People don't watch adverts -
May 27, 2002 9:53 PM   Subscribe

People don't watch adverts - or at least they try not to. I tend to flip, or press the mute button. Given this research, plus the fact that certain stations think it's our duty to watch .. do you think they'll find another way to slip them in when we're not expecting it ?. (previous discussion about tv commercials)
posted by mrben (45 comments total)
I have to admit my day job is animating tv commercials, it's one of the few paying areas for animators out there. I'm not especially proud of the fact.
posted by mrben at 9:54 PM on May 27, 2002

And the advertisers aren't happy! (nyt link)
posted by gramcracker at 9:57 PM on May 27, 2002

Pop-up commercials anyone?
I am sure there is a bookstore somewhere near here...
posted by John Smallberries at 10:08 PM on May 27, 2002

a friend of mine says that if you want to be invisible, just dress up as a banner ad!

to this study, i'd have to say: "duh".

i generally hit mute and then talk to friends or leave the room. it's fully automatic at this point. part of the reason i've gotten into this habit is that commercials are:

) loud and obnoxious
) insulting to my intelligence
) attempt to create moronic "brand allegiances"
) full of lies and distortions
) devoid of any kind of useful information
) an indication that a company's products are overpriced
) a waste my time

but that's just the tip of the iceberg! for myself, i have to say that a good part of the reason that i watch so little TV, and that i am increasingly dropping out of "pop culture", is that i'm so totally disgusted with the people who put these ads on in the first place. these companies are horrible monstrosities. so horrible that they really make me wonder if capitalism is survivable... they want to create legions of unthinking consumers who will burn resources at an unsustainable rate. they want to interrupt us anytime anywhere as if our time had no real value and then keep us on hold indefinitely when their products fail. they want to bombard us and insult us with badly targeted advertising. they want to corner markets and jack prices up beyond all reason. and they couldn't care less who or what gets hurt... simultaneously, these same companies undermine our governments, threaten the stability of the world and have the gall to demand greater rights than any citizen with, OF COURSE, none of the responsibilities!!

i'll just hit mute until the revolution comes.
posted by muppetboy at 11:05 PM on May 27, 2002

You keep saying that these companies WANT to do this and they WANT to do that, do you really think they get together and say "Alright people, how can Burger King as a company threaten the stability of the world? A 50% pay rise to the first employee who comes up with a solution!" Do you have any idea how paranoid you sound? And anyway, if they do want create a legion of consumers who will burn resources at an unsustainable rate (I don't remember seeing it on the memo, but whatever) don't you have to take responsibilty as a consumer for buying that product?

I mean, they only advertise it, nobody forces you to get into your car, drive down to the shop and buy it. The way I see it the only way you absolve yourself of responsibilty is if you're not a consumer. If you live on a farm and are totally self sustainable, good for you. If not, you don't have a leg to stand on and you're part of the problem. In fact you're worse because you consume all of these products yet retain the right to criticize while thinking that you're above it all. Switching the channel over doesn't absolve you of anything. Don't complain about it unless you're prepared to change it. Gah.
posted by Jubey at 11:42 PM on May 27, 2002

The advertisers have to get more inventive. As ashamed as I am to say it, I look forward to seeing some commercials ( those old commercials come to mind). They just have to make commercials that are as interesting and quirky as the programs they interrupt.
Most commercials are just stupid, ie McDonalds (Holy Shit, they have fries now? Lets go!) and Snuggle ( Fabric Softeners actually make fabrics softer? Wow!!).

It's either that or products get sponsorship through the actual shows themselves (ie the Letterman commercial-break free show with Pearl Jam a few years ago).
posted by ttrendel at 12:45 AM on May 28, 2002

I watch commercials with great gusto! I even listen to them on the radio. I have no television during the week, and as I'm given a brief glance into the world every weekend, I sop up everything like a friggen sponge. I find that watching commercials makes me more "aware," if that makes any sense? Besides the fact that I could list the schedule of when highly-advertised shows will air during the upcoming week, commercials somehow keeps me in touch with reality. Yeah, okay, I can watch the Osborne’s reruns all damn day, and though intended to possibly convey it as such, that's not actually a reality I comprehend, or at least identify with. I can tell you, however, that the ads for the everyday crap of my life hit me where I feel it and make me stand up for more. Moreover, I find commercials stimulating on a meta-level in that I find the analysis of what compels people to perform an action (buy a good, sign up for a service) quite interesting. I don't give a crap (no pun) about Preparation H, but by God, I am interested as hell as to how they come up with messages intended to create a response.

