Saturday, May 21, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Commercials

Week #21 – Commercials

Week 21. Commercials. Do you remember any commercial jingles from your childhood? Share them here.
This challenge runs from Saturday, May 21, 2011 through Friday, May 27, 2011.

WHERE'S THE BEEF?  Remember that series of Wendy's commercials?  They were so popular that it was national news when the little old lady in them died a few years ago, many years after the campaign had been off the air.  

Commercials are designed to get us to know and remember brands and products, and the experts on Madison Avenue are extremely good at making those things stick in our heads.  So good that even decades later, we still remember the product, company and even the jingle that was associated.  When you think of Alka Seltzer, your brain starts singing, "Plop plop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is!", doesn't it?  That campaign debuted back in the black and white days of television, at least 40 years ago.

Conspicuously absent from my childhood was advertising for cigarettes, which had been common just a few years earlier.  In fact, The Flintstones were originally sponsored by tobacco companies!  By the time I got old enough to see and remember commercials, those had been banned from television and radio.  Also missing were ads for hard liquor, which were allowed in magazine print ads, but not over the airwaves.  And it's only been the last 10-15 years where pharmaceutical advertising has been allowed as well.

I remember far too many old commercials from my youth, and I will not repeat them all here.  I am of the opinion that Madison Avenue has got us all trained to accept that they have the right to insert their messages anywhere and everywhere, and we do not have the right to say no.  They work very hard to find ever more ways to insert their insidious messages into every corner of our lives.  Ever wonder why so many computers on TV and movies are Apple Macintoshes?  Apple makes it very easy for the studios to use their trademark apple logos and products, where some other computer brands demand licensing.  Noticed one of your favorite TV shows has an abundance of a particular product showing up in it?  That company paid for product placement.  

It's getting worse, too.  Older TV shows were filmed and edited to fit a certain number of minutes per hour of program, with breaks for a certain number of minutes of commercial messages.  But those shows need to be re-edited for reruns, as there are now more minutes of commercials per hour than there were in the past.  So we lose some of the content of those old shows to new commercials.  Who decides what gets cut?

Don't get me wrong, some commercials I remember were very funny and entertaining!  I enjoyed them when they ran, and I still recall them with friends on occasion.  I'm not saying all commercials are bad, and I understand that the advertisers subsidize things like television and radio programming in return for inserting the advertisements at the commercial breaks.  It's what makes radio and over-the-air TV "free".  But when advertisers start planning to insert advertisements into the ebooks on our Kindle readers, I feel they've gone too far.  When billboards are lighted and capable of playing video, that's too distracting for drivers on the road.  When advertisements like wall posters have the capability to "target" me because of something I am carrying, or other identification schemes, that's too invasive.  This isn't science fiction; all of these are proven technologies that have been tested in the real world, and are in use today.  And it's only getting worse.

Okay, that was far too much of a rant, so I'll stop.  Suffice to say, I remember the advertisements all too well.  How about you?