I recently read an article in Adweek where Robert Thompson brought up the fact that Anna G. Esho, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives is drafting legislation to reduce the problem of TV ads being set at frighteningly higher volumes than the shows that surround them. And then it got interesting.
Mr. Thompson spends most of his article in a very sarcastic tone, telling us that the problem isn't really all that bad, that we're imagining ads being louder, that if they are louder, it's not much and it's not a problem. I'm no old man. I'm a guy in his mid-twenties that loves me some loud music and cranking up the volume on movies. So when I go from straining to hear normal conversation on a TV show to covering my ears because the volume of the commercial pod is painful, there's an issue.
Out of touch
I'm glad to say a quick look at the comments on the article will reveal Ms. Esho is not in the minority and that Mr. Thompson is clearly outnumbered by a lot of annoyed and angry folks.
Tying the noose that hangs you...or at least your buddy
BUT, perhaps the most shocking part of the article is that Mr. Thompson's solution for the problem, which is important because he previously mentions there is no problem, is for people to turn down the volume, skip the commercials or turn off the TV altogether. WHAT!?
Only from the bowels of uninformed academia that hasn't had to deal with the real world for ages could come such an obtuse recommendation. As advertisers, we don't want people turning down the commercials, we don't want people hating commercials because they're loud and our message gets lost in the scramble for the remote. We definitely don't want people TIVOing past the commercials or ceasing to watch the shows altogether. THOSE COMMERCIALS ARE HOW WE MAKE A LIVING. But since Mr. Thompson has a cushy seat in academia, he doesn't need to worry about us working folks.
The bottom line is the ad industry should be lobbying for some sort of change to help limit this problem. Is an act of Congress necessary? Probably not. But some industry self-regulation should be put into play at the least. Why? Because more annoyed people are by commercials, the more they'll skip them, the less they'll pay attention, and the quicker we can all kiss our advertising jobs goodbye.
Adjust the message, not the volume
And by the way Mr. Thompson, if you have to shout your message to get people to listen to it, you clearly don't have anything worth saying.