Perhaps I’ve lost touch with reality or maybe just become a bit more enlightened. At the risk of making too bold a statement, I think commercials have, for the most part, become more entertaining than the television programs they bankroll.
I’ve been a fan of many shows in my time-“M*A*S*H*,” “Cheers,” “Law & Order,” “The Daily Show” and, dare I admit it, “Doogie Howser, M.D.” I was a sucker for his girlfriend Wanda. Over the years my interest has turned to the filler, rather than the prime time offerings.
I can easily trace this to my father and the office supply store Staples. Years ago, they had a commercial which they occasionally replay during their annual back to school sale.
In the ad, two children look as though their puppy has just been run over. Their father, on the other hand, is literally skipping through the aisles filling his cart with scholastic fare to the tune of one of the more annoying songs to ever come out of Christmas. As the chorus goes, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”
This is what my father used to taunt my brother and I with ever year just prior to Labor Day. At first it was painful, but soon, even on my way back to school, it became kind of amusing.
There are some brilliant advertising agencies out there and their ability to market products is astounding. A prime example of this might be the ad campaign used for Volkswagen.
A guy is laboriously washing a new VW Passat. He has a bucket of soapy water and is scrubbing the wheels with a small hand brush. The camera shot widens and the real owner comes out his front door to see this stranger detailing his car.
“Hey,” he yells.
The guy washing the car gets a frightened look on his face and we cut to the advertisement and announcer: “Get your own Passat.”
Commercials have even been able to make it into our vernacular at an alarming rate. Who amongst us didn’t utter, “Where’s the beef?” from that horrid ad for Wendy’s or “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” from some medical alert company whose name escapes me.
Commercials are powerful messengers with an audience big enough to rate its own award even, the Clio, given out in an annual ceremony. As children, commercials are, for lack of a better term, eye candy.
They continue at the break where our cartoons left off stunning us with toys that talk and move on their own (which never really do in real life… even when you do use the batteries which were never included.)
As we grow, advertisements enlighten us to the fads and fashions, which influence a large part of our lives. As we approach middle age, commercials are the harbinger of everything we need (life insurance at no cost and with no medical exam is a great example.)
And as senior citizens, commercials are all laxatives and attorneys who want to write our wills interrupting our “Matlock” reruns (seems like a pretty bleak outlook doesn’t it?)
I say enjoy commercials when you’re young, because from here on out it’s only a short distance to denture cleaners and baldness remedies.