I was visiting my mother the other day and, like always, she had her TV on. Thankfully it wasn’t tuned into the normal entertainment “news” show. Although it was on a Lifetime Marathon of sappy xmas movies, so not much better.
One of the many things you can depend on this time of year are ads – lots and lots of ads. On your TV, in your mailbox, your inbox, on billboards, radio – everywhere. Many people abhor these messages, but I kind of love them for what they are; it’s probably the dormant sociologist in me. I see the ads not just as breaks from your show, but as the culmination of months worth of marketing teams working on crafting the perfect message to get you, the lowly consumer, to go out and buy their product or at least remember it’s name.
I think one part of ads that fascinates me in particular is the varying voices and points of view they come from, often times with very careful subtleties. For example, a cell phone ad aimed at a teen is going to have a different look and feel (sometimes subtle, if the agency creating it was on their game) than one aimed at a parent buying the same phone for a teen. Sure the eye rolling and exaggerated clothing (overly disheveled for the teen, overly prim & proper for the mom), but the tone and voice will be different for each ad for the targeted demo. Think of the 12 year old extolling the various benefits of having a cell phone to the newer ads showing Mom/Dad as the smarties for picking unlimited Family plans (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgFw7o5hQtc). Also of note, the Dad character often takes the bumbling parent role or sides with the kids.
Same goes for snack ads that show during a mom-targeted show rather than an afternoon cartoon block. A newer, mom-targeted Pop Tarts ad (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_ZXtRGlegE) done in sleek 3D animation, extolling the nutrition and ease of having your child wake up to a Pop Tart breakfast is much different than the stick-figure, shaky-line animation style with rather bizarre scripts (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0ZEX0q8B50) or the current UGC campaign they have running on YouTube, (http://www.youtube.com/kelloggspoptarts) both of which are targeted at kids.
Worth mentioning, the new and growing crop of esoteric ads makes me very happy. You have seen them – snarky, strange, usually nonsensical on some level (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQL7Xoe9egI or http://milkquarious.com/#/home). They used to be saved primarily for the Super Bowl audiences, but these types of ads are getting more prevalent during mainstream TV each year. They are clearly made for the teen through 30-something set, those raised on a steady diet of Simpsons, Family Guy, South Park and Cartoon Network. Of course this is not a new trend, as we were acknowledging the teen set as a purchase power demo 5+ years ago, but the tone of the ads has certainly changed for the better (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Spa_l_12cIw). The ads are getting much higher quality each year that goes by. My theory is that, as the younger generations continue to cycle into and rise up in the ranks at the different Marketing and Advertising agencies, we will continue get higher quality ads. Or maybe we are just, culturally, getting stranger. 😉
I always thought that the average person was aware of all of these carefully plotted moves. But the eye rolling and general quizzical looks from my family and friends when I go off on a tangent of appreciation and/or disgust about this, make me realize I may think about this more than the average person.
Seriously, though, you have to agree, the jewelry commercials this time of year are painful. Who are those couples? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltA50HKyM14)