Service of Surefire Inducements to Channel Surf–Irritating Commercials

May 6th, 2024

Categories: Advertising, Annoying, Commercials, Irritating

Some advertisers want me to run for my remote control to move away from the station I’m on. That’s what happens the second I hear their viscerally irritating commercials.

This isn’t the first time I’ve covered the subject. In 2018 I berated the forced laughter in 1-800-I-Got Junk radio commercials that put me on edge. Then there was an E*Trade ad designed to scare 30-somethings to save now or end up like the 85-year-olds depicted dropping heavy packages and dragging weighty fire hoses to the music of a favorite Harry Belafonte tune, “Banana Boat Song.” In that post I praised NYU Langone hospital and State Farm for their pleasing adverts.

The year before my tooth-grinding hit list included My Pillow, Flip this House and Kars4Kids.

There were a few posts going back to 2014 about false advertising, such as DirectTV offering a cheap subscription for a year without noting it was contingent on a two-year contract. I wrote about some goofs such as Bud Light’s label boast “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night. #UpForWhatever,” which some interpreted as condoning rape, and off-putting company name choices—CheapOair was one.

Rereading something I wrote in 2011 made me laugh again. My husband had shown me a full-page ad in the Sunday New York Times Book Review section that left out a crucial piece of information: Who the book was about! There was a photo of a past American President on the featured book cover, but the face wasn’t familiar to my husband who had read thousands of pages of American history and had a great memory. The title included the word President–but not which one. The ad had room for plenty of copy–the usual praise such as “gripping” and “compulsive reading” to “harrowing and fascinating saga” and “crackling tale of suspense.” Mistakes happen.

Here are a few current examples of commercials that grate on my ears these days:

  • Haribo gummi candies lead the list. Those whiney children’s voices coming out of the mouths of grownups—whether fictitious sports or business figures—hurt.
  • TMI—too much information—is what nauseates me when I am subject to all body deodorant commercials like the one for Mando. I keep thinking: Here’s a bar of soap–now take a shower. Click.
  • Four women singing the Kellog’s Club Crackers riff—especially the last woman who takes it away while the others laugh. So annoying.

I wonder if before accepting the ads the stations weigh the income against loss of viewers as often, I don’t return once I’ve moved on to another show. Are there any commercials that cause you to run from the room, turn off the sound or click to another station?

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12 Responses to “Service of Surefire Inducements to Channel Surf–Irritating Commercials”

  1. TC Said:

    JEANNE, YES, INDEED! TV HAS BECOME UNACCEPTABLE TO US BECAUSE OF ITS USING ADS TO DOMINATE SHOW TIME. NOT ONLY THAT, THE ADDS MOSTLY ARE RIDICULOUS AND MIND NUMBINGLY REPETITIVE. STREAMING OBVIOUSLY HAVING EFFECT IN POOR OUTDATED SHOWS. AND OFFERING PAY-PER-VIEW ALTERNATIVES NOT GOING TO MOVE THE NEEDLE. IF CONTINUES, NOT SURPRISED IF LUCRATIVE TV SALES FACE COME-UPANCE. WOE IS US. MAyBE BACK TO THE PRE-TV DAYS WHEN WE WERE USED TO OTHER MEANS OF SELF ENTERTAINING.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    TC,

    I admit to watching many reruns of “Blue Bloods,” “Law and Order,” [especially with Jerry Orbach] and I discovered a show I missed its first time around–“Bull.” I often do the dishes; finish making dinner or perform other chores during the commercials. Otherwise, I find some good programs on Netflix. I have friends who subscribe to so many platforms on which they see any number of other good shows they tell me about. I fear my time and checkbook would be overwhelmed by following suit.

  3. ASK Said:

    I generally mute commercials for prescription drugs. (I don’t believe pharma cos. should have been allowed to advertise; the Jardiance ad is particularly annoying.) Whole body deodorants (Really necessary? I’ve met few people in business or socially who could clear a room) and personal care products are also irritating. As someone who has suffered from skin allergies throughout my life, I recall several dermatologists telling me too many Americans took too many showers stripping their skin of vital oils.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    ASK,

    I wish I’d thought of the Jardiance commercial as it should have been on my list. Most of the health-related commercials are enough to make folks swear off any and all medicines, even those that save their lives. The side effects pharma is forced to mention are beyond scary.

  5. Hussein Ahman Uttah Said:

    Any ad that uses ad-speak, – phrases that no human being has ever used or would ever use in real life. Such as “I have moderate to severe…….”

    Or ad-pronunciation , such as pronouncing an A like an R, such as Rquafresh.

    In our family we mute all pharma commercials when they start reading out in detail the tiny piece of white paper that everyone throws away with a prescription.

    I can mute a dupixent commercial before they get to the fourth word!

  6. Lucrezia Said:

    Life is way too short to let a commercial act as an irritant. My favorites are Red Bull cartoons and the colorful M&M characters. If annoyed, there’s always something needing attention away from the TV. I forgot the particularly unpleasant and long-winded Colonial Penn ad. The good old mute button comes into play!

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Hussein,

    I’m laughing at your astute observation about language. Moderate to severe! Hilarious! The copywriter was no doubt fortunate to have suffered from neither a splinter, headache, sore throat or stomach cramp so that he/she had never been asked by a parent, teacher, nurse, doctor or friend. “How would you describe your pain?” Answer “moderate to severe.” I think people use numbers..pain from one—low—to 10.

    Americans love British accents so marketers of luxury goods and services must hire such for voiceovers. Example Viking Cruise. (Truth: it’s not the accent that makes me want to take one of those cruises. I’ve heard they are glorious.Winning lottery ticket please!)

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    Commercials should be no longer than 30 seconds.

    As I write I just remembered “Help I fell and I can’t get up!” I’m off the station by the p in help.

  9. Lucrezia Said:

    That ad dates back to the dinosaurs with a format which has barely changed over time! Mrs. DE Reineck said she was interested in buying into the service, but changed her mind after they asked over $5,000.00 up front.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    Holy smokes! Five big ones? Two friends tell me that their iPhone watch knows if they fall. One said she fell at home and a voice asked if she was OK! I have no clue what the watch or service cost. No doubt it makes a dent on the “Help! I can’t get up” business.

  11. Deb Wright Said:

    I loathe the commercial for an insurance company–Allstate–that warns people to sign up as a protection against “mayhem like me.” This ad campaign started years ago, replacing a dignified actor who calmly explained why it was good to be insured by said company. The new actor displays obnoxious and cruel behavior, such as deliberately causing car accidents, putting on makeup and lipstick and making comments about how stupid people are, jumping on cars, setting off fire hydrants, etc. The latest one shows the actor tormenting his own brother. But if you buy this insurance, you will be protected from “mayhem.”

    I wrote to the insurance company, explaining why this was so distasteful to me. To my surprise, I actually got a phone call! The representative from the company thanked me for the letter! He also said that I wasn’t the only viewer who complained about the change of actors and the new direction of advertising. I then received a letter in the mail thanking me for my input. All that being said, this obnoxious commercial continues with new material that is violent and supposed to be funny.

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Deb,

    Good for you for going to the trouble to share your disgust and for Allstate for responding.

    Unfortunately, the fact that the company continues to pursue this angle shows how well it works. The ad agencies have remarkable and accurate ways of judging the effectiveness of their commercials. Clearly, the ugly approach sells. It shows you where we are these days. Makes me so sad.

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