LA VALLEUR COMMUNICATES: Musings by Barbara La Valleur — TV Ads That Drive Me Crazy

If only the TV Add People Powers That Be would ask, I would be happy to tell them. I’m sure I could save them millions of dollars.

I’m talking about superannoying, insipid, TV ads that drive me up the wall. They certainly don’t have the intended affect to have me drive to the nearest shop to purchase what they’re selling!

I don’t have to Google “Top 10 Most Annoying TV ads” to list mine!

In an age where we actually PAY to watch tv ads — yes, I’m guilty of attending the British Arrow Awards at the Walker in December for years  plus the hourlong pre-Super Bowl program featuring a contest pitting funny ads against empathetic ones.

Press mute at first sight 

Some of the most annoying ads on my list: cold mucus;

  • Flo and Progressive Insurance.
  • Liberty Mutual.
  • Charmin.
  • Aflac (seriously, not goosed).
  • Geico.
  • Ensure, where inanimate objects — in this case a container of their liquid ‘health’ drink — are “talking”).
  • Haribo gummi Bärchen, a children’s candy in a “sophisticated business setting,” where all the adults are dubbed with kiddies’ annoying voices.
  • Car ads promoting dangerous driving.
  • And even Liberty Biberty showing a man although he’s driving, does not have his eyes on the road and is endangering two women in a car next to him by trying to hand them something. Really?

When the mildly annoying ads come on, I go make a pot of tea or a gin and tonic depending upon the time of day and/or take a bathroom break.

Stay and watch

Successful ads typically demonstrate affinity, compassion, affection, empathy, education or humor. Consider most — but not all — of Farmer’s Insurance ads. I like that they portray actual incidents albeit in a somewhat exaggerated way.  PBS has some good promo ads, too.

Can someone please explain why people in TV ads have to shout? 1-800-ASK You Know Who comes to mind. Where’s the mute button?!

As for repetition, do the advertisers really think it’s more effective if they show the exact same ad three minutes after the first airing? If I didn’t mute it the first time, I sure as heck mute it the second time.

Particularly annoying are talking animals, children promoting adult products, stupid, just plain stupid ads like Liberty ‘Biberty’ Mutual Insurance. And what about Hero drain ads showing clogged toilets inevitably shown over the dinner hour. Ugh. No! Or Adam’s Pest Control with people dressed up as large insects. Also no, just NO!

Some good ones

There are some good TV ads, for sure. Here are some I think fall into my “effective ads” category:

  • Facebook and CNN show empathetic photos with their messages.
  • FitBit Premium, also uses great photos.
  • Amazon and its thank-you ad for “Protect(ing) our People.”
  • And x-Finity using their employees to share their message.

Another favorite that always leaves me smiling is the one for Gains featuring “Alice,” a talented woman with an extraordinary array of facial expressions changing from delight to horror in seconds. I’d love to see her in a tv show.

Even though I said I don’t like talking animals, for some reason, I can watch the campfire scene with a a group of different dog breeds discussing their fears: “fleas! t-t-t-ticks and mosquitoooooooes!” over and over again, smiling every time!

Currently, though, my favorite dog featured ad features a pathetic-looking woofie who brings his owner first a plant, then a plunger and finally a neighbor’s bikini top in his chops. It doesn’t make me laugh, but it does have me remember the product: Seresto, not that I know what it’s for.

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