Friday, September 14, 2012

All Paths Lead to Door Number 1

For a moment there I thought they were on to something great. I was on Hulu to watch an old TV show episode and they make you watch commercials. They began by giving me three thumbnails and asked me which commercial I wanted to see.

My first thought was that it was stupid—like asking me whether I wanted hemlock, arsenic or cyanide. Then I thought, at least this is a chance to pick something that could be worthwhile.

Because if you think about it, there are three major problems with TV commercials (and to an increasing extent, internet video ads). The first is that they break into whatever you're watching. But if you do it intelligently (there are obvious places where you can place a commercial break and not ruin the flow of the story), that problem can be overcome.

The second problem is that they're often moronic; but it's been that way since advertising began. There are some very bright, very clever people in advertising. Unfortunately, there are a hell of a lot of dumbasses in it, too.

But the killer, the worst one of all, is the irrelevent ad, the one you have to sit through knowing full your time is being completely wasted. That one drives me crazy because now something can be done about it; I could choose my commercial.

Example: during the show I watched, the regular commercials included these products: a) tampons (I'm a man, I don't use them); b) cat food (I don't have a cat); c) an insurance company that already has my business; and d) various kids' back-to-school stuff (I don't have kids).

There are plenty of businesses I wouldn't mind hearing from, and products I'd be interested to know more about.

Anyway, it turned out to be a false alarm. My three choices all turned out to be Chevy ads, even pitching the same thing. It would be like getting a choice of three Progressive Insurance commercials, all pushing their multiple-coverage discounts. Do I want to see Flo talking to the fat guy, or Flo talking to the bald guy, or Flo talking to the tattooed woman?

And then they wonder why sales are down.

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