This may just be me, but it seems like there’s a… I can’t tell if it’s insidious or clever… trend to make commercials appear similar to the shows during which they air. I noticed it first during an episode of “Lost.” I noticed it because my wife and I almost always time-shift our viewing of the episode due to having young children and a band that needs to practice. As we watch it, we usually *blip*blip*blip* and fast forward through the commercials.
During this time, images flash in rapid succession as you speed through the marketing messages. Your eyes are glued to the screen as the bright, shiny ads fly past doing their jittery dance. Then, you see a frame that’s the same palette with similar scenery and character types, so you hit the play button, only to find out it’s an ad for propecia, or something… Even if you’re astute enough to avoid returning to real time for the clip, your attention returns to the screen since you’re tuned into the content. During that brief moment when you’ve returned your attention to the screen, the logo pops on the screen and you’ve notched another unit for “brand awareness.”
I actually first noticed this happening back in the X-Files days. Back then, I assumed it was an attempt for advertisers to appeal to the viewers’ neo-noire sensibilities. I’m thinking of the black trench-adorned Sprint pitchman. I think that may have actually been the case back then. Now, I can see where advertisers looked at the problem that most viewers are only seeing every 89.91th frame of their marketing investment, and thought, “How can we grab a piece of the attention pie under those circumstances?”
I’m not sure this is even happening, but I noticed it during a recent episode of “Modern Family,” as well. If it is happening, I’m not sure if it’s actually effective, since I can’t remember the brands that seem to be doing this. However, it seems to be more than a coincidence. If any of you have noticed the same phenomenon, let me know in the comments.