Though I have the ability to listen to radio every damn day, my listening to radio ads stems from a break from the technological world I've surrounded myself, and like above, an interest in the methods of communication. An avid music fan, sometimes I go days with only my makeshift MP3 server popping out tune after tune. During these extended-play MP3 binges, I find myself getting all nervous and cabin feverish, and I realize it's because I've had no contact with the events and issues being discussed on the radio... E.g., who is coming to town, what minor emergencies are popping up around the 'hood, who is saying what, etc. When I was working the horrific 9-5 job, I had NPR riding shotgun on my way to work, but now that I run my own shtick, I'm often doing other things during All Things Considered (damn, i miss me some Melissa Block).

So in a roundabout way, I like commercials. I have moments where I would most certainly do without, of course, but I'm intrigued by them and sometimes find solace in the reality to which many of them allude, sandwiched between Jack's pissy moods, and Kelly's new hair color.
posted by Hankins at 12:52 AM on May 28, 2002

Most of the problem with American TV is the sheer amount of commercials. It's not surprising people are desperate to escape the ads when they take up so much viewing time. Even when American shows are on a commercial network in the UK, there are only about half as many ad breaks. As an example, Star Trek Voyager is on BBC 2 tonight from 6.45 to 7:30. I would guess that takes an hour to watch in America. In other words, 25% of the time is commercials.

Maybe there needs to be a law restricting the number of commercials networks can show. It works in other countries, like the UK. It would mean less money being available for programme making, but other countries seem to survive on smaller budgets.

I'm a channel flipper myself. It seems to annoy other people who are watching TV with me. Personally, I'd rather watch almost anything instead of adverts. It's quite easy to time things so you flip back just as your programme is restarting.

Why this study should come as a surprise to anyone is the biggest surprise. Previously, advertisers had no idea how much their adverts were being watched on TV or read in newspapers. They could only judge in terms of how successful an ad campaign was by increase in product shifted. The web changed that, with the banner ad. I could never understand why anybody would ever have thought I would want to click on a banner ad. All of the time I have clicked on a banner ad, without fail, was by mistake when I was trying to bring the browser window back to focus.
posted by salmacis at 12:52 AM on May 28, 2002

I think the advertising juggernaut recognizes the viewing consumer does this, blanks/drowns out commercials. But it is the exposure, the saturation that really matters. Loglo, if you will. The continual barrage of logos, trademarks, font styles, color combinations, slogans and jingles are what really matter most, not the content of the commercial. We already know what the *content* of the commercial fundamentally is anyhow-- separating the consumer from his/her money with the implied perception one receives value.

I can think myself for instance, of times on a road trip when confronted with the choice of corn/potato chips at a gas station, I normally would spring for the frito lay in well, FUD, about the local brands that were also present. Logo and trademark awareness is the key to this. Not that we actually pay any attention to the ads per se. Brand recognition leads to doubt about the competition. When one has the ability to peddle tampons under the well financed Tampax or OB banner why would any woman insert anything less? Hence the whole idea that the roll-your-own-tampon thing is grassroots and all. What the fuck did any of us do to survive before the advent of mass media? We obviously wallowed around confused and ignorant before a brilliant corporation was able to fill those not so fresh needs and then monthly, procure rent from every friggin' woman in the "civilized" world.

For corporations it's called Creating a Market. Very rarely is it neccessary. It's only neccessary insofar as they can create the illusion that life without their product is well, less than a life worth living. Cosmetics, fast food, soda-pop, cigarettes, hot happenin' Abercrombie and Fitch fashions, once a day vitamins, concert ready car stereos. Look at the amount of shrimp or prawns one can find in their local supermarket these days. And cheap. You don't think that comes without a cost? We lap it up. Prawns used to cost some buxxx. Not anymore. They've become the new chicken of the sea and most every other less than delectable species that thrived in the waters where these prawns are farmed and harvested is suffering.

