When Production Values Compete with Interest, You Lose

When my daughter was quite young, she loved watching Mary Poppins on a VHS player. “Poppins! Mama. Poppins!” was the cry. While VHS morphed into DVDs and ultimately into Netflix and other streaming services, her love of movies has remained constant. But I remember well the first time she watched a television show with commercial breaks. She screamed. She just could not figure out why the story kept stopping.

            I have something of the same feeling as I watch “Morning Joe” at the gym. I want to scream when the same commercials come on day after day. I understand the need for the interruptions, not just the repetitive, continuous loop of the same commercials over and over again. I avoid network entertainment shows at night opting for Amazon Prime, Netflix and HBO, not only for the amazing quality of their programming, but also because, well, the fall off to repetitive-to-the-point-of-irritation-and-avoidance commercial interruptions prompt such a nose bleed.

            No. It’s not that the commercials aren’t gorgeously filmed. They are.

            It’s more that if we’re watching MSNBC each morning we’re seeing them over and over. Yes, the cost of such productions is enormous, from a financial as well as managing messaging risk perspective. Tremendous on- and off-camera talents, tremendous legal fees to bullet-proof, tremendous research costs to make sure there’s no offense: The desire is to get a lot of ‘wear’ out of each commercial. Instead of the Old School three or four iteration pool out in a campaign, it seems now there’s just the one. Over and over again. And then again.

            I just look away to reduce the grating. I’m trapped on the bike; I can’t leave. But I send my mind away. At such a moment, I think if the news can change moment by moment, why can’t the ads? We’ve got the best cameras, editing equipment, artistic talents and marketers on the planet to draw from, why can’t these 15- and 30-second productions generate enough entertainment quality to sustain interest through multiple pathways into the message?

            It is doable: The fellow who seems to understand it is the guy who sells PCMatic, right? Nearly every couple of days there’s a new message from him, sometimes extolling the virtues of his product, sometimes of his approach to building a ‘work from home’ business (gotta love that chopping tomatoes with his wife scene, right?), sometimes explaining why the world needs the equivalent of MPG way of ranking virus protection effectiveness. See. I pay attention.

            Speed to market, people. We’ll forgive the occasional hiccup or bad wardrobe choice in favor of made fresh daily. Big Pharma, I’m talking to you. And Big Cola, too. Don’t think you’re getting away with it, Big Banks and Mind-Numbingly Equivalent Big Investment Firms.


P.S.     Thank you to everyone who shared the best alternative to LensCrafters, last week. I get it: Warby Parker. Crisis solved.