Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Word About Our (Shrinking) Sponsors

Doesn't anyone ever advertise on television anymore?

That might seem like a foolish statement, because Lord knows our favorite TV programs are chopped up like stir-fry vegetables so that 2-3 minute commercial breaks can be added.

But the TV advertisement market seems to have been cornered by just a few categories: prescription drugs, beer, cars, car insurance and wireless gizmos. Those five seem to dominate 80% of the break time, with the remaining 20% scattered into far less significant groups.

Where are the cereal ads? Big Boy commercials? Laundry detergent ads? Candy and gum spots?

The memories of my youth, when it comes to ads on TV, keep pointing to iconic characters like Madge (Palmolive dish soap); the Tidy Bowl Man; Jack Guilford's old man in the "Cracker Jack" spots; Mr. Whipple (Charmin bath tissue); the folks on the boat singing about Faygo; and a plethora of cereal characters (Toucan Sam, Cap'n Crunch, the Trix rabbit, etc).

The commercials back then were typically 60 seconds in length, so the ad agency folks had much more time for character development over the course of their campaign. A 60-second Cap'n Crunch commercial could just about tell and entire story---while also keeping firmly in mind that it was cereal they were hawking.

Today's artsy-fartsy spots often leave you hanging as to what they're even advertising until the final few seconds.

I suppose Flo, the Progressive Insurance Girl, is an example of today's iconic characters of advertising. That's fine. At least those ads are plentiful in their variety. Who else is already sick of the wireless gizmo commercial with the two guys on the ski lift? And it's only been on the air for a few weeks.


Mr. Whipple!!


We used to see Madge a lot, working in her salon, dipping a unsuspecting woman's fingers into a bowl of Palmolive. That's true. But the women were different and even though the gist was the same and the catch phrases never changed, there was still an element of variety to the campaign.

Gone are the days when commercial catch phrases made their way into the public consciousness.

The last was probably the Wendy's spots with old Clara Peller, who crabbily asked, "Where's the beef?!"

Even George H.W. Bush stole it for political gain.

I am so tired of prescription drug ads. And, they make me angry, because I can't help but think that the cost of those ads are part of why their products' prices are ballooning.

Even Coke and Pepsi have given up; they don't advertise much anymore, either.

Thank goodness for YouTube, where you can easily get lost searching for and viewing classic TV commercials from various decades. What a treasure trove of nostalgia!

I now return you to your regularly scheduled blog...

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