I’ve been watching a lot of TV lately. OK, not a lot of TV for the average American: According to a 2003 Census bureau survey the average American watch 145 hours of TV per month. That’s 4.8 hours per day. Stats from the AC Nielsen company say that the number of hours per day that TV is on in an average U.S. home is 6 hours, 47 minutes. But a lot for me which is about 5 hours a week.
Because I’ve been watching more TV I’ve been seeing more commercials and some of the things I’ve been seeing perplex me. One of them is the new campaign for the Toyota Highlander.
One of the commercials in this campaign a blond 10 year-old boy talks directly to the camera about how kids don’t want to be seen in “dorky” cars but sometimes parents just don’t know better. It’s not a bad approach. Most middle-aged parents, whether they acknowledge it or not, don’t like the idea of being…well…middle-aged parents. How else can you explain the existence of the “sport cross,” a class of American car that proports to meld the sports car and a small SVU to create a vehicle that is both stylish and suitable for hauling kids around?
But what’s scary about this approach is that it makes it acceptable for kids to be brand conscious at an age young enough to seem unreasonable to me. That may be because I don’t know a lot about how important that stuff is to kids these days and I can only make judgements based on how much I cared about brands and fitting in when I was a younger kid.
The other one that perplexes me lately is a commercial I’ve been trying to figure out most of the summer. The Schick Hydro includes some sort of lubricating gel right in the razor head. Never having shaved my face, I can only guess at the value of this from a practical perspective. What puzzles me, though, is the association of violent sports – a boxer being hit in the face, a soccer player heading the ball down the field – with shaving. What perplexes me even more is the scene in this commercial that apparently equates foreplay with a female sex partner with that same sporting violence.
Maybe it’s just that I’ve got a high degree of media literacy. Perhaps it’s that I’ve got high sales resistence; the harder you try to sell me generally the less I want to buy. Or maybe it’s just that I’m watching too damn much TV these days.