No word on the commercial media outlets about that though yet. Therefore we shouldn't be too concerned. Nor should we be concerned until they tell us there's a Tide with Bleach shortage. See? I don't even watch TV, but for christ's sake, Brand recognition works. Imagine the influence if one doesn't think about it.
posted by crasspastor at 12:55 AM on May 28, 2002

I'm a copywriter. You have no idea how difficult it is to get an interesting, watchable commercial on air. It's not that the people who come up with these ads aren't capable of better, they're rarely allowed the opportunity for the great ads to air. You get hired for your so called brilliant, creative folio and then put to work producing crap because the client is scared of putting anything remotely controversial or funny/unpolitically correct/whatever for fear of scaring away consumers. Hands are tied people.

That's why most of the ads that you see on Worlds Funniest Ads are actually scam ads, or ads that were made up specifically to win the creative an award, probably the client was coerced and told that they would make the ad for free as long as they could put his name on it to make it legitimate for the awards category. That's the lengths that people will go to to get a decent ad out there. Advertising people are the ones most offended by bad ads because we know it could be done better if they'd just let us. Then it wouldn't be a chore to watch.
posted by Jubey at 1:02 AM on May 28, 2002

copy ... writer ? .. it's a joke right ? .. very clever

I do agree though. Often (and i'm sure this is true of every vaguely creative occupation) .. you're hired for your showreel and talent .. and then the client will sit behind you and dictate the entire job to you. (I've had clients watch explosions frame by frame and ask for more smoke on frame 75 and two more particles rotating 56degs to be added !)

This creates a situation where it's rarely worthwhile trying to push the style and content of the ad into something interesting .. it's easier just to shut up and do as you're told.

god that makes me sound pathetic !.
posted by mrben at 2:24 AM on May 28, 2002

Sports fans have probably noticed that they already are finding ways to slip them into the broadcast in between commercial breaks. Watch the score card holder in any event and you'll see that increasingly, little pop-up ads will attach themselves to the score holder for a period of time. In the NHL playoffs currently on, these pop-ups obscure part of the ice. It's only a small part, but it's still annoying. I expect to see more and more of this
posted by Tempus67 at 4:07 AM on May 28, 2002

???s}?this is a good thread to recommend Jerry Mander's Four Arguments For The Elimination Of Television.

Frankly, I think consumerism is very bad for our future. We'll have less, not more, of everything, so I think advertising is bad. But, hey, I also think capitalism is bad and civilization will eat itself...
posted by samelborp at 5:54 AM on May 28, 2002

See, Jubey, you advertising types can't just state your message once. You feel you have to say it OVER and OVER again for it to sink in!
posted by skylar at 5:57 AM on May 28, 2002

I don't watch television commercials -- the TV has been broken since December and we're not in a hurry to replace it -- but I am pounced on by a fair number of online advertisements. To keep them out of my head, I keep the PC sound turned off unless I'm specifically listening to something, and I never look directly at ads: when an ad pops up or pops under or scrolls down or whatever, I fix my eyes on the upper right corner and close the ad window before I have a chance to accidentally absorb the message. And I have never clicked an ad. Does anyone click them? What sort of person tries to punch the monkey?
posted by pracowity at 6:21 AM on May 28, 2002

Advertising is as human as breathing and will never go away. In fact, we're so supersaturated with the branding meme that people actually purchase clothing because of the logo on it. I just can't get over that. Like peacocks - stupid, vicious beasts with remarkable plumage. The signifier signifies only itself, "Pepsi pepsi pepsi" shouted into the infinite void......

But then, I probably wouldn't have known that Coke adds life if they hadn't told me so.

