Jennifer's Journal


Sunday, February 05, 2006

On My Mind

It’s a tradition at this time of year, around Super Bowl Sunday, to pay attention to commercials--mainly because of the ridiculous sums paid for mere seconds of air time during the Big Game.  They are a truly modern phenomenon, one that says much about our society.  It seems to me that ads we particularly like or dislike say something about us personally, as well.  For instance, some of my favorites are those for United Airlines that are simply stylized line drawings set to background music from Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.  They touch a chord because they are about people and what’s important to them, about helping bring out the best of the human spirit in the areas of innovation, dedication and caring for others.  Well, maybe the fact that it’s always “Time to Fly” for me has something to do with my enjoyment.J  I’m also fond of the Geico gecko lizard in the newer skits with the voice-over done by an actor with an Australian accent.  Are gecko’s Australian?  I thought they were from Central America and the Caribbean, but no matter.  I enjoy the accent, quiet tone, and subtle humor.  On the other hand, I dislike intensely the commercials for a credit card company which include rather cruel put-downs and dumb pratfalls—I mute the volume or change the channel when these come on.  And the mortgage company ad with the spokeswoman who makes the same mechanical gesture with her hands over and over as she talks?  Drives me nuts.  Car ads that feature crazy stunts done at high speeds raise my blood pressure too, as if teen drivers need any encouragement to risk death and maiming. Of course, advertising agencies claim people don’t have to like a particular commercial for it to be effective – it just has to grab their attention so they remember it.  I happen to think they’re wrong; I throw out snail mail from companies with ads that annoy me, just on general principles.  Besides, commercials are so omnipresent in our lives it seems they ought to enrich the culture in some way.  Or if they can't make it better they should, at the very least, be prohibited from making it worse. 



Blogger Nicole Reising said...

I think that you have a knack for pointing out areas that I've never thought of considering beyond the obvious - for example this post on commercials.

I actually told my husband that I didn't want to watch the game today as the commercials drive me nuts. And they do. The game could be over sooo much quicker if it weren't for those darn commercials. But that's a whole 'nother subject that I won't get started on.

I'd never considered how commercials could impact us as a whole of society nor in general what it says about us as a society. I guess I have considered it at times but only in mild passing; when something is so blatently obviously scewed and is being made fun of. But beyond that... nope I have not put much thought into it.

Simply put: Some I like. Some I don't. Some I will watch again and again and again, even while flipping to the point of stopping and going back to see it. Others I will purposefully flip because it irritates me so.

I do have one thing to say either way though and it is relevant to both sides of the coin. I usually never know what it is that their advertising. Nope. Sorry good 'ole advertising boys, but I really don't. In fact when I retell a 'good' commercial to someone, almost always the first words out of my mouth are; I'm not sure what they're trying to sell but this is what happened... and I was rolling...

So I'm sorry to say it but they are failing in their endeavor to get me to react in a certain way. No matter how they have presented the product.


12:11 PM  
Blogger Mariad said...

Hi Jennifer,
I agree about the car commercials they should not have fast and speeding cars. Teens don't need to be encouraged any more than they already are.

One of my favorites, I don't know why but it was when my son was little. It was the Vandicamps (SP) fish commercial. I used to sing it to him all the time. lol

As for getting advertisments in the mail. I toss them all out.

Another one I don't like very much and it's because they target teen girls is Victoria Secrets. Also because the models are super gorgeous and super skinny, I believe it unconciously promotes eating disorders.

There is a comerical out now with a chubby african girl for I think is' Dove? soap or shampo. She's not really chubby but normal size. I applaud them for using an actress that isn't a skulleton with skin. I'm so bad.

I would like to see more commercials that promote good behavior and values. It seems the kids are the ones who pay attention, more so than I do.

Regaurds, Maria

7:46 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Blake said...

How nice to "see" you, Cole! Thanks for the photo.

Yes, I do agree there are far too many commercials--which is one of the reasons I like PBS and/or recording things with my Dishnet system. I can speed through the commercials and see the movie or whatever in record time. Companies hate that!

As usual, they were talking on MSNBC this morning about ads that hit or missed on the Super Bowl-which I didn't watch, btw, being upstairs watching Midsomer Murders on the Biography Channel. My husband mentioned the ones he thought made the grade. His favorite was with the one with the little Clydesdale pony getting into the oversized horse collar to pull the big wagon--with the help of a couple of big Clydesdales pushing behind. Wish I'd seen that! Even though it's my personal opinion that there are far too many beer commercials on the air, that they should all be banned like the hard liquor commercials. The last thing pre-teens and teens need is to be encouraged to think that it's cool to have a refrigerator stocked with nothing except beer.

