Monday, May 21, 2012

Putting the Tivo in reverse.

         Joe Queenan has a terrific idea in his WSJ column: a DVR that keeps the commercials and skips some of the idiotic TV programs.

        Queenan explains how he loves some of the commercials on TV these days. He includes the Dos Equis' "Most Interesting Man in the World" and the E*Trade talking baby.

         "If I could only fast-forward cliche-spouting actors, lying politicos, Wolf Blitzer, and college softball", he moans.

          I'm not sure I agree with him about what to skip (I like Wolf Blitzer), but I do agree that there seems to be a lot more thinking in some 30-second TV commercials than in some 30-minute programs.

          It's an important concern for us in advertising. As the TV shows go, so go our media plans and our work. If there's little worthwhile to turn on the TV set for, advertising will suffer. Just as the television networks can't produce programs without advertising to pay for them, so too our advertising can't produce results without audiences.

          And another thing. Why can't a network like NBC boost itself out of last place? My hunch is that it keeps trying to do what it did last year, only better, instead of trying to do something nobody did last year, only great.

          Is the greatest amount of creativity in television in the commercials these days? That's pretty sad. Then maybe we should go back to the way it used to be, where sponsors would buy the time on TV and ad agencies would produce the shows. (That's how I got to meet Groucho Marx. He was hired to do a Christmas show for a cosmetics client.)

          Maybe all the creativity in the media business has been siphoned into social media. People are really good at cellphone apps and a little sluggish on the sit-coms.

          What if a TV network biggie said, "No sit-coms next year. And that goes for you hospital dramas, reality shows, and courtroom shows as well!" Would we get whole new genres of shows --- or would NBC simply rack up the reruns and go on vacation?

           I've got an idea. Why don't we just take a TV commercial like "The Most Interesting Man in the World" and turn it into a new television series. By definition it can't be boring.

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