Time for a commercial break?

Time for a commercial break?

Please allow me to start with two confessions:

– I am a cricket tragic and can easily watch 5 days of play without missing a single delivery.
– Secondly, even at this early stage in my summer of cricket, I either switch channels or go for a stroll through the house during commercial breaks.

After a career in advertising full of wonderful memories and loads of inspiration, taking time out during the commercial break doesn’t make me feel very good. In fact it leaves me feeling uncomfortable if not a little sad.

Cricket is a game full of statistics, but rather than the Australian captain’s batting average for 2012, I would like to share a calculation that can potentially cause serious Brand Damage:

– The rules of the game dictate that 90 overs are bowled in a day’s play.
– The network orchestrates a commercial break after every over (of 6 deliveries each).
– Excluding further breaks when a batsman is dismissed, this amounts to at least 900 commercials in two test matches so far this summer.

However, it is not the number of commercials or viewings that inspired this expression of frustration.

It is the fact that by far the majority of these commercials are repeats from a shortlist of major sponsors of the cricket broadcast, and only a desperate few are worth watching a second time.

It is now 28 years since the Apple Macintosh commercial famously known as ‘1984’ was shown only once on US daytime television. It was during the Super Bowl in January 1984 with a massive live audience, but the brilliance of the commercial resulted in it featuring on news broadcasts for days afterwards and with it, millions of dollars in free publicity.

Ok, the production cost probably rivaled that of some feature films. It was directed by Ridley Scott of Hollywood fame and the client Apple had very deep pockets for the launch of a revolutionary new product.

But goodness me, almost 3 decades later it features prominently on YouTube, and in agencies around the world creative leaders remain in awe of this commercial.

So cricket sponsors, please dig deeper. Surely one viewing of a truly inspirational message for your brand is a better strategy than endless repeats of a commercial that passes like a ship in the night?

P.S. Apple insiders say that the board of directors hated the 1984 classic, but Steve Jobs decided to ignore them.


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