Firth segments in Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe show a future where the year 2008 (the segment was first aired in 2007) is bought by a marketing company which then forces everyone on the planet to end their conversations by linking arms and declaring "This conversation was brought to you by X".

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  • In the world of Shadowrun, advertising has long since moved off the physical plane and into the virtual. Unfortunately, since the vast majority of the population is wired into Augmented Reality, this means that about 90% of the world as they see it is bombarded with advertising. Companies that can afford spirit-binding magi can even send advertisements into the Astral Plane.
  • Downplayed trope in Transhuman Space. The cover of Toxic Memes shows a woman with various Augumented Reality "screens" hovering around her, about half of which seem to be advertising. However, the text of the books says most AR systems have pretty good adblock if you want it.

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  • In the Mega Corp.-dominated future of Strangereal, as depicted in Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere, company logos will be slapped onto everything, even the wings and tails of air superiority fighter jets.
  • The Tank weaponizes this in Monday Night Combat. His Product Grenade blares ads across enemies' vision and hearing for a few seconds.
  • Blade Runner, like the film, has adverts littering the ground level and skyline of the city.
  • In the 2013 SimCity game and expansion pack Cities of Tomorrow, many of the futurized buildings and mega-towers are loaded to some degree with holographic signs and billboards. Some of these billboards are actually describing the building's function (Such as "Sky Bridge Terminal" or "Maglev"), while others are just of the standard commercial and industrial variety. They even have signs with a panda on it for some reason...
  • The cityscapes of Starcraft II contain enormous flashing billboards for various products (Nuke Noodles comes to mind) and propaganda posters, some of which you get to kill.
  • EYE Divine Cybermancy's industrial and habitation zones are piled high with neon adverts and signs. One map includes a blimp flying over the city covered in advertisements for offworld colonies.
  • Elite: Dangerous features ads for various in-game ship makers, like Zorgon Peterson, Saud Kruger, and Gutamaya outside the "Mailbox" docking slot of most Space Stations and inside most hangar bays. The Federation also bombards its citizens relentlessly with advertising on a daily basis.

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  • Futurama uses and to some extent parodies the trope, as seen in the page quote. In the future, adverts can be beamed into people's dreams in the form of gamma radiation, effectively filling them with product placement.
  • In the The Simpsons episode "Holidays of Future Passed", it seems they have figured out how to make pop-up ads out of the stars themselves!