Television Commercials: for or against?

September 24, 2016

Children TV

“But first a few words from our sponsors” and those few words are turning into more and more. There are also more and more commercial interruptions and they never say excuse me when they interrupt.

Most people ignore this rudeness and use commercials as snack breaks and toilet trips, but no one gets a beer or flushes one down the toilet during the Super Bowl. They don’t want to miss seeing horses play football or the nerd getting the pretty girl because of the car he drives.

Not all commercials are entertaining. Some are educational and contain fifteen, thirty or sixty seconds of possibly life-changing information.

Last night I watched a police drama. Forty-four minutes of it were drama. The other sixteen minutes were commercials. Because I’m not planning a life of crime – unless sneaking snacks into movie theaters is a crime – I learned more from the commercials than I did from the program.

I learned I use the wrong toothpaste, take the wrong pain reliever and have the wrong mutual fund. Buying these products might not make me a social success, but they’d definitely make me a commercial success.

Health and success are mutually exclusive when it comes to Saturday morning television. Most of what’s advertised is sugar-coated and causes cavities and obesity. Unfortunately, we don’t know what damage is caused by the sugar-coated, cartoon violence these products sponsor.

For adults commercials can cause financial damage. The “reach out and touch someone”, telephone commercials reached out and touched the budget. On one call to my grandmother I sang “Happy Birthday” as soon as she answered. Later when I asked the wrong number why she’d let me sing the whole song, she said she wished her grandchildren called her. That caused more calling – more reaching out.

Fortunately, not all commercials that touch me emotionally touch the budget. I don’t like beer, but I like beer commercials. I laugh at the ones with ex-jocks arguing the merits of a particular beer. I tear when I see Clydesdale horses pulling a sleigh – complete with bells – through a winter scene.

However, the insurance commercial that shows a man taking an unexpected escalator ride up to heaven is not only depressing, it’s also deceiving. Not all departing men take escalator rides up. Because many commercials are unrealistic, they should be taken with a grain of salt – but things go better with Coke.

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