Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ads that make you go "STOP!!!!!!"

In my last couple of posts I have alluded to some ads that are driving me crazy. Have you seen this one?

(any questions? YES i want to know why this ad keeps playing over and over)

How about this one?

(if it's too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave. got it. got it. got it.)

If you have never seen them, you must not live in my viewing area. Because I see them every day, multiple times a day, with different versions playing back to back every frigging time.

I was so annoyed by the ads, I sent a kind and courteous email to, the federal website (Dept of Health & Human Services) which ad# 1 insists we all need to visit to find out what questions we should be asking our doctor.

Here is my email:
"I understand the importance of asking questions. But I don't understand why I have to see your "Ten questions to ask" commercials on television over and over, back to back, all day long. This has to be costing you (i.e. the taxpayers) millions of dollars. Please. Make some new ads, or try some different avenues of communication, or send us all a postcard with the ten questions on it. The commercials are driving us all crazy."

The very next day, I received this response:
"As a federal agency, AHRQ is funded by tax dollars, but the Questions Are the Answers ads are done pro bono by the Ad Council ("

Hmm. Now I was really intrigued. What is this Ad Council, exactly? And why would they spend bazillions of dollar to produce ads and air them over and over and over?

First I looked up "Ad Council" on Wikipedia and discovered that the Council was established in 1942 as the War Advertising Council, a group dedicated to "mobilizing the advertising in support of the war effort." Since the end of WW II they have devoted their efforts to peacetime public service announcement ads which have implanted slogans such as "Friends don't let friends drive drunk" into our brains.

That's all well and good. I imagine their very first ad probably featured President Roosevelt on board an aircraft carrier with a huge "Mission Accomplished" sign in the background. Yay war.

But I'm still wondering ... is there really no taxpayer money involved?

I found this little tidbit on the Ad Council's very own website:
Each Ad Council campaign is sponsored by a non-profit organization or a government agency that provides the production and distribution costs and serves as the "issue expert."

What's that? Hello? Government agencies provide the production and distribution costs?

Then I found this little article from August, 2008:
In an effort to "shape the public attitude toward TSA screening personnel," the Transportation Security Administration is planning to award a sole source $1.3 million contract to the nonprofit organization The Ad Council Inc., to help raise the level of public awareness about security and TSA’s critical role in protecting it.

Hello again? TSA? Government agency? $1.3 million?

So ok, let's assume that I am mistaken or I have forgotten how to read or something. The ads are produced pro bono, with money that appears out of the air. What a heart-warming concept.

In fact, here is a heart-warming account from someone who attended a heart-warming dinner that was recently hosted by the Ad Council:

"This group of advertising and media executives are there to celebrate the great creative work that the Ad Council has produced in the past year... These ad campaigns are produced pro bono by some of the best advertising agencies in the world. This year the media companies donated $1.8 billion in space and time to showcase these commercials.

I spoke to a few people that had never attended this event in the past and they were completely surprised at how proud they were that this organization was inspiring the room and millions of Americans with its great advertising. We all gasped when we heard that 49 million people in this great country go hungry every day. That blew everyone away ...

The evening also raised $2.5 million dollars (another record), which will go a long way to help with the Ad Council's budget."

Hmm. The media companies donated $1.8 billion in space and time. The evening raised $2.5 million. And the Ad Council receives who-knows-how-much-money from Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer. And you all gasped when you heard that 49 million people go hungry every day?

How many hungry people would $1.8 billion feed? Or $2.5 million? Or even half of that?

Tell ya what. You guys air those annoying ads half as often.

I'll promise to ask my doctor 5 questions instead of 10.

And let's see if we can gasp a little less, and help a little more.

How about it?



  1. I feel lucky. I haven't seen them, but I have seen a bunch of political ads running multiple times daily here for people wanting to be Governor Rod's replacement. I am pretty tired of them too.

  2. nominated you for the 2010 weblog award.

  3. Rae: You *are* lucky! They're driving me crazy. Crazier. lol

  4. Sarah: Wow! Thank you SO much!!

  5. Most ads are simply stupid as they insult the viewers' intelligence and that's the world we live in these days.

  6. Gosh I thought I was the only one getting fed up with these inane ads. I did a web search on "taxpayer ad council" and voila! Here I am!

    Why are tax payers suddenly inundated with absurd TV commercials that we don’t really need? Public service announcements. Ad Council PSAs. Washington has spent us into a debt abyss, yet we are smothered with commercials that we must pay for, each time one of them airs. Who decided we need unceasing Smokey Bear ads, energy efficiency ads, and the “Take time to be a Dad today,” ads?

    If you’re a father, do you need to be repetitively scolded into spending time with your children? Do you need to be told to skip rope with your daughter? Making a pizza smoothie for your son is quality time spent?

    Do we need cartoon fairies, or pixies, to remind us to use power strips and turn off lights, over and over, ad nauseam?

    Do we need a wise guy tapping on a restaurant window, reminding a smoker that it’s dangerous to stamp out a cigarette in the desert, lest a cactus should catch fire?

    On health care, we pay for “Are you an actor? Aren’t you from Ohio?,” and the inane “Do you ever get a phantom vibration in your pocket?” Ask your doctor more questions? Sheesh.

    Aside from PSAs, we are also forced to pay for laughable USPS advertisements. The Post Office is on life support, so we must pay for repetitive ads informing us “If it fits, it ships.”

    Senator Murtha is gone, and I’m sorry, but it’s time to cut out the pork barrel spending.

  7. Dog-towner: Glad you found my post! I agree, these ads are such a waste of money. Not to mention ANNOYING!!