Live Commercials Work Because They're Entertaining

from the advertising-is-content dept

One of the points we've been making for years is that advertising is content. That is, as people have more and more media options, advertisers can no longer assume they have a captive audience who will watch ads because they have nothing better to do. Rather, advertisers have to make their ads entertaining, so that people will want to watch them. The latest example of this is a New York Times article about how TV networks are bringing back the live commercial. For example, Jimmy Kimmel has been doing amusing live pitches for Nikon, Pontiac, and Quiznos on his late night show, and Jay Leno hosted a silly American Gladiators segment on his show to sell Klondike bars. Hollywood executives have a bad habit of viewing commercials as the spinach viewers have to eat in order to get the content they're actually interested in. But these examples illustrate that commercials don't have to be boring. With a little ingenuity, and funny pitchmen like Kimmel and Leno, commercials can be made interesting enough that consumers are actually interested in watching them. Part of the reason people hate commercials is that they're so repetitive, but live pitches can help break up the monotony by performing the pitch differently every time. And once commercials are actually interesting, the TiVo "problem" goes away, because even most consumers who have PVRs with commercial-skipping functions won't use them because they're actually interested in watching the commercials.

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Filed Under: ads, advertising is content, commercials, entertainment, live commercials, television


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  1. identicon
    Brian, 23 May 2008 @ 4:09am

    I'm not terribly keen on the idea. Ads would have to be pretty damn entertaining for me to tolerate them during whatever show I'm watching. I'd be surprised if many writers and producers who care about their art didn't object to dirtying their work this way as well.

    I'd almost rather them lump the commercials together like they do now so that I can ignore them completely and all together (which I realize is not conducive to effectiveness of the ad industry). However, that doesn't mean I don't think the idea presented in the article wouldn't work well if it was pulled off right. I do see a couple potential issues, though.

    First, companies tend to like to manage their own brands. In order to maintain fluidity through a TV show, advertisers would have to give up some, if not most of their content management rights. I'm sure there's a happy medium, but I doubt most companies will be able to find it. Brands will also likely have to find "partners" in shows who fit them well, too. This will limit choices.

    Second is cost. Advertisers still have to pay for time on air, but now both production teams (ad and TV show) have to work together in finding a way to constructively display an ad. No matter how I think of this, I can't imagine it being a quick and easy process.

    Anyway, before I write another essay, I'll close. I think this idea could become worthwhile, but it would personally piss me off. I also think advertisers would have to ingrain the idea into the next generation's brains. Make them think it's business as usual.

    -Brian, not involved in any aspect of entertainment, so go easy if you're some freaky obnoxious guru.

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