Buy (or grow) local produce. Eschew shopping as a leisure activity. Don't believe everything you read, and nothing that you see. Don't shop at Wal-Mart. Vote your dollars. And sit on the couch swilling Dr. Pepper and eating Fritos while watching Skinemax every now and again just to remind yourself of the seductiveness of the American Way.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:52 AM on May 28, 2002

I hate ads as much as the next culturejammer, but it's preposterous to suggest that one is able to truly resist the onslaught. The ole' "ads don't work on me" thing strikes me as terribly naive. Not to pick on you, pracowity, but you claim that your eyes zoom past ads (as indeed, I hope mine do), and simultaneously demonstrate evidence that this is not the case ("punch the monkey"). Although advertisers aren't doing as well as they might assume, they are winning.
posted by Marquis at 7:21 AM on May 28, 2002

There are a few channels here in Boston that show pop-up ads during TV shows and movies. I am sure this will become more and more commonplace and will eventually invade the big network broadcasts. Also, I am surprised there isn't more product placement in TV series, especially for really big companies like Nabisco that have all kinds of home product lines.
posted by plaino at 7:44 AM on May 28, 2002

The real issue is that, as they did with banner ads on the net, someone, someday, is going to suggest that they're not worth what is being charged and the market will collapse. It happened easily on the web not because banners are so lame, but because the companies who were shilling them weren't as entrenched. They couldn't spin the story as well as TV has been able to do over the years - the myth of the value of banners was never established. That doesn't mean for a second, however, that TV ads are fundamentally more valuable, at least not as much more valuable as the network rate cards would suggest.
posted by mikel at 7:57 AM on May 28, 2002

> I hate ads as much as the next culturejammer, but...

I didn't claim I could possibly avoid them all; I just described my strategy. And, generally, it works, especially for pop-ups. I see one coming and I kill it before I can read it. And like watching the sun, you never look directly at it. I might see a vague smile or a car or something, but then it's gone, with no brand association.

That "punch the monkey" thing was on so many pages for so long that everyone had to see it or hear someone else joking about it. But I never clicked it. Did you? I don't even know what they were selling. (Please don't tell me.)

As for the non-computer advertising "onslaught," I just don't watch TV or read magazines, and I listen to a non-commercial radio station, so my head isn't full of jingles (or crappy pop songs, which are essentially jingles anyway).
posted by pracowity at 8:02 AM on May 28, 2002

Yeah, I close popups before they load too. That said, it's not as if I don't know all about X10 cameras.

Did you sacrifice TV or, more importantly, magazines, due to the advertising? Do you read the newspaper? I guess I just find it pretty astounding that someone who is part of our current media-world (Ie doesn't live in a straw hut) might still feel (or even be) untouched by the advert behemoth.
posted by Marquis at 8:28 AM on May 28, 2002

Those multiple postings of mine? I only hit 'post' once. I have no idea why it's in triplicate. It's purely coincidental, given the subject matter. My apologies.
posted by Jubey at 8:41 AM on May 28, 2002

> Did you sacrifice TV or, more importantly, magazines,
> due to the advertising? Do you read the newspaper?

Sacrifice doesn't describe it. Escaped it, perhaps. The TV was boring but always there, so when it broke we didn't replace it. I read lots of news from online newspapers, mainly stories from the NY Times and the Guardian dumped to the printer and read offline, and I honestly don't recall one ad from them. Most magazines are garbage, but I do print and read articles from a few text-heavy online magazines (New Yorker, Atlantic, London Review of Books, etc.).

I don't feel "untouched by the advert behemoth," but I would guess 95 to 99 percent of it misses me. I hear secondhand (in places like this) about many, many crappy things that I am never forced to experience firsthand. I have never seen even one episode of any of these, for example, which means of course that I haven't seen the ads that go with them. The good stuff, if there's any actually good stuff in there, I can always track down later should I ever get bored enough to buy a new television. If it is good, it will be rerun until long after we're dead, and probably sold in commercial-free packages. You don't have to watch or listen to the latest things just because they're the latest things. When you always chase the latest, you are easy meat for the advertisers.
posted by pracowity at 9:12 AM on May 28, 2002


what makes you think i'm against free markets? capitalism didn't invent the market. it's been around for hundreds of years. i enjoy markets! for example, buying organic produce from local farmers at the farmer's market on saturday.

i agree with your very black and white, all-or-nothing thinking. and working against irresponsible companies is not about "absolving myself of responsibility". it's about /actually doing something/ to bring about a better world rather than just sitting around sulking about how i can't be perfect.

even an organic farmer who grows all his own food is NOT self-sustaining! the whole world is totally interdependent and there's no escaping that. i have made many small choices consciously with respect to the ever-growing list of bad-citizen companies. how is any of this work lessened by the fact that i'm not perfect?
posted by muppetboy at 10:02 AM on May 28, 2002

uh, second paragraph, i meant "disagree"... ;-)
posted by muppetboy at 10:05 AM on May 28, 2002

When you always chase the latest, you are easy meat for the advertisers.

