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Necessary Evils or Guilty Pleasures? #TVads #TVcommercials #advertising » Jolana Malkston
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Jul 262017

Television commercials are necessary evils. Some are more evil, prevalent, and maddening than others. A lot more. Too many more.

Particularly annoying are the ads for pharmaceuticals that claim their drugs will cure you and then you hear numerous disclaimers of how the side effects of their drugs will no doubt kill you first. The disclaimers go on and on and on as if they’re trying to talk me out of using their products. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so terrifying.

Those pharmaceutical commercials are probably written by attorneys that advertise their prowess in getting bigger lawsuit settlements than their incompetent competitors.

The lawsuits are undoubtedly filed against the insurance companies who advertise that their helpful service and generous coverage is superior to that of their ruthless, blood-sucking competition. And so on.

Traditional broadcast networks have to pay their bills somehow, I suppose, and selling advertising time is the easiest and the most profitable method, depending on a program’s popularity. Companies get the word out about their products. Amassing enough “sponsors” allows networks to air their programming for free to the TV viewing public. A win-win scenario.

Ha! Win-win for them, maybe. Not necessarily for us. We the viewers know those programs aren’t free, don’t we? There is definitely a price for us to pay, a heavy price. We have to sit through at least a dozen multi-ad commercial interruptions per program.

The number of ads during hour and half-hour long shows are aggravating. The huge number of commercials during movie broadcasts is unendurable. The screening pattern that I’ve noticed is about fifteen to twenty minutes to the first multi-ad commercial interruption—that gets you hooked on watching—and from then on there is a multi-ad commercial interruption following every five minutes of motion picture. They even have one between the final scene and the movie end credits. Ridiculous.

Having once worked in an advertising agency, I’m not a total commercial curmudgeon. There are and have been some excellent commercials out there. The best of the best manage to touch the emotions or amuse and entertain. Those can actually qualify as guilty pleasures.

Years ago, Kodak produced a number of very warm, touching photo commercials. Budweiser with its magnificent Clydesdales also tugged on the heartstrings with its ads. Cheerios had a commercial that was both touching and funny. A mom tells her little daughter that Cheerios are healthy for you and can protect again heart attacks. In the next scene, the dad wakes up from a nap on the couch to find himself covered in Cheerios. Awww.

If commercials are well-written and well-produced, they can actually be more entertaining than the shows they sponsor. Terrific recent examples are the outrageous Poo-Pourri commercials from the U.K. that are laugh out loud funny (see my post Oh, Poo! I’m LMAO!)

The Kia ad with Melissa McCarthy trying to save every endangered species on the planet was a hoot. She became an endangered specie herself the harder she tried. Hilarious.

I can’t help chuckling at the Allstate “All Alone” safe driving bonus checks ad featuring a family car trip. While driving, the dad complains to himself that he’s all alone because his family is ignoring him with their headphones on, totally engrossed in playing with their electronic devices. He doesn’t care because he got safe driving bonus checks. His attitude is so funny. The gleam in his eyes sells it.

I also get a kick out of the State Farm Insurance “furniture” commercial where a woman and her friend are gushing over the new blue suede couch the woman bought. That night, two seedy-looking burglars have the very same gushing conversation—word for word—over that couch right before they steal it. Ha-ha!

The entertaining ads that crack me up the most lately are the three Progressive Insurance soap opera themed commercials. A couple of soap opera types argue over breaking up, comas, and amnesia in each one. A sequin-gowned Susan Lucci appears at the end as a bonus. In each of the three ads, she has a different line of dialogue, and the male actor delivers a different punch line. My favorite is when Susan also claims she just awoke from a coma, and the male actor retorts, “It’s called a nap, Susan Lucci.” Too, too funny!

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