Commercial Interruptions

In another life, I worked in advertising for 13 years. I wrote, read, and even dreamed in double-spaced, capitalized lines of 30-60 second ad copy. When that career ended, I found it difficult to watch television because my brain had been conditioned to listen to the commercials too closely. Today, I tune in mostly for news and wait for my favorite shows to hit Amazon or Hulu. Still, every time I turn on the TV, there they are — commercials I watch with far too much interest.

What I notice about these first two is the similarity of the songs used by Ferraro Rocher and

(Oh, oh, oh starts at 15 seconds.)

(Oh, oh, oh starts at 4 seconds.)

But wait, then there’s the Toyota Prius “Hum” commercial, where “hum, hum, hum” starts at 9 seconds. And is it just me, or are all these voices in the same range of similar?

Still, none of these will make me switch the channel as fast as I do for the Yellow Tail “Go To” ad. I don’t even know why it bugs me so much, but it does. It doesn’t make Yellow Tail seem appealing, or like something I’d like to try:

And then there are the commercials I wish I’d have written. The first one, from Ragu, has made me laugh each of the 20 or so times I’ve seen it:

This one from Google, while leaning on the familiar tale of a supermom having to perform a last-minute miracle, has just the most adorable little Martin Van Buren at the end that you’d have to be a Scrooge not to smile.

Of course, advertising (like almost everything under the sun) is highly subjective. It also remains powerful. I was reminded of this the other night when I happened upon a shopping channel selling what I thought was possibly the most hideous shirt in the world for a ridiculously high price. As the hosts bantered in long-form poetic style about wrinkle-free, easy care polyester, the sales count numbers on the screen indicated that they were quickly selling out. One person’s hideous is another person’s must-have. While the “oh, oh, oh” songs drive me crazy, others are asking when they can get the full version on iTunes. There’s a life lesson in that that goes beyond diversity, but I’m too busy trying to wipe out my 10 minutes of HSN with cute Iams commercials.

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