Basic Cable for the Internet
Friday, March 11, 2005
  TV Ads
I don't watch a lot of TV, something I'm not just proud of... I'm smug about it.

Kidding, of course, but here's why I can't afford to be smug: I don't watch TV because I don't have enough self-control to stop when there's nothing on. Too often I would turn the TV on when there was nothing on that I wanted to watch, leave it on through a series of programs that I had no interest in, and not turn it off even when there was something on that actively annoyed me.

Same reason I don't buy an XBox or a Playstation. I don't have the willpower to stop playing once I've started.

But I did have the TV on the other day: I could claim that I was watching Dan Rather's historic signoff, or a fascinating show on the econo-religious implications of Middle Earth pigeon-stuffing techniques on PBS, but it wasn't. It was Will & Grace.

What amazed me was the sheer amount of car ads. The commercial breaks started with car ads, continued with car ads, ended with car ads. What the hell?

When I worked in radio, an unbroken rule (under pain of working with the oh-so-crazy morning "Krew" for two days, punishment I wouldn't wish on an army composed entirely of my worst enemies) was that you *never* placed two ads in a row from competing products. A cereal doesn't follow a cereal, Slumberland doesn't follow Dirty Stained Used Mattress Liquidators, Pepsi doesn't follow Coke. Car ads don't follow car ads.

But now the sheer overwhelming number of car ads seems to make it impossible to go into a commercial break without over half the ads being for cars. The Law of Ad Distribution in that case breaks down, and Chevy follows Ford, Toyota follows Hyundai. It's not as if you could even claim that the ads targeted different segments of the market: it might even make a bit of sense if an ad for a Lexus were paired with an ad for the Kia CrumpleOnImpactia... different targets (so to speak). But nope, several ads in the same break advertising cars in the (say) $20-25k range. One ad right after another advertising the latest SUV capabilities: the ad for the Toyota LandMauler followed by an ad where the Volkswagon Kilimanjaro drags the
LandMauler around on its rims while pushing the Ford Behemoth into the path of an oncoming train.

Is this desperation, or are they so flush with cash that they just don't care whether their message is completely diluted and lost within the overload?
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