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Friday, May 31, 2013

Annoying Ads: Please Stop It. Really.

The other day I was driving down the road and a kid walked into the crosswalk and almost got killed. Why did that happen? Because he didn't have the right of way and he didn't notice or care. That's why. 
Why is that? Because he had his head buried in his Iphone and was texting, that's why. Texting whomever he was texting was apparently much more important than looking up and protecting his own life. Hold that thought. I will get to it at the end.

Colin Mochrie is one of the wittiest, sharp and funny comics out there. When it comes to thinking on your feet he is as good as it gets. He is a master at improv and has been on TV many times doing exactly that. I would never knock his talent or his character. However, in this case, I have to wonder what made him put his reputation up for grabs for an ad so annoying that it can only hurt his career. It certainly has soured me on him to a great extent. Of course, I know why he did it...they paid him gobs of money to do it. Not rocket science there.

For the last couple of months I have taken to watching the nightly news program, The National, online late at night. I do this online because we don't have cable anymore. I have found that in the couple of years since we cancelled cable, about the only thing I missed was keeping up with the events and stories of the world, and mostly with the Canadian angle on them. For my money, nobody does it better than the CBC.
Now, I could sit at the computer and watch, but I don't. I like to sit back on the couch and watch it like we used to on TV. Except for one thing. I don't have a remote and can't change the channel or lower the volume if I so choose without getting up.
Even though the CBC is publicly funded, I do understand that they have to do something to at least pay some percentage of their bills. Great investigating and reporting doesn't come cheap. Because of that, I am willing to accept the commercials and at least not skip over them. However, what I am not willing to do is be offended by a lack of common sense and decency, and generally a lack of respect that the commercial makers and programmers are showing.
When I am watching late at night, others in the house are sleeping. I set the volume to a reasonable level based on the actual show I am watching. When the commercials come on, I would not expect them to be ridiculously loud to the point that I have to get off the couch and alter the volume. That is just rude. No, it is annoying. Offensively insulting actually. 

Ads have always been a part of life in the media. Unless you have strict pay tv, and even then, you are going to have to deal with commercials to get content. And that's okay. At times, commercials can and have been somewhat entertaining. I remember back in the days of "Where's The Beef?" and countless others that we would watch and enjoy the commercials. Some were boring and you wished they weren't there, but at least they were tolerable.
You know what they weren't? They weren't excessively loud and annoying. When did this become a trend?

Sure, Gordon Ramsey is interesting. Loud? Yes. But he is also interesting, for at least the first few times. But would I want to associate him with my product? Certainly not. He is abrasive, offensive, a bully, a loudmouth and generally comes off very negative.
This is the reverse strategy that was used very poorly with one of the great commercials of the last few years. The Geico Caveman commercials, which most of us loved. It was a great commercial.

Then some bonehead network executive thought it was a good idea to make it into a sitcom. That worked out really well. 

So, I thought about it. Why would advertisers go out of their way to piss off the viewers. Then I realized, they are aiming at the generation that is so consumed with their blackberries, texting, twittering and the like that they aren't really paying attention. So, they jack up the volume to shock them into paying attention. Think of it as advertising for the ADD generation. In the old days, we didn't have any options for our attention when the commercials came. Now, this generation does.
And that makes sense on some level, except that those are not the people who would go out of their way to watch The National on the internet. So, in this case, all they are doing is annoying potential customers not gaining them. People like me. In essence, instead of gaining customers, they are not only not doing that, but they are losing customers. The worst thing you can do is leave the impression that your company is annoying and not caring of the customers best interests. If I can't trust you to at least present your commercial to me in an adult and responsible way, why would I expect your company to deal with me in that way when I have to deal with your customer service? The answer is simple. I wouldn't. 

 (I could only find the french version of the Fido ad, which isn't that loud. The English version is obscenely loud.)

Rogers isn't the only one to do that. Hardly. Even just on the National, Fido and Cisco both run very annoying, very loud commercials. It seems to be a trend cooked up by some Gen X or Gen Y wannabe Steve Jobs who just doesn't get it.
Now, I am sure the vast majority of advertisers don't care about my opinion. But...they should. I have money. I make spending decisions. I am also sure that the CBC is just happy to have a steady, big money advertiser like Rogers, or Cisco, or Fido. And that's great. But the bottom line is that is not enough. They need public funds to carry on. And to do that, they need people like me who are willing to support those who give them the public funds derived from my taxes. If they piss me off, then why would I want to keep supporting them? I wouldn't.  
It's so easy, a Caveman could do it. Maybe they should hire a Caveman at the ad exec companies and/or the networks. Apparently, it isn't that easy to see the obvious when it comes to the new strategy of target advertising. 
So, I will say it, as LOUD AS YOU NEED ME TO!
I hope that got your attention. Something better. Maybe I should text it instead of writing it intelligently? 
Never mind. I will retreat to my cave. For 15 minutes anyway.


  1. I AGREE!! The sound level of tv ads these days is way over the top. Why do they do it? You suggested that it might be because those texting and/or talking or gaming on their iphones wouldn't be paying attention, so increasing the volume increases the chances that they will look up from whatever they are doing to see what all the ruckus is about.... I think it is more than that. My thoughts are even if we are annoyed with them, we will remember our annoyance and so in effect, they win twice. First, they figured out a sure fire way to snag our attention, (albeit negative attention)... but then, by doing it in such a hugely annoying way, they've managed to keep our attention focused on their ads because now we are SO annoyed by them that we just have to talk about how annoying they are!!!

  2. I have a few more years under my belt with the loud and/or obnoxious commercials and must say your tolerance is much more long suffering than my own was and is. When I was in my teens there was a 'new' product on the market which is really today the grandaddy of the unisex gels. Of course, I remember its name - it was said, 33 times in less than 30 seconds - playfully, forcefully, seductively, loudly, and mostly, annoyingly. I vowed never to buy it, and as my hair then was pin straight - I was always ten years ahead of the curve - setting my hair was a nightly chore. My cousin BOUGHT AND GAVE TO ME as a Christmas present - it worked great and when the huge jar {almost the size of a kitchen cookie jar} ran empty - did I buy more? NO. The annoyance level turned me off to that product as I'm sure it did to many others who may have eventually caved. I was and probably still am pigheaded in areas. Annoyance is one of them, poking another - but that is a fulltime story. The name of the product - Dippy Do. Dippy didn't get a second change until it spawned babies.


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