You know how certain phrases stick in your head? A lot of them are from advertising. “Just do it”? “You deserve a break today”? “It’s the real thing”?
It’s insidious! Advertisers literally take things and stick them in your head. That’s why I stopped watching commercial television ten years ago, and my mind has become a clearer, quieter place.
I watch movies instead. Sadly, theatres started running ads before the movies about thirty years ago, and it’s gotten much, much worse, but I try to arrive during the previews to avoid them. It’s especially sad to see advertising before something that you already paid for. Pretty sleazy on their parts.
Netflix and iTunes are pretty cool–no ads at all, at least not now.
Talking about phrases getting stuck in your head, here’s one I heard when I was a kid: “We’ll be back in sixty seconds”. That was sixty seconds of advertising. Some years later, in the early 80’s if I recall correctly, Tom Snyder, who hosted the Late Late Show, would say, “We’ll be back in two minutes and ten seconds.” That’s twice as long! And it’s gotten longer and more frequent.
Back in the mid-sixties, a one hour television program was actually only 50 minutes long with 10 minutes of advertising: one sixth or a little under 17%. Now, a one hour television program is only 43 minutes long with 17 minutes of advertising–close to twice as much! When you watch a commercial television program, a little under 29% is advertising–that’s almost one third!
People are voluntarily watching entertainment where, almost one third of the time, advertisers are sticking phrases in their heads!
That’s almost unbelievable!
But believe it because it is happening. How did this come about? The advertisers slowly acclimated us to it. Over the course of fifty or so years, they slowly raised the time given over to commercials so that it seemed normal to us. If you haven’t already heard it dozens of times, think of a frog in a pot of water: if you raise the temperature slowly enough, the frog will not jump out; it will just sit there until it cooks.
The same process is now happening on Youtube. (See, I finally got to it.)
Youtube used to be completely commercial free, and it was pretty cool. You could see lots of interesting and useful things there. Now advertising is creeping in, and I am creeping out.
Can’t fool me, Google! (They own it.)
They’re doing the old frog-in-the-pot routine, but I’ve spotted it and have responded accordingly. They bought out Youtube, and are busy introducing advertising where previously there was none, and it’s really, really sneaky.
First, they made advertising optional at the beginning of some videos, then more and more. A commercial starts, but there is a little box at the bottom right that says, “You can skip the add in 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . skip add.” Obviously, they are hoping that you will get hooked at some point during the countdown and watch the rest.
After a while, they started introducing commercials in that same format during the course of longer videos. Now, they are placing commercials at the beginnings of some videos that do not have the “skip” function, so you have to watch the whole 20 or 30 second commercial if you want to watch the video.
The end result will be – drum roll, please! – commercial television.
I have no intention of watching THAT.
Television could have been a noble medium, but it was taken over by commercial interests whose only interest is taking your money by programming you to buy things. It is finally realising its true potential through internet services like iTunes and Netflix where you pay money to watch content – free of brainwashing.
Meanwhile, the cancer of commercials is metasticising onto Youtube, a formerly free content provider, and as we all know, cancer may or may not kill you, but it certainly won’t do you any good.
Youtube, you just lost a viewer.