I work in advertising but hate watching commercials. Trust me, the irony of this is not lost on me. Advertising pays my mortgage, but I can’t bear to sit through them. I am a notorious channel flipper and usually watch shows on a ten minute DVR delay so I can rock the 30 second skip button. Eight “skips” and an 8 second jump back and you are painlessly through a commercial break. I love you TiVo.
But I understand that ads need to exist. Television programming isn’t free and the relatively modern phenomenon of product placement, while usually ham-handed, is something I can live with. There are logos and products front-and-center in the latest TV shows, video games and feature films and they are here to stay. And I don’t really mind that the talking heads on American Idol are all drinking giant Cokes. (Or rum and Coke, as the case may be. I’m looking at you Ms. Abdul.) Or that Jack Bauer’s crew at CTU used Cisco-brand communications devices that bailed them out of a jam every week.
But programmers have taken things one step further. It has gone from mildly obtrusive to infuriating and I’m sure that it is the wave of the future… actors directly pitching products in the context of the story. It has already gained a foothold in daytime soaps, where Days of Our Lives has been shoehorning in spots for Cheerios, Midol, and Chex Mix for a while now. And they have made the move to prime time, where Subway saw huge response to their in-story product pimping on NBC’s Chuck. I get what they are trying to do, but it still feels like pandering. Unfortunately, it is having the exact opposite effect on me and I feel like I need to let the networks and advertisers know how I feel.
So from this day forward, I will not be watching Days of Our Lives or taking Midol anymore. You have my word on it.