5 things I hate about TV commercials (#1)

#1: Any commercial shown before 6pm or after 12am.

Yes, I know that’s most of them.

Daytime and late night commercials are terrible. Plain and simple. Many promote gender, ethnic, and age stereotypes in an effort to target their demographic. And they are universally of such poor quality that it makes me want to purposely avoid the products.

Early morning commercials
In the morning, before the kids are off to school, commercials show little boys playing with exciting cars and military action figures while little girls dress in pink princess costumes and playing house. Gender profiling aside, these kids have way more toys than they need, they look a little too old to be playing with these toys anyway, and they don’t seem to be playing out a story but simply making sweeping exclamations: “Cool!” “Awesome!” “Pretty!”

Daytime commercials
After the kids are in school, and cartoons give way to soaps, talk shows, and tough-love “courtroom judges” (note the ironic use of quotation marks), the commercials change, too. Typically they fall into one of 5 categories…
Cleaning products. Busy (and good looking) woman says: “It’s tough enough being a mom. I don’t have time to keep my house clean! If you’re like me, you will clean your house better with these effective products”.
Car dealerships. Short, sign-holding car dealer shouts to the camera: “We’ve all gone crazy down here at XYZ Dealerships. We’re so crazy we’ve slashed our prices on new and used cars. You won’t believe the deals (etc., etc.)”
“Medicine” (again, note irony). Examples include HeadOn and the QRay bracelet. In general, these commercials depict regular people trying in various ways to verify the dubious claims of the remedy with anecdotal experience… or they simply ignore their claims all together.
Career Institutes. Essentially these are schools that seem to only teach medical transcription (which, according to every ad, is a growing field, although I’m not clear how). The ads seem to be so poorly produced that it makes me think that maybe the schools also teach video production, but just not very well.
Injury attorneys. This is the group of people you’d think could afford good commercials and yet they insist on a standard “talking head” commercial in which the lawyers themselves are clearly reading cue-cards. If they’re making as much money as they say they’re making, they need to hire someone to write a good commercial for them.

If you miss daytime commercials because you’re at work, count yourself lucky!

Here is one commercial you miss. Yes, it’s a real commercial. No, I have not cut anything out of it.

Somewhere between midday and late night (presumably 6-ish) the commercials improve in quality. Without a doubt it’s because more people are watching television at this time and the people who earn an income (hint: the best market to target!) are now home from work.

And for this short stretch of 6 hours, the commercials take on a new quality. Or at least they try.

Late night commercials
All good (or even passable) things must come to an end and by midnight, television networks are trading good commercials for bad once again. These ones target a completely different market. Daytime commercials targeted busy moms, potential students, and those who want to sue someone. Late night commercials target the elderly and the entrepreneurial with…
“Medicine”. Again with the remedies of dubious value. Not surprisingly, HeadOn and QRay are the two most common.
Reverse mortgages. This pull-equity-out-of-your-home commercial feels a lot like the “medicine” commercials: We see the product… but it has dubious value.
Get Rich Quick schemes. From their yacht or their Caribbean beach house, a white-pants-wearing wealthy person offers the secrets to their success for 4 easy installments. Testimonials follow (with disclaimers!). It’s usually related to real estate, for some reason. Thrown in for good measure are money-back guarantees and “if you call in the next five minutes, we’ll reduce the payment by one installment”. I’ve always been a “night owl” so I tend to see these commercials if I happen to leave the TV on after watching Leno or Letterman. Years ago, the very first get rich quick scheme I’d ever seen was this one.

Although there was some controversy over his ridiculous claims and “opportunity”, he was never charged with fraud. And, interestingly enough, he has made a comeback as a legitimate poker champion.As a self employed business person who works out of my home, there is one benefit to a day that is three-quarters filled with bad commercials: it improves my productivity. I have little desire to turn on the TV during those times, even if the show might slightly appeal to me because the commercials are so repulsive.Commercials are an interruption and viewers completely ignore most of them. There are a few that might get through, but they need to be compelling and well produced. Many of these daytime and late night commercials are neither compelling nor well-produced. And that makes it seem like they don’t even try.

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