Monday, January 31, 2011

Television Ads, 70 Years Later

The first-ever legal TV ad ran in 1941. It was a 20 second spot for the Bulova Watch Company. The ad consisted of the image below with a voice-over reading the company's slogan, "America runs on Bulova time!". This piece cost nine dollars at the time, which is worth somewhere between $100 and $1,000 today. 

The following decades saw TV ads became an expected, and unavoidable, aspect of television. As became the primary means by which networks supported themselves. Viewers accepted this as a necessary trade-off to watch their favourite programs or specials. TV ads grew to be considered the most-effective form of mass media advertising ; so much so that a 30-second Super Bowl spot cost US$2.7 million in 2008 (Joseph Bulova is rolling over in his grave). Some ads became famous, or infamous, for their humour, effectiveness, style or for the controversy they created.

However, with the advent of DVRs and television shows online there is a growing feeling that TV ads are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Some, like myself, rejoice at this possibility due to the often infuriating nature of TV ads. Though the future is uncertain, it is true that companies who do pay top-dollar for their ads need to ensure that they are getting the most of this medium while they still can. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. This blog seeks to review which ads are working, and which are not. Along the way we'll also examine the past and future of TV ads.