I agree, and I'm with you that TV is no great loss (I haven't owned one for two years). Still, the majority of ad dollars still go into print publications such as newspapers and magazines. Like you, my magazine reading is confined to what you call "text-heavy", but I support the publications by paying for print copies. It's strange, but most of these journals tend to have boring, "cool" ads, rather than the shiny chic ones that litter People and Time. As such, I don't think they have as significant an effect.

Still, if I visit Pitchfork or MetaFilter I'm going to see some ads (though it's only 1 in 100 times that I'll "notice" the content), and walking down the street (or waiting for the bus) there are hundreds or thousands more.

I guess I'm just trying to suggest that a self-assured "advertising don't touch me!" standpoint is worth questioning; such assumptions will presumably reduce the degree to which you evaluate your own perceptions of products/current events/media. It's my opinion that we're all being brainwashed, one billboard at a time, and it's important to be cognizant of the unfelt effects of this influence.
posted by Marquis at 10:13 AM on May 28, 2002

It's not so much being "brainwashed", Marquis, as just sensitized. The whole "branding" thing is about slightly increasing the probability that when you think of laundry detergent, the product "Tide" also comes to mind. The whole purpose of advertisements is to simply increase the connection in your mind between concepts like "clean clothes" or "laundry detergent" and Tide. The rest is just statistics.

A prof of mine in college put it this way: "Name 4 brands of X". Of course all the brands with heavy advertising come to mind immediately. But you'll probably have no idea if there are any generic/cheap/store brands.

Another prof in a friend's class did a survey. Will anyone in this class who feels they are NOT affected by advertising please raise their hands? All hands go up. Then he states there are N brands of sneakers available at the local mall (some big number like 20 or 30 or something). He then walks up and down the aisles "Nike Nike Adidas Nike..." Not even ONE non-name brand pair of sneakers! Not affected by advertising, indeed!
posted by muppetboy at 10:27 AM on May 28, 2002

When I go to a store, I buy what I need. I buy what's in the store. I'm not consciously aware of any brand specifics. The only commercials that might have affected me were the Saturn commercials of many years ago. They basically explained the car as practical, and that normal people like me drive them. However, I now prefer Saturns because I was in an accident once and I just loved how the car handled the accident. I felt safe inside the car. That's a greater selling point than whether or not the commercial was funny.

When I buy say, peanut butter for example, I buy the cheapest brand. I don't specifically buy "JIF" cuz I remember the brand from some commercial. In fact I generally avoid Jif specifically because it's usually the most expensive brand on the shelves.

If a company wants to sell their product, they get more space on the grocery store shelves or wherever the person's gonna go to buy their product. That's where they should do their pitch, where people are actually buying stuff. The fact tv commercials have annoyed people is an issue that the common man has known for decades. Practically ever since television was invented. Back in the b/w days, Shows would be "sponsored" by a company, and the name of the company would be incorporated into the show, like they do today at many sporting arenas.

Has there ever been any findings that prove a tv commercial increases sales? Why do companies waste money on tv? The problem is without tv commercials, all television networks would either turn pay or go out of business. When cable first appeared I thought that was gonna be the end of commercials, but by the time I gave up on cable tv and cancelled my subscription, most of the cable networks I watched were doing commercials. I mean there I was paying to watch the station, and I was still getting berated with ads. It felt like a ripoff, so I left cable.

Maybe there should be some level of duty to watch commercials for those shows one actually enjoys, in order to support that show and help keep it on the air, but it just doesn't work that way. Maybe people just want something for nothing?
posted by ZachsMind at 10:30 AM on May 28, 2002

Has there ever been any findings that prove a tv commercial increases sales?


Why do companies waste money on tv?

