TV Commercials – The Good and The Bad

Okay, so it’s something that is a lot of things at the same time.  They can be annoying or they can be funny.  You can love them or hate them.  Whatever the case, they will always be around as long as some traditional form of broadcast or cable TV is around.

Just because I like talking with someone who will agree with me nine times out of ten, I often talk with Sharla about how I like or dislike commercials while we are waiting for whatever we are watching to come back.  I won’t make any difference in the world, or advertising venues in the least, but it’s at least fun critiquing them with her.  In doing just that, I think I’ve found three main problems that commercials have nowadays.

They Tend To Over-Represent

Sometimes commercials will have a scope that is too vast for them.  There’s no need to change the world with your product, just tell us why we need it.  Best examples I can think of are those “Life Takes Visa” and the Firestone Tires commercials.

I’m pretty sure that my life will be just fine without having to owe a credit card corporation throughout it.  Life takes the sort of money that I wouldn’t have if I had to deal with credit card charges, I’m sure.  And I don’t need sexy models singing “aaaaand the wheeeel goes round” telling me why those paticular tires are better.  Your scope is overreaching your audience.  People who buy tires don’t care how good the two models tango next to the tires.  That has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Just sell what you are selling in the proper perspective.  Tell me reasonable things I can do with my Visa card, not sweeping overgeneralizations that say I have to have the card in order to perform bodily functions.  And for goodness sake, an auto mechanic is more convincing than Abercrombie and Fitch models when it comes to selling tires.  Seriously, come on.

They Are Condescending To Customers

The worst kind of commercials are those that paint the consumers as stupid as the corporate boardrooms must think they are.  These are usually exhibited in the form of commercials that feature an ideal customer acting completely ridiculous and stupid.

Bellsouth is the worst offender when it comes to this.  One commercial goes so far to depict customers as raving lunatics who will actually stalk people in order to steal gift cards.  Another on the radio depicts a potential customer as duct taping devices together to save money, when he could have been doing it with Bellsouth.  At the end of the ad, his wife makes fun of him for owning a “tacky man chair”.

Another repeat offender is Domino’s Pizza.  Customers are often shown as clueless or over-stereotyped.  Especially when a delivery person brings the pizza to the door.  We have all seen these.  The customer seems to be obvlivious to what they’ve just ordered and has to have it spelled out for them, while they grovel to the delivery person and perform various acts of idiocy.
We aren’t stupid.  You are making fun of us.  What is stupid are these commercials that pander to the lowest common denominator in order to try and get a cheap laugh.  Just, for the love of all things good in the world, stop it.

They Aren’t Entirely Truthful

The Apple vs. PC ads are pretty witty and are well designed, but they aren’t entirely honest.  The Apple kid tells the PC guy that he doesn’t do anything fun.  The guy even looks all business and shows his vacation in the form of pie charts.  But what the Apple kid won’t tell you is that the majority of computer games run on Windows.  If you want to have fun with many graphics intensive games, you are gonna do it with Mr. Business.

The Dell commercials aren’t entirely honest either.  They show how they will build a computer for you.  You.  Especially you.  As if the computer you will get is unique in every way and tailor fitted exactly for you.  When in reality they will try and sell you the same expensive and maxed out PC that they try to sell everyone.  In reality, there are really only around five main possible configurations you can really buy from Dell.  They just want to make you feel all warm and special inside because there is a factory full of people who will make a computer just for you.

Be honest about what you sell.  Honesty truly is the best policy.  I’d rather be happily surprised with the quality of your product rather than disappointed that I don’t have what was advertised to me.

In review, commercials simply need to know what they are selling, be honest about it, and sell it in the appropriate scope.  The only worst thing than bad advertising is a bad product that had overreaching advertising.

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