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I received a marketing email with the subject line: “Congrats: The Anna Foldover Crossbody Clutch In Signature Canvas With Kaffe Fassett Print is ALMOST Yours!” 

I didn’t know whether to laugh or scream. 

Here’s the story of how I got here: For months I’ve wanted a black leather purse big enough to fit my phone, my wallet, my keys and nothing else. I have been hauling tote bags full of baby crap for way too long. 

In time, this particular store’s “sale” popped up when I had money to burn. At checkout I opted out of receiving promotional emails, which is a complete waste of energy because we all know those emails are coming one way or another. 

The day I made the purchase, I received three promotional emails about other bags I had looked at while shopping. 

The next day I received four emails, and then five the day after that. 

I typically unsubscribe from all promotions at the end of each month, but receiving twelve emails in 48 hours was more than I could take. That’s when I noticed the subject line I mentioned earlier. 

Y’all. This store had the audacity to congratulate me for almost giving them my money! I’m laughing and crying at the same time. 

The Signaling is Relentless

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Billions of dollars are spent annually researching how to get you to spend money. The effects of sound, color, pace and exclusion are constant, subtle and sinister. If you’ve ever said something like, “Babe, we’re out of Huggies!” instead of “Babe, we’re out of diapers!” then the marketing is working. Constantly. 

Tell me, do you buy “Ziplock bags,” or storage bags? Are you out of “Cheerios,” or are you out of cereal? Are you craving “Chick Fil A,” or is the thing you want a chicken sandwich?

Here’s the secret: the advertising does not stop once you buy the product! Far from it. In fact, it then becomes an established part of your household. A reminder that you weighed the competition and picked this brand. Congrats

To see what I mean, do a quick scan of your kitchen. How much advertising do you see? I’ll go first. 

**All brand names have been changed to protect the innocent. 

In front of the sink is a bright blue bottle of Brawn dish soap. It promises to be tough on grease and gentle on skin. Good choice, Chi! To the right is my matching set of Frigidbear appliances. So stainless. So steel. Excellent purchases. 

Off to the pantry! Should I start my day with some bright and cheerful Happios? The smiling cartoon wasp says it’ll do my heart some good… But the very serious man on my canister of Pilgrim Oats says I should choose him if I want to build a house with my bare hands by nightfall! 

Ah, it’s too early for decisions, so I’ll settle for this calming blue box of Checks cereal. Now to the fridge (hello again, Frigidbear) to pull out my off-label, HED branded Almondmilk, reinforcing the idea that I am an equal opportunity almond consumer. Way to stick it to the man, Chi! 

You see where I’m going with this? The signaling is relentless… but there’s hope!

Here are some free things you can do to minimize post-purchase advertising at home.

  • When shopping in stores, ask for a printed receipt or no receipt only. An emailed receipt is an opt-in to the store’s marketing list. 
  • After shopping online, open the first promotional email you receive and unsubscribe right away. I promise you’re not going to miss any “great deals.”
  • Buy your groceries from the bulk section, or visit a farmer’s market. No packaging coming home means no advertising in the house. 
  • Use an adblocker when online. Your browsing patterns are still being recorded, but the resulting tailored ads won’t show up in your feeds. 
  • Get in the habit of muting your listening devices from time to time. The simple truth? They’re listening to sell

Tell me if you try any of the above and how it changes things for you.

As always, have fun! 


Hi, I'm Chioma Ikoku, a spirited explorer and a peace-loving homebody. I founded Casa Diem Life to help you combine the excitement of travel with the comfort of home, because I believe that adventure begins at home.

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