Cargo Cult Advertising

Josh Millard turned a little idea into a flier which turned into a meme. Deservedly so, don't you think? Other people are now putting them up in far-flung places. Link -via Metafilter

Update:
Josh has started a blog to document these useless fliers.

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> Cargo cults built dummy items trying to entice planes to land or drop cargo on their islands. So it wasn't pointless on their part...

The central notion of the cargo cult is not just that they do what they do with the intention of attracting planes, but that in the process they fundamentally misunderstand the function of the things they are building. They grasp only the superficial form, and make a mistake in causality.

And so I like the idea of some addled ur-designer somehow grasping the form but not the function of your traditional tear-off flier and creating this as an attempt to capture the imagined or perceived dynamic of flier-based advertising: if you put up a piece of paper with writing and tear-off tabs, the Good Thing will happen.

But for all that, "cargo cult advertising" was just an offhand description for the idea of how a flier like this might have come into being naturally, as a joke when the idea first occurred to me. Certainly it's not actual cargo cult phenomenology on my part given that I knew the thing was absurd when I made it, nor do I expect most people who encounter it to mistake it as an earnest attempt to achieve some sort of transactional effect.
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Why is it called cargo cult advertising? Cargo cults built dummy items trying to entice planes to land or drop cargo on their islands. So it wasn't pointless on their part... I just don't see the similarities.
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