Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Why are TV ads so infantile?

Every now and then we catch one or two TV ads as we try to fill the odd hour with something worth watching. We don’t usually find anything, but that’s another issue. The problem with TV ads seems to be that you have to switch off something in order to watch them. We switch off the sound, but I’m thinking of something else in addition to the sound.

To my mind we need to switch off our critical faculties if we are to watch TV ads without being constantly annoyed by them. Otherwise almost all of them would come across as too silly and infantile not to be annoying. Often very infantile with gormless adults bouncing around with delight in the way that only children are supposed to do in real life.

Advertisers may have some subtle reasons why silly ads are memorable and therefore effective, but I suspect it isn’t so. Surely infantile brand association isn’t what they are after. Not my field but banging out simple brand recognition and nothing else would presumably be easier.

TV ads seem to be all about mixed marriages too. Rather more of them than we see in the general UK population anyway. Of course we are familiar enough with ads projecting an entirely unreal world. We are also familiar with that unreal world being a heavily dumbed-down version of our world. Now the dumbing-down has a political message too.

You will never be allowed to grow up – buy stuff and live with it. That does seem to be the message.


DiscoveredJoys said...

I don't bother watching much TV - and especially adverts. My internet browsers mostly have adblockers.

My suspicion is that many adverts are 'Utopian', that is if you buy or use the advertised products your future will be better (somehow). That is also the left wing patter... people and things will be 'perfect' if only this or that obstacle is destroyed.

Life really is not like that. Some things could be made better but we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

A K Haart said...

DJ - I'm sure you are right, they are probably supposed to be Utopian. Maybe that is why they are so annoying for some people - if we are not affected by the Utopian message we just see them as annoying.

The Jannie said...

They are one reason why we record most things we want to watch - we whizz through the ads. Most are not only infantile: they are preaching that mixed race relationships are the norm. That's not true, of course, but why let the facts get in the way? After all, as one of my college lecturers remarked, Martini never, ever, advertised getting pissed on their products. It waa all pretty girls, dishy blokes and speedboats!

Sam Vega said...

I suspect the infantilism might be carefully crafted. It might tap into our childhood memories of being excited by the promise of something new, and the hope that parents might provide it. Although the rational part of our minds is making a cost-benefit analysis, something altogether more primitive is being stirred up by people jigging about, grinning like Cheshire Cats, and talking an ickle bitty bit of nonsense. As David Hume said, reason is only ever the slave to the passions. They've got to make us excited and vulnerable and hopeful before we reach for the credit card.

Andy5759 said...

There is a very simple explanation for your not seeing many mixed couples, or same sex ones for that matter. They are all busy in the film studios making commercials.

I used to work in the periphery of advertising, one thing was paramount: do not talk down to your audience. Look at company names, the new ones or the rebranded ones, you would be forgiven for thinking that they were toy makers. Actually they are, it's all toys now, instant gratification, release of endorphins.

Must go, lots of things to order from Amazing.

Tammly said...

Adverts have changed their style over the years I remember my dad fuming over their banality in the 60s. They've remained so. They reflect the fashionable nostrums of the day, in the 1980s with the emergence of second wave feminism, all women were depicted as wise and intelligent and all men were childish, bumbling idiots. After there was an influx of 'art' so car adverts no longer explained the technical virtues of the model but implied the supposed life style benefits or merely in surrealist form, they copied that from the the more innovative cigarette advertisers who had no choice. But I think a constant over five decades has been the majority of ads have to be sold with weak humour.

A K Haart said...

Jannie - wasn't Milk Tray pretty girls, dishy blokes and speedboats too? The age of advertising romance perhaps.

Sam - I remember being excited about my next Airfix kit, but after that the excitement faded. It's probably an age thing.

Andy - you are right - it is all toys now. Particularly electronic gadgets and computer games. That's one I don't understand at all - computer games. They seem dull and repetitive to me.

Tammly - from what I see, women are still depicted as wise and intelligent while men are bumbling idiots. Maybe women make the spending decisions.