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Guest column | Jim Aylward

The TV lines advertisers are happy to stick in our minds

When I was a kid my head was full of things I heard on radio. I'd walk around mumbling them to myself. Things like "The Shadow knows.'' "Tain't funny, McGee!'' And, "It floats.''

Today, all grown up, I walk around mumbling things I heard on TV. "Mary Hart is off tonight.'' Or, "You're gonna like the way you look. I guarantee it.''

Repetition. Repetition. Repetition.

It doesn't meant these things are true or even necessary. They're just bits of phrases we hear repeatedly until they lodge in our receptive minds.

Suddenly, we're singing a phone number for a floor covering company and wondering why. Madison Avenue is happy and we are brainwashed with these insistent brushes.

A commercial is on the tube and in the commercial the doorbell rings. I go to my front door and there's nobody there. Thank you, ad executives.

We always remember things because of advertising. I remember when a new upstart company introduced a cola to compete against the original giant. That original was in its curvy, small bottle, just seven ounces. The new cola, in a 12-ounce bottle, offered the jingle "Twice as much for a nickel, too.'' Everybody was singing it. It was just in the air.

Today, Madison Avenue doesn't always hit a home run. I find commercial after commercial in which I have no idea what they're selling or trying to sell. The spot is obviously expensive. There are little dogs in it. The family in it is happy and attractive, but I don't know what the product is. There's a funny spot in there somewhere, but where's the name? What is this thing?

Sometimes, as in a new local commercial for an eatery, the name of the place is barely featured. In fact, there's a bit of confusion because the people in the commercial are all wearing T-shirts with names on them, but not the name of the sponsor. What? The agency knows the name, and so evidently they think we must know too. We don't.

There is a continuous commercial now on TV for a men's clothing store that always has a sale. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Wednesday, they have a one-day-only sale. ''Buy one suit, get any two suits free.'' To me, if they have to have a sale every day, they must have a problem. It's almost like they're going out of business, but they won't.

I don't wear suits anymore. Or ties. I used to. When I first came to the big city, there was a national clothing chain bearing a man's name, and specializing in cheap suits. I didn't have much money then, so I bought one there and managed to look like I was a guy who didn't have much money and was wearing a cheap suit. I guarantee I didn't like the way I looked.

When I was a bit richer, I went to a department store and bought something better. And what it is with those ads for referral to a lawyer?

Ask Tom. Ask Dick. Ask Harry. Why would I do that when I could ask a lawyer directly?

I'd like to chat more about all of this, but my doorbell is ringing.

Jim Aylward lives in New Port Richey.

The TV lines advertisers are happy to stick in our minds 09/21/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 21, 2010 9:21pm]

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