JULY 10, 2012 LEGENDTORIAL ~ But First a Word From Our Sponsors
by: Tim Leeming
If you watched the Fourth of July Parade on TNT Saturday night, also referred to as The Coke Zero 400, you saw what was billed as wide open racing. The “Wide Open” referred to the way TNT handled the commercial breaks by including the commercials in a small box in the middle of the television screen where you could still see the racing action while listening to voice-overs giving you information for which most race-watchers are so desperate. More than one opinion of the TNT coverage, wide-open or not, calls for language not usually acceptable in mixed company so let’s leave it at that. To designate the race as anything to do with “Zero” could not have been more grammatically correct, for, other than tearing up more than two dozen race cars in some really horrendous wrecks, the event consisted of an inside row of cars staying in a parade line and the outside line, which could never quite catch up, staying in a parade line. Call it what they will, but that was not racing.
The point of tonight’s Legendtorial is not, however, to complain about the poor performance on the race track but to talk about commercials. Yes, commercials. An advertiser on local radio has an ad running that states the average consumer, between radio and television advertisements, will be subjected to 3,000 advertisements in an average day. That commercial, on radio mind you, goes on to say that an advertiser would be better off to use print media for advertising. Somehow, the message is lost in the essence of that radio commercial, but, hey, that may just be me. It is a fact that if you watch ANYTHING on TNT, you are likely to be subjected to 3,000 commercials per hour. Ann and I are big fans of Dallas and when TNT brought the series back this summer, we eagerly anticipated catching up with J.R. Ewing and the gang. Instead, watching an episode of Dallas now involves 7 minutes of show, then 5 minutes of commercials. After the first 30 minutes, it is then 6 minutes of show and 7 minutes of commercials. You can even forget how dastardly J.R. can be by the time you watch all the junk paraded before you.
My youngest grandson, Michael, who turns 9 in August, absolutely detests commercials. He spends the weekend with Ann and me from time to time and when he does, he is in charge of the remote control. We watch what he wants to watch although it gets very confusing trying to keep up with the shows because when a commercial break comes, he immediately hits another channel. I must admit that, although it confuses me, I get used to not having to watch commercials when he’s here.
Now, getting to the meat of the issue, here is my take on marketing. I have several friends involved in marketing and I am, by no means, degrading any of them. I am well aware that advertising is necessary to the purveyor of the goods and services and is equally necessary to pay the freight for radio, television, magazines, newspapers and even our efforts here on Zeus Radio Network. There are many honorable and pleasant advertisers but it gets on my last nerve when marketing folks assume that most people who will be watching a race are so ignorant, the commercials must reflect that to appeal to those folks. So, I am here tonight to take those folks to task for the insults.
I will start this tirade with one of my most favorite industries to disparage… Insurance Companies. I have personal reasons for my strong dislike of insurance companies but I would point out to you listeners that if you see those “good hands people” you can bet those hands are trying to get into your bank account but are never there to pay off when you have a claim or, at the least, you will be treated as though you are the lowest life form on the planet for making a claim to begin with. As for the “good neighbors”, just wait on those folks to help you. Again, they want the premiums but don’t hold your breath waiting to settle a valid claim. As for those folks, “on your side”, really? And what about the company who wants us to believe they dress their agents in “fire suits” except for the one misinformed individual who gets sprayed with the fire extinguisher. Remember when their driver was the main focus of the good hands people? And, if you really consider buying insurance from a little green lizard, go for it. You deserve what you get. Problem is, our governments force the insurance on us, but when you think about the $millions the aforementioned companies spend on advertising, it is not small wonder they fight paying claims with such vigor. It does somewhat amaze me that insurance companies advertise to race fans, who are more apt, I think, to speed than the average baseball fan.
I started a list two weeks ago, of commercials during races I deem to be the most insulting and the most aggravating to listen to. That list contains 21 commercials so in the interest of time, I’ll limit it to the five commercials I detest the most. I will NOT give these advertisers free plugs by mentioning their names, but if you watch races, you’ll have no problem identifying these advertisers.
NUMBER 5 most irritating: The inappropriately dressed insurance agent getting doused with a fire extinguisher by one of NASCAR’s drivers. I do think the agent so doused has a better looking firesuit than those other agents.
