Weall know the importance and impact of TV commercials on consumers, society and the economy. Then, why doesn't the media critique them as it does movies, TV shows and even restaurants?
There are critics for virtually everything in commerce: cars, food, wine, movies, TV shows ... except for TV commercials, yet they influence consumers, politics, society, economy and entertainment. In the U.S., TV commercials generate at least $75 billion a year in revenues for TV stations. In the U.K., audiences as a whole now watch a total of around 2.7 billion commercials a day, according to media analysts Thinkbox.
And this is without including the millions of people worldwide who watch TV spots on YouTube.
In 2014, U.S.$537 billion were spent worldwide for advertising. Viewers are exposed to TV commercials more than any other visual stimulant. They influence markets, consumer spending, political outcomes, style and trends. They can be wise, visually entertaining, informative, funny, but also misleading, deceptive, boring, offensive, gross and even idiotic.
And yet, according to U.S. advertising analyst Jack Myers, no one currently in the U.S. media has a regular TV commercial critic. Why?
Well, The New York Times has had a feature in their "Media" section called "Advertising," since 1935 (now in its Monday editions), but it tends to review trends ("What's Madison Avenue Pitching Now? Social Awareness," was a recent feature), rather than comment on individual commercials.
Phil Dougherty was one of the Times' most influential columnists covering advertising from 1966 until 1988, and I remember that, in the late '70s, the journalist reporting on advertising at my former publication, Television/ Radio Age, would get the Times five days a week, just to read Dougherty's columns.
For Dougherty's 1988 obituary, the Times wrote, "the column was, in effect, a reflection of developments, major and minor, in the advertising world." That was because even then the Times covered advertising like a trade publication would. The obit continued: "He firmly believed that advertising played an integral role in the nation's economy." And if he were to be critical it was only for ad industry issues, like, "failure to provide opportunities for women and minorities."
Before TV/Radio Age ceased publication in 1989, it covered advertising with two features: "Commercials," and "Selling Commercials." The former was about agencies and creative...