Anyone who understands anything about running a business knows that well placed ads and commercials are important to the bottom line of a company. Consumers also rely on them to get information about products and services. My intent is not to trash commercials as I have nothing against them, but how much is too much?
Our society is over run with ads and commercials. When you turn around and see ads and commercials everywhere, whether it's on billboards, outdoor screens, theaters, TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, train stations, bus stops, the internet and DVDs what does it say about what we value as a nation? Television in particular suffers from this problem because it's such a popular medium. Everybody loves TV, so that's where advertisers concentrate much of their advertising power and this glut of commercial programming is driving people away from traditional ways of consuming television. Many prefer to bypass watching programs on TV and instead watch them online. Has it stopped? No, advertising creep continues to rise. Many years ago we used to get at least 25 minutes of show content and a few minutes of advertising. Today, advertising creep has overtaken time once used for show programming. We now get 15 or 16 minutes of content per 30 minute show while the rest of the time is used for commercials, so, per show episode sometimes you see more commercials than you do show content! The same problem exists in radio. Ever wonder why they always cut into the beginning and the end of songs? It's no wonder some people turn to the internet and to TIVO to get away from all of this out of control ad placement. In order to create more time for commercials, most TV shows no longer have a traditional opening credit scene. Where the opening credits usually had a song to introduced you to the characters on the show, many shows have dispensed with that altogether and simply place the name of the show somewhere in the opening scene and then BANG! the show has started. No time to sit down and take in the theme song. These problems are mostly what you find during to prime time viewing. I won't even begin to explain the extreme commercial glut in late night and afternoon television.
YouTube and torrent sites have siphoned away a great many people from regular TV viewing because, guess what? They don't have to sit through a thousand commercials in order to get the content they actually want. There's nothing worse than being forced to wait through 6 or 7 commercials in a row.
Companies have to advertise but viewers are tired of the advertising abuse. So what to do? One of the better ideas to help this problem is product placement. Product placement isn't new by any means but it can be extremely effective in getting people's attention on a product. Perhaps there should be more of it. Instead of blasting people with loud and garish commercials they can watch their favorite movie and TV stars using a product which can influence them without turning them off.
Another way of combating the problem is creating an interesting commercial - something that is almost as entertaining as a show. The film shorts that BMW did a few years back is a high end example of this. The Super Bowl commercials are also a good example. The Geico commercials are another example of great commercials that catch people's attention and entertain them. Not all good commercials have to tell a story or be a series of mini-movies. Animation, good direction or a catchy song can also work well. The HBSC commercials that utilize one of Feist's songs (Gatekeeper) along with some nice animation is a good example. Mitsubishi did the same thing a few years ago. The more recent Ditech.com commercials are also a good example of interesting animation. Commercials don't have to be expensive or flashy to get people's attention nor do they have to be "everywhere". Good direction, good graphic design and the idea of "less is more" is really at the heart of the matter.
Less is more - One gets the feeling that many companies feel that if they aren't choking TV programming with commercials then no one knows about their product. This is actually hurting them. We don't need the amount of commercial programming being thrown at us today. It is actually chasing people away. I'd be willing to bet that if the amount of advertising we see were cut down by one third, people would stop tuning ads out and would be more willing to pay attention to advertising content when they DO see it. Less really is more. It would be nice if advertisers took it to heart.