My 20-year-old son is home from university for reading week, and I notice that every time he takes the car out, he changes the radio to CD mode. He says it’s because he has no patience for radio. Two reasons:

  1. The stations don’t often play what he wants to hear, and
  2. He can’t stand the frequent commercials and inane discussions by the on-air personalities.

He has the same impatience with TV commercials, so the remote control is never far from his hand. The second a commercial comes on, he switches channels.

I suspect this is a common reaction among the Millennial generation, and it’s rubbed off on me too. I still listen to the radio, but I frequently jump channels among my favourites to skip commercials or chatter. With the TV, I may let the commercials run, but I’ll mute the most annoying ones. (Top of the list during election season: the nasty attack ads run by one party against another.)

Despite his best efforts, Son #1 is occasionally subjected to ads, such as when he doesn’t have control of the remote. He says the most annoying commercials have the opposite of their intended effect: they drive him AWAY from the product. For instance, he thinks all Coors Light ads are stupid and for that reason alone won’t buy the product. (He does fall for the patriotic call of Molson Canadian, though.) And don’t the annoying ones seem to be on all the time? I personally wish that TVs came with a button that lets you send a message directly to the advertiser: “This is an extremely annoying commercial. I don’t want to see/hear it even once, and certainly not five times in one program.”

Advertisers are starting to rethink traditional advertising, but it seems they are looking solely at where to reach Millennials, especially online. Looking at the bumper crop of stupid commercials out there, I’d say they also need to give more thought to the content and typical delivery. Give us more clever, funny, thoughtful ads. Stop bombarding viewers/listeners with the same ad multiple times in a row. Stop thinking that “annoying” equals good recall.

What do you think? Wouldn’t that be an excellent start?