Because it works. Maybe not all the time. Maybe not on you. But it works. See the last paragraph of my last post.
posted by muppetboy at 10:39 AM on May 28, 2002

Advertising will touch me. That's exactly why I go to such lengths to avoid it. I don't own a TV, don't listen to commercial radio, and don't spend much time on highways with billboards. I see very few ads - some days none at all. It is a relief and I am glad to be out of the loop.

The downside is that an advertising barrage of normal proportions becomes nearly overwhelming. I have a hard time watching television at all, unless it's something like the Discovery Channel where all the ads are for other shows on the station you're already watching. I guess that there is a state of acclimation to advertising where it becomes tolerable.

I'm relieved, I think, to discover that my antipathy toward advertisement is a common feeling. It suggests that eventually perhaps we will realise we are all sick of ads, and once society's consensus shifts maybe we will all stop putting up with it.

posted by Mars Saxman at 10:43 AM on May 28, 2002

You make great points, muppetboy.

As for your post, ZachsMind, you're not being entirely fair. If you go to a store and are buying the cheapest product, well, then that's your only criterion. Let's say, however, that you wanted to buy some ice-cream for a very special dinner (wink wink). If you're looking for a premium product of that nature (thus your "price" criterion is no longer the principal deciding factor), what would you pick?

No-Name "Heavenly Chocolate" Ice-Cream. ($2.39)
Häagen-Dazs "Elite Cocoa" Ice-Cream. ($2.99)

On preview, Mars - terrific post. You hit the nail on the head. Several times.
posted by Marquis at 10:46 AM on May 28, 2002

I've mostly given up on live TV. It's much easier on my sanity to tape progams on the VCR and watch them later just so I can FF through the endless ads.

FOX, for example has so ruined TV with stupid ads, that I've given up on watching them as a live feed. I don't mind ads that actually tell you about the product that's being sold. Most of the commercials that you see on TV these days are pure branding plays that are bought in huge blocks so you see it every commercial break. Try watching FOX for ten minutes during prime time without seeing a Gap ad, Ford SUV ad or Mitsubishi ad.

It can't be done!

The sad part is that the consumer sheep will go out and buy anything as long as the branding machine bludgeons them into submission. We know that branding works and we're all vulnerable to it.

I know lots of folks who say "Branding doesn't work on me! I'm too smart!"

Bullshit. If it wasn't effective, ad execs wouldn't use it.

The only thing that we can do is not buy branded products, which I do to the best of my ability.

I don't listen to commercial radio, I've cut way back on TV and I don't really read any mainstream magazines. I can squash any pop up internet ad within half a second (keeps my reflexes sharp). This has helped, but it's just absurd that ad bombardment has gotten so bad in the past few years. The trend seems to be that the more people ignore ads, the more obnoxious they'll get. God help us.
posted by mark13 at 1:30 PM on May 28, 2002

One thing I forgot to ad: The networks are certain to do everything in their power to destroy the fledgling DVR industry and other commercial killing recording devices, just as the RIAA sent their legal hellhounds against MP3 file sharing sites.

They'll fail miserably of course, but they might put a lot of makers out of business in the process since the judical system is increasingly controlled by corporate interests.

After all, the Justice Department let Microsoft off the hook, didn't they?
posted by mark13 at 1:53 PM on May 28, 2002

mark, you might want to check out

in the god-help-us category, check out for a little glimpse of the future.
posted by muppetboy at 2:23 PM on May 28, 2002

So someone's trying to sell you something? So what? I really don't understand this violent aversion to advertising. If you feel compelled to try the product (either at the "Duh, they make pretty and funny pictures on my TV" or just the brand awareness level) then you'll either like it and stick with it or you won't.

When I was a child I took pride in being able to identify the product an ad was hawking in the first 3 seconds. It didn't mean that I pestered my parents for them incessantly though. I genuinely enjoyed a recent rundown of Britain's 100 greatest TV Ads because I really appreciated a lot of the ads mentioned. They were smart or innovative or just damn striking... and, of course, massively in the minority. 90% of advertising is crap, just like everything else.
posted by MUD at 3:19 PM on May 28, 2002

But, but...without so many tv ads, how in the world will the networks be able to afford to pay all those actors on Friends $1,000,000.00/episode???
posted by rushmc at 3:49 PM on May 28, 2002

Let's just hope nobody gets the bright idea to try blipverts.

