Thursday, May 23, 2013

"Hey, Kids! What Time Is It?"

Nobody has ever surveyed what I watch on T.V.  And yet – “Whoo-oo-oo-oo” – Scary Music –

They still seem to know.

Marketing genius.  I cannot claim to understand it.  but I know it’s out there.  How do I know?  After three paragraphs of verbally wiping my feet…

I shall tell you.

Two of my three sources of viewing entertainment – the third one being sports – oh, and old movies – oh, and reruns of westerns I haven’t seen since the fifties – oh, and British mystery series, oh, and travel programs featuring places we have recently visited – let’s pick up the threat here, shall we? 

Two of my three sources of viewing entertainment are cable news (of the Left-leaning variety, the other brand making me want to repatriate to Canada) and reruns of Law & Order SVU (now that reruns of my favored L & O format – the original one – are less frequently broadcast.)

MSNBC and the USA Channel.  Is primarily what I watch.  Generally, during the late afternoon and early evening.  I am less than proud of myself for watching either of those channels – MSNBC because, like the movie The Aristocrats where 50 or so comedians each told the same joke using their own personalized approach, a handful of commentators similarly repeat the same news stories, and USA Cable, where I passively submit to continuous SVU recyclings, new to me, because I can never remember the endings.

What a waste.  I could more valuably invest those squandered hours doing something ameliorative for the planet, but I don’t.  (I also do no harm, so how ‘bout “part marks” for not making things worse?  No, you say?  Well, you’re probably right.)

Anyway, as with all less than admirable activities (and, arguably, all the admirable ones as well), there’s a price.  And the price in this case is the following.

Hearkening back to the opening, telemarketers know their audience.  And, apparently, according to their under the radar investigations, the MSNBC viewers and the SVU watchers are one and the same.

What makes me think that?  Because, under the telemarketers’ direction, both MSNBC and USA Cable offer virtually identical advertising content, targeted at the networks’ perceived overlapping viewership, an audience which, demographically, it would appear,

Is “up there.”

And what, according to those marketing wizards, is that “up there” audience primarily interested in?

Their health.

Their consequent strategy:  An avalanche of pharmaceutically-related commercials.

I am not making this up, and I'm barely exaggerating.  When they’re not advertising other programs on their networks, at least half of the commercials on MSNBC and USA Cable are concerned with products promising to cure, or at least palliate, one or another age-related affliction. 

This marketing decision, frankly, surprises me, because, as an “up there” audience member myself, the last thing I want to hear about when I surrender an hour or six to watching mindless entertainment is my teetering mortality.

The subject I least want to think about.  Yet there I am, bombarded by commercial after commercial offering medications, services and cutting edge devices promoting

Painful bone joint relief

Acid Reflux control

Sleep disorder medicine

Back pain remedies

Cancer hospitals

“Low-T (testosterone)-related underarm sprays

Motorized Wheel Chairs (“Many covered by Medicare”)

Stroke and blood clot inhibitors

Frequent urination assistance


Diabetes treatments (you do not have to measure or inject)

That’s what insinuates itself into my highly-coveted moments of leisure – reminders of my impending, if not already happening, decrepitude.

“You know you are falling to pieces.  Here are some ‘miracle products’ that might help.”

And, as an bonus, there are those obligatory lawsuit-indemnifying disclaimers of these medications’ shattering side effects – “suicidal thoughts or actions”, “severe liver problems” – which are invariably worse than the illnesses they are trying to correct.

Hey, I’m watchin’ TV here!  Distracting myself with overheated news coverage, and seeing if Elliot and Olivia will get that scumbag off the streets.  I don’t need this!

“Ask your doctor if Cymbalta can help you.”  No!  Will you just lemme watch the show!

I have this minor talent where, though I never wear a watch, I know almost precisely what time it is.  (A consequence of my TV-writing days, where I was continually harassed by an onrushing deadline.)  These commercials – my punishment for choosing sloth over contributing to the betterment of Mankind – reconnect me, unwelcomely, to another clock-ticking inevitability:

My time is almost up.

Thank you.  And enjoy the show.
"Medieval Cats" Post - Kudos Keith - First class work.


YEKIMI said...

I'm a late night person and the worst...THE WORST!...[had to be emphasized] ad is the one for Pos-T-Vac, that boner-helper ad. Yeah, most of those guys they use to promote it look like they'd be more at home in a police lineup or drinking their life away at some VFW bar. Guess good looking guys don't ever suffer from erection problems. And the fact that they play it EVERY damn commercial break drives me nuts!

Doug said...

Three letters: DVR

Frank said...

I always like at the end how they quickly speed through the possible side effects like it is a one in a million chance you will even get one. My guess is odds on you will get half the bad ones.

YEKIMI said...

I don't think they list an side effects for the Pos-T-Vac. About the only problem I'd think there'd be would be if it exploded....which would be better than if it imploded.