NUMBER 4 most irritating: A young female driver stands on pit road with a popular driver icon of the sport and will use him to show us how things vanish. The commercial ends with the irritating screeching voice calling out for the guy she just shooed away. I have noticed, in those commercials, that the young female appears to be somewhat bow-legged. Watch it next time and see if you agree.
NUMBER 3 most irritating: A cell phone company that advertises it’s truly unlimited data plan in a series of commercials. The one about electronic music downloads is obnoxious, but the one with the high school graduate lamenting the cat video taking up too much space on his mom’s phone grates on my nerves.
NUMBER 2 most irritating: One of NASCAR’s super star drivers is called into the pits at the end of the day and the crew totally revamps the car into a street version of the manufacturer’s flagship entry which is immediately smoking the front tires as it leaves the pit and heads out on the highway. I find it most interesting that the highway, BOTH SIDES, are deserted. Seems like that young man has a reputation of careless highway driving so they can’t put him on the highway with citizens. Oh, and have I already mentioned screeching voices? The young man singing to the car radio in that commercial is enough to make me reach of the mute button.
NUMBER 1 most irritating: A very masculine voice begins by telling us that “truckers know that hauling 9 tons up a steep grade is work”. Really? Then he goes on to tell us how this truck has a super “Tranny” to handle such a task. I truly always thought a “Tranny” was one of those guys in San Francisco who dresses in womens’ clothes and paints up his face. Always fascinates me that those folks couldn’t find a steep enough grade without building the tower used. It would be a far more entertaining commercial to watch that guy back that pickup and trailer back down that tower!
Ok, you folks make your own list and post them on the site. I would like to know what you think. As I’ve already stated, I am aware commercials are necessary. Seems to me that back in the day a commercial usually said something important. We knew what STP did. We knew why Dale Earnhardt wore Wranglers. Now we are left to believe that for the want of the last soft drink in a convenience store, a driver will give up a Cup car to a guy who probably never drove anything with more than 200 horsepower but who can now do Kyle Busch quality burnouts in his cul-de-sac. I won’t even go into the drug commercials that contain the disclaimers of all the side effects, many of which include “even death”. Makes you want to run right to your doctor and get a prescription for that one.
Tonight, I won’t even go into the falsity of most of the “As seen on TV” products. When Ann and I were first married 30 years ago, we fell for one of those when we needed to establish our housekeeping with new cookware. We ordered some of that from television and to call it pure junk would be too complimentary. Recently, we purchased one of those magnetic screens from the “As Seen on TV” store. When I took it out of the box to install it, I had to laugh. Pure junk. Absolutely worthless for anything. Those magnets are the weakest magnets ever produced, if, indeed, those are magnets.
I do find some commercials entertaining. The Super Bowl commercial with the kid using his “force” to manipulate a certain car in the drive way was awesome. I still enjoy seeing that. Perhaps it is because I can imagine a kid experiencing that and marveling at his perceived powers.
One commercial I have never forgotten and never will, is Dinah Shore ending her show each week with “See the USA in your Chevrolet; American is asking you to call” and then throwing that kiss to the audience. For you younger folk who don’t know who Dinah Shore was, Google her. She was a class act on early television. Back when an hour show contained less than 6 minutes of commercials.
My favorite all time commercial, without reservation, was done by Lucy Ricardo for “Vitameatavegamin”. You won’t find that one on any product list but that commercial brought home the point that you have to be careful what and how you advertise. Give me some Vitameatavegamin and I’ll be ok.
The Legendtorial was brought to you by: (Jeff fills this in, I have no clue.) But you can bet I won’t endorse it or recommend it, unless I’ve used it and am pleased with it. And I don’t needed a dedicated cooling system for the local tranny, to make that decision.
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(Editor’s note: Tim Leeming is a member of the regular cast of the Tuesday evening racing show ” Racing Through History”, presented on Zeus Radio Network by RacersReunion®. Archives can be found by following the link. Live broadcasts can be heard from 7:00-9:00 PM every Tuesday. Please feel free to join us in the RacersReunion® Chat Room for the show.)