Okay, down off the soapbox.

But you're right about not remembering the company behind most ads. The problem there, I think, goes back to the numbers we see. We zone out--which ought to tell somebody a thing or two. But I don't think I'll hold my breath waiting...

1:12 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Blake said...

I couldn't agree with you more, Maria, about the Victoria's Secret ads--or the super-thin models shown on most runways. They look like waifs from a Dicken's orphanage or prison camp survivors--not fit role models for anyone. The problem is that these stick-thin figures sell clothes. Women ought to boycott designers who promote this look. Makes you wonder, doesn't it, if a part of the problem with obesity in America isn't a reaction, if women aren't so tired of the expectation that they should be thin, thin, that they just say to heck with it and give up trying.

Peronally, I think we all ought to go back to loose, graceful and simple clothing like that worn by Greek goddesses. Throw on your bedsheet, sans underwear, and go. We're all goddesses anyway, aren't we?

1:25 PM  
Blogger Mom Nancy said...

I actually studied advertising and public relations in college, planning someday to write/produce television commercials, and one thing we learned is that even if you remember a commercial, if you don't remember what it's for, the commercial failed. The objective of an advertisement is to get you to remember a product, because even if, at the time, you don't want that product, name recognition is the big point. Someday, you may want or need something and companies what their names to be what you think of. An ad that annoys you can still be effective if you remember the product name. Also, there's a whole science to who companies market their ads for. Cleary, an ad about having a secret refrigerator full of beer (I never watch the Super Bowl - my husband isn't a sports guy although I love football - but I always check out the commercials the next day online) isn't geared toward you, Jennifer. It's geared to guys who watch football and drink beer!!!

I do agree about body image. It's something even I, at almost 47, struggle with. I think that's why I like books with heroines who worry about their thighs or bellies. It's real.

7:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jennifer,
TV commercials are bad enough but now we are subjected to them in theaters before the feature starts!
My least favorite ad on TV is for Sin City "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas". Seems sleazy to me!
My current favorite is for Hallmark cards featuring the young singer with the dreamy voice, Michael Buble. If you're not familiar with him check it out. I think you will like him.
Sharon from Texas

12:32 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Blake said...

Thanks for the comments, Mom Nancy. Very interesting! My problem with beer commercials, though, is not that they're tasteless or bother me personally, but that they're beamed toward the 12 to 17 year-olds who are sitting there watching sports with their drinking-age older brothers, cousins and fathers. The implication is that it's cool to drink beer and see the game, that the two things somehow go together. Which they do in many areas--but which came first, the chicken or the egg? Hard liquor commericals are banned from television. Why not beer commercials? I'm not a tee-totaler by any means, but I know that alcohol is alcohol; drink enough beer and you get drunk. Stockpiling beer or worshiping the source shouldn't be portrayed to the young and impressionable as a great, all-American thing to do. It wouldn't hurt advertisers to show a little social conscience. Just my .02.

Absolutely, Sharon--the Sin City commerical struck me as over the top, too. Why not just say, "hey, guys, run out here and live it up; your wife and family will never know." Too crude. Haven't seen the ad with Michael Buble, but did catch one with clips from his new album. My kind of music, yes. I'll have to watch for the Hallmark gig.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Mom Nancy said...

I totally agree that beer commercials are aimed at young boys. It's another well-known thing in advertising that women will buy something advertised to men, but men will not buy something advertised to women, generally. This is why you don't see many women in beer commercials who are actually buying or using beer (I'm not talking about scantily clad bimbos trying to get a man's attention). I do believe that advertisers should have a conscience, but on the other hand, people are ultimately responsible for their own actions and parents SHOULD be aware of their children's activities. We don't watch sports in our house so I don't see a lot of beer commercials. I do HATE ads for birth control, and not just because of my own feelings on the issue, but because I believe that it projects into my living room things that are, in my opinion, private and not what I want my children exposed to. I stopped watching Friends and Seinfeld when my daughter was young because I didn't want her to be exposed to the kinds of immorality discussed so openly. I don't like to see immorality glorified in my living room, and some of the popular television programs make it appear completely normal to sleep around or have sex outside of marriage, even before you finish high school, because that's how you show "love."

Okay, we're moving off your issue here. Sorry, but I feel the content of TV shows and movies is more dangerous than commercials.

8:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, the Gecko has a British accent, not Aussie.

10:55 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Blake said...

LOL, anonymous--I wondered when someone was going to point that out. I realized it myself the other day while watching Midsomer Murders on the Biography Channel. Thanks for the interest!

8:54 AM  

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