I once saw a standup comedian do a riff on the whole Pepsi/Coke ad war thing. He included this hypothetical exchange:
Customer: ... and I'll have a Pepsi with that.
Counter guy: We only have Coke.
Customer: OK, whatever.

That doesn't work with all products, of course, but it's pretty funny.
posted by diddlegnome at 4:21 PM on May 28, 2002

diddlegnome, I do believe that would be Rich Hall in his pre-Otis Lee Crenshaw days. One of the funniest stand-ups I have ever seen.
posted by MUD at 4:30 PM on May 28, 2002

diddlegnome: I don't get what's funny about that exchange.
posted by ODiV at 5:24 PM on May 28, 2002

I dare someone to make this.

TV advertisers deny the existance of VCRs -- they have to or the businesses might realise how useless the ads are. I think someone should build an add for VCRs -- it should have three sections/regions to the screen. One runs very slowly, or shows just a basic fixed image (possibly repeated a few times down the side of the page) -- this if for people fast-forwarding to be able to tell what the ad is for. Bold text, few words. "Company X Winter Sale" for example. Then there's a normal speed section for the miserable bastards who are actually watching it live. Thene there's a high speed section -- 3 frames per item, ideal for sale catelogues. Then, if someone wants to know stuff about what's actually for sale they just step through frame by frame. 3 frames per item will mean that you'll always be able to get a stable picture, since it usually flickers between two frames.

There, a useful ad, not just an insult to our collective intelligence.
posted by krisjohn at 6:24 PM on May 28, 2002

muppetboy - have you ever seen such research that proves that tv ads increase sales? Do you know if there's a report such as that on the Web anywhere - I'm curious; I've seen such research offline, but not online.

Anyhow, it's based on huge assumptions about the context that arguably no longer obtain. In my opinion, such research is based on assumptions that were always pretty unreasonable, in fact. But everyone bought into the system and the assumptions cause it worked for everyone, whether or not sales changed.
posted by mikel at 7:13 AM on May 29, 2002

One of the most interesting branding incidents was New Coke. In blind taste tests, it was preferred to pepsi and classic coke, but in the market it bombed.

I don't know that actual ads work but I feel pretty certain that packaging makes a difference - I notice that I'm more likely to try a new product if I find it aesthetically appealing - like when Naked Juices came out, I much preferred their design to fresh samanthas, which I had never liked much (they beat out another juice co I used to like, Rocket juices, at least in my neck of the woods), so it was easy to switch me. When cost and product are essentially the same, I'm not ashamed to say i go for design.

But I don't think I pay any attention to commercials, partly because if a company gets big enough to pay for TV time more than likely they aren't selling anything I want. Someone mentioned branded tampons above, so I'll mention that I didn't hear about OBs from ads; it was word of mouth and at the time they were an innovation (I think the spiral fiber thing is still patented & it does work). But if they had done an ad campaign they might have provided useful info in it, while coke ads have nothing to say.

It's very interesing that the collapse of advertising online might precipitate the fall of TV ads - maybe they've just been assuming it works all this time and really it's about as effective as banner ads, and they're starting to realize that...
posted by mdn at 8:12 AM on May 29, 2002

It's funny, there's a discussion going round on email at the moment about a UK ad shown on TV years and years ago, with a jingle that went 'hope it's chips it's chips, we all hope it's chips it's chips' to the tune of Que Sera Sera. Everyone remembers it, no-one can remember the product.
posted by Summer at 8:36 AM on May 29, 2002

McCain oven chips, wasn't it, Summer? I remember the ads well. Can't say I've ever bought oven ready chips as a result.

I agree, there are some ads out there worth watching. I always liked the Castlemaine XXXX ads. Especially when Carling did that spoof of the Castlemaine ads. I'd never buy either Castlemaine or Carling if it wasn't for the fact that my girlfriend actually seems to prefer the cheaper, shittier lager out there. (Go figure?)
posted by salmacis at 4:57 PM on May 29, 2002

No, salmacis, it wasn't, that's a common misperception.
posted by Summer at 1:21 AM on May 30, 2002

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