Tuned In

Dead Tree Alert: Customer, Sell Thyself

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It’s appropriate that I’ve spent the past couple days writing about a nontraditional form of advertising; this week in my Culture Complex column, I look at what’s been happening to a traditional form of advertising, the TV commercial.

In the days of product placement, guerilla ads and TiVo, TV spots don’t have the pop-culture reach they did in the “Where’s the Beef?” era. In fact–at least before the somber events of 1/31/07–probably the biggest breakthrough “ad” of the last year was the Diet Coke and Mentos online videos (which weren’t made as ads per se, though Mentos sales spiked 15%). So in Sunday’s Super Bowl, several of the ads you’ll see were made, in some way by another, by ordinary, amateur consumers.

Another sign of the era of outsourcing. First you just had to eat the Doritos. Now you have to sell them to yourself. Next year, maybe you’ll have to make them too. But will the ads be any more effective than the pro ones? Like most years’ Super Bowl ads, they’ll probably get attention for a couple days, but in the long run, I suspect the score will be Mooninites 1, TV commercials 0.