On a lonely lonesome roadway east of Chisago City, a motorist plunks down a twenty inside Marathon Gas to top off the tank of his Chrysler 200.
Back at the pump with the wind tearing out of the northwest, he lifts on the nozzle and all of a sudden -- DING! -- the gas pump comes to life and starts yakking.
Chalk up one less place in America where you can be left alone.
The Marathon station on Highway 8 in Shafer is one of more than 60 locations in Minnesota where Gas Station TV (GSTV) strafes those at the pump with audio ads and streaming video content.
The frozen tundra is but one of 43 states making up the Detroit-based company's "# 1 video network at the pump" totaling 2,600 stations.
According to GSTV's vice president of marketing, Violeta Ivezaj, there's one other company in America doing business along the same lines as GSTV.
GSTV emerged as the industry juggernaut from the business brainchild seeking to capitalize "on a moment in time when [consumers] are bored and have nothing to do, and as we like to say, they're tied with an eight-foot hose to our screens," says Ivezaj.
GSTV started with a five-station pilot program in Dallas less than a decade ago.
Ivezaj declined to elaborate on some of the negative consumer feedback GSTV has received, only saying, "our customers have grown accustomed" to its lively gas pumps.
Perhaps she didn't speak to longtime local resident Keith Velaski.
"The marketing machine of our capitalist society will do anything and go anywhere to shove their goods in your face," says the 43-year-old father of four sons. "We can't even stand at a urinal anymore without being seduced into contemplating which golf resort to vacation next."
Velaski doesn't golf. After one run-in with GSTV's talking, flashing pumps at the Marathon station in Shafer, he no longer buys gas there, either.
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