April 27, 2001
There's a little game I play when watching
Instead of tuning out during the
commercials, I do the last thing they expect us to do - I actually
pay attention to them. You see, noticing what kind of commercials
they show during a program you tells you who they think should be
Companies spend big bucks to figure out
who's tuning in to what shows. They phone you in the middle of
dinner. They ask you questions in shopping malls. More time and
effort is put into market research for selling cars than there is
into most diseases. And that lets them sell advertising so they can
market the right products to the right audience. In other words,
telling us what products we can't live without.
Once you start paying attention to
commercials, it's kind of fun seeing who they think you are.
Start with the easy ones - sports events.
You'll notice the commercials are pretty much always about trucks
and beer. So you can figure they assume the people who watch sports
events are mostly manly men who are likely to buy trucks or beer. Or
maybe we supposed to drink a lot of beer and then go out and buy a
truck. Or if we already have a truck, we might drink a lot of beer,
wreck the truck, and have to buy another one. Either way, trucks and
beer are always somehow involved.
But notice you don't see a lot of truck
commercials during figure skating shows. What you do see are
commercials for mini-vans. That's because advertisers know it's a
different audience. Either they believe the people watching figure
skating are mostly women who are much more practical about their
transportation needs, or feel any man sitting on the couch next to
her has already given up the will to live. After all, the mini-van
is the symbol of man's complete and utter surrender to domesticity.
If you're a man and the show you're watching
seems to only have commercials for shampoo and feminine hygiene
products that are never fully explained, you should change the
channel immediately until you find something with police officers
beating on skinny, shirtless white guys. You'll know you've found
the right channel if all the commercials are for high cholesterol
You'll also notice that children's
programming and shows aimed at men have remarkably similar
commercials. In addition to ads for fatty snacks, microwave pizza
and sugary soft drinks, commercials for children and men tend to
only be fifteen to thirty seconds long. My wife says that's because
men and children have shorter attention spans. I say it's because…
Hey, what's that going by the window?
And if all the commercials in the show
you're watching are the ones where people congratulate themselves
for buying life insurance, adult diapers, home will kits, or beds
that adjust so you never have to leave them, then you should
definitely check your pulse.
So I'm going to watch my favorite TV show.
And I hope you don't think less of me because all the commercials
seem to be for fighting robot toys and cereal with enough sugar to
rot the teeth of a small nation.
Those ad guys don't know me at all.