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Cyberpunk's Take on Advertising

cyberpunk night city screenshot
“The future is here, it's just not evenly distributed.”
- William Gibson

Cyberpunk's statement of a world where every breath is commodified couldn't be more vivid than in its description of advertisements, seeing them as an incessant holographic dominatrix, metaphorically beating one's will into submission from without and within. A word and phrase frequency count shows the most common words we use when writing about this:

Advertising (and variations), New, Street, Holo, City, Across, Entrance, Walked, Hand, Face, Commercial, Life, Neon.

Combining these, the algorithm writes the most exemplary sentence:
He walked across the street, holo-commercials advertising a new life at the neon city entrance.

Take a look at how 20 top cyberpunk authors treat this issue:

Behind the prostitutes, A.I. noted my interest in the flesh trade and flashed brothel advertisements, the ads becoming more carnal as I walked past, with lurid images of every conceivable option and position tempting me to visit the bordellos. I blinked five times in quick succession, turning off my optics and terminating AR, not wanting to be distracted.
Mark Harritt, Entropy Angels

Across town in the seediest part of neoSoho the unstable figure of Cleric20 stumbles through the gathering dusk, he is trailed by his floating droid companion GiX which looks somewhat like an oblong slab of distilled neon thanks to the multiple adverts and info screen commercials reflecting off its polished anti-assault armour.
Matt Adcock, Complete Darkness

Holo ads blinked to life around him. A twenty-story movie star raising a glass of J&B on the rocks.
--D. L. Young.
Cyberpunk City Book 1.

She glimpses a familiar shape, a hint of flowing robes that move against the current of the datastream that enfolds them, and tries to follow. But the crowding icons—balled advertising, jostling users, once a virtual pickpocket, groping for useful programs in other people’s toolkits—block her way... She bats the most persistent symbols idly away, feeling them break like bubbles against her hand: familiar advertising, most of them, some of them not, new names and faces, new services, strangers on the net. She drifts past, not bothering to make any reply, her own icon dimmed and ghostly in the midst of all that brilliance...
--Melissa Scott (The Master of Cyberprose), Trouble and her Friends

“HackAd,” Burn said. “They are illegal, but no one cares to stop them out here.”
“So, what? That thing hacks my implant and targets an ad?” Moss asked though he knew the answer.
“You got it. Lots of folks have neural implants of one sort or another, so this type of advertising is popular. People who live here say you eventually tune it out, but we’ll get you some blockware.”
--Matthew A. Goodwin,
Into Neon

City ads
Advertising holos flashed overhead: Suzy Vacuum, said one...The most beautiful boy Rebel had ever seen floated over the single word Angelus.
--Michael Swanwick, Vacuum Flowers

The city’s circulatory system is capital, credit, and speculation. Culture is the liver that filters its dissenters. A kamikaze ad for reduced interest rates shoots across the sky like a meteor, hitting the ground and exploding as its shrapnel logos expel across vHUD. Severum dives out of the way, hitting the street. Laughter all around. Lying face down following the virtual bombardment, he reaches into his pocket and smashes the glass holding a giant firefly. Cutting his hand, he wrings the life out of the bug as the sticky goo swamps him. His bloody hand withdraws with a sucking sound and rubs his chin, another mustard seed of skepticism implanting itself. The laughing stops.

--Mark Everglade, Hemispheres

The entrance looked just like any other street, if maybe a little wider. It also had neon lights flooding out into the city, a multitude of garish signs advertising a multitude of sins. A guard stood on either side of the entrance. Both were cybernetically enhanced freaks who’d been built to tear heads from torsos when they ran out of other options.
--Michael Robertson, The Blind Spot

Real signage, not digital. From the right angles, Love Hotel was dwarfed by the mega-skyscrapers that surrounded it. The place wasn't old, though, far from it. Holo-ads boasted of the luxuries he'd experience staying there as he stepped off the bus. Prostitutes, synthetic sex slaves that had Dynamo and his Waifu’s likenesses, gambling, anything. All free from scrutiny, a space for hedonists who didn't want to risk a TOS violation. If you could dream it up, Love Hotel had your vice. At least, that's what the advertising said.

--Eric Malikyte, Ego Trip

Sandy and Jacob walked down the aisle to the flower shop when the sound of an African tribal beat looped and layered in a driving post-house mix playing from a small speaker at the entrance to a shop caught Sandy’s attention. “I want to stop here,” Sandy said. “We need some new music at the club. Something different.”
--Marlin Seigman, Code Flicker

Harold Miller nodded sagely—Dremmler scowled as he acknowledged the name floating above the barman’s head, then wrenched the spex from his face. The bartender’s T-shirt advertised a band called The Fall, who Dremmler had never heard of; over the top of that he wore a leather vest that looked like a jacket with the sleeves crudely hacked off, bedecked in badges referencing other obscure musical acts.
--Jon Richter, Auxiliary: London 2039

He saw adverts for new limb augmentations, the latest Markson’s hovercar, investment opportunities in the waste fields and Arcology-143’s new VR attraction. Crowned at the pyramid’s peak was the largest mega-board, where across its screen scrolled the city’s sponsor – Sovereign Systems.
--C. Beams, Revenge in the Sprawl

Personalised adverts appeared on street screens as individuals walked by, their chips betraying their identity and credit ratings. AI security observed and tracked everyone via sensors and cameras, which although inconspicuous in their location were known by all to be watching.
--Tanweer Dar, The Man With No Name

He drained almost all his savings to guarantee his anonymity and dropped another handsome sum to drive as much online traffic to the site as possible by search engine optimizing and advertising it extensively on external websites, social media pages and news feeds in a short-timed marketing blitz. The website’s name was simple, intense and effective: Datapocalypse Now!
--Christopher Keast, Datapocalypse

If advertisers were smarter, they would buy up the airspace of all the commercial spots for an hour and have a show going that was better than the programming running parallel with it, place all the advertisements subtly in the show-as-commercial, then eventually create an all new channel and move the show-as-commercial there, suck away all the other channel’s viewers.

--Dr. Joseph Hurtgen, Tower Defender

It was a dangerous place for those who weren’t themselves, also dangerous. His biochip told him a sizeable crowd coalesced there most nights, regardless. The entrance was not advertised, but the crowd congregating at the end of a street ahead betrayed its secrecy.

--Elias J. Hurst, Europa

Men wore business suits, the type that he’d only seen on holo-screens and displays whenever he would venture to one of the outliers for trading.
--Nicholas Catron, Redemption & Revenge

Xan made his decision in a split second, firing the MagNETO (Magnetic and Neato!  Choose MagNEATO!) harpoon from his arm to connect with an overpass his Occulux calculated was high enough that the gforce wouldn’t kill him.
--Benjamin Fisher-Merritt, Upcoming Publication

The sunset’s pay-to-play. You wanna see it, you pay the fee. Silica adjusts the calibration of her vHUD, or virtual head’s up display, but it’s no use. The cover of the new Deep Vein Thrombosis album blots out the sun in augmented reality, plays the same tired guitar riff through her aural implants. Only purchasing the album will remove the ad and let the evening’s glory play upon her face.
Mark Everglade, Upcoming Publication

Most of these (billboards) were targeted at businessmen...supporting casinos and bordellos...the messages pursuing them like starving wolves.
Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age