How commercials are changing a baby boomer’s life

First we saw the advent of television. Then it was commercials to support it. Then it was color television. And then it was commercials during the Super Bowl, and that’s what is starting to bug Philadelphia columnist and baby boomer Leslie Handler who complains, Commercials Are Changing My Life.

The disappearance of good old-fashioned jingles in today’s commercials makes no sense to me.

Back in the day (which means, the day when jingles were still in our commercials), I’d find myself in the middle of the lunch meat aisle trying to remember what it was we needed. Oh, yes, lunch meat, I’d think to myself, but which kind was it that the kids wanted? All I’d have to do is think about the commercial, and I was home free: “My bologna has a first name, it’s O-S-C-A-R, my bologna” … and there you have it: jingle, memory, success!

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Cereal? Oh of course: Snap, crackle, pop. I needed Rice Krispies.

The medicine aisle? No problem. Which bandage did I want to get? “I am stuck on Band Aid Brand.” That upset stomach medicine I needed? “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz.” Sure, that’s it, I needed Alka Seltzer.

Dinner? No worries, because “La Choy makes Chinese food swing American,” and if I was more in the mood for Italian, I could always pick up “Rice-a-Roni,” the San Francisco treat.

Chevy

And who could forget how we could load the car and have enough time to “See the USA in my Chevrolet.”

But today’s commercials make me an emotional mess. They can’t just give a boomer a nice simple jingle and call it a day. There is so much emotional baggage that comes with them that my friend, a therapist, could put her couch in Aisle Two at the grocery store and use that as her office.

tv-ads

A Budweiser commercial during the Super Bowl with a puppy and a pony in the cast took me on such an emotional rollercoaster ride that my husband thought they were playing free Hallmark movies right there in Aisle Nine when I went out for beer.

As for driving today, to get me to drive a Honda, they make me listen to Bruce Willis talk over piano music about having a hug fest for the safety of my family. By the end of the commercial, I feel that if I don’t buy that Honda, I don’t really love my family. It’s a whole guilt trip.

Budweiser puppy love commercial.

Budweiser puppy love commercial.

Cialis wants me to go back to outdoor plumbing with two separate bathtubs in the middle of a meadow. Trouble is, if I go to the store and try to remember which product the ad told me to buy, I have no idea, because all I can think about is a picture of me and my husband naked in the middle of a meadow, each with our own separate tubs. So somehow, when I unpack my groceries, two containers of bath salts come out of the bag. Wait, what?

Writer Leslie Handler.

Writer Leslie Handler.

MetLife has a commercial with the Peanuts character, Schroeder, playing the National Anthem on his piano in an empty football stadium. This commercial makes me so patriotic that I stand up in my living room with my hand over my heart. Even the dog goes and gets our American flag out of the closet as a gesture of mutual allegiance.

Extra, the gum brand, has a commercial showing a dad making little origami cranes for his daughter on numerous occasions while she’s growing up. As an adult, an entire box of them spills out of her car. That one almost makes me weep.

I feel sorry for today’s youth. I don’t know how they’re ever going to be able to remember what they need at the store. They’ll probably just have to stand in the aisles and have a good cry while sending out a tweet to see if anyone can remember why they came to the store in the first place.

As for me, I may have to stop watching commercials all together. But first, let me go buy some Zoloft and Ambien so I can sleep until my mood swings go away.

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12 Comments

  1. I agree!
    I’m in tv myself and we are catering to the 18-25 age group. Trouble is.. the 18-25 age group is not watching tv.. they get their news, information and entertainment from their cell phones and tablets. That leaves the older generations to try and figure out the commercials (and other programming) that were geared to a much younger generation. The whole on-the-air tv biz model is outdated and in 10 years will be on cable. Besides the government wants their channels back so they can provide more cells phone and tablet access.

    1. Hi Bob,

      Yes, I think you’re right on the money. Our generation and older, are the only ones that watch the evening news. What commercials do you see on the news night after night? Drug commercials. Arghhhhh. Thanks for reading.

  2. It’s all about the money. In the 70’s most of the major advertisers had jingles. Advertising Agencies would have the Jingle companies compete for the theme and the winning company would get to make arrangements for every commercial using their theme. McDonald’s was making a commercial a day and running commercials nationally every 30 minutes. Budweiser was spending around $280 million a year on advertising. Then slowly advertisers started cutting back on expenses. Fewer commercials were made, fewer people were used in commercials, and less spots were run. Writing a good jingle was an art form, just as a songwriter writes a memorable song. And, in jingle writing as well as songwriting, a good melody writer is hard to find. So today, instead of having multiple commercials with with a jingle and a theme, advertisers have cut back their budgets, and have one or two commercials they run over and over, with sound effects or no music. If they do use music they try to buy the rights to a hit song and hope that the 15 or 30 seconds you hear will stick in your head like the jingles of the old days. Unfortunately it doesn’t. I’m sure if you ask anyone over 50, they can still sing
    “I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Weiner” or “See the USA in your Chevrolet” .

  3. To my mother’s chagrin, at a young age I could sing all of the cigarette and beer commercial jingles…

    (“Winston tastes good…like a cigarette should!”

    “When you say Budweiser…you’ve said it all!”)

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