Not so long ago we used to pride ourselves for having ads that were better than the programme content. We used to love those ads so much that we wouldn’t mind watching them over and over again. We never complained. But then some channels decided to give us indigestion. Ad breaks during a film became so long that you would forget the storyline, compelling you to switch to another channel. What was worse was that a break would have the same ad run three to four times – as if the audience was the client approving the double header! As for cricket, you had to be lucky to see the umpire’s finger go up or the first ball of the over being bowled. Because there was an ad ready to play spoil sport. Then cricket telecasts started having ads between deliveries, especially when a pace bowler was running up to the crease. As if that was not part of the game!
Ads became painful. The best ads looked disgusting. The indigestion had got to us. We were ready to puke.
Finally, 2011 gave us the HD telecast option, redefining everything. It felt like Alka-Seltzer to be able to watch the World Cup in peace, without the ads. It was worth every penny spent to get that HD Digital set top box. And now I have HD movie channels that don’t bother me with those ad breaks that were longer than a multiplex interval.
Such excess seems to be plaguing us in other media as well.
Look at the number of hoardings in a city like Mumbai. Such an effective medium, particularly for this city, is going so ballistic that it has become the most prominent part of the landscape. Even heritage buildings and landmark, not to mention public latrines, are not being spared. The result: it’s a pain in the neck to see so many billboards. Here the HD option may come from HC – the High Court ruling may ruin something good.
In print, 2011 finally made the front page news almost permanently move to page three. Page one and two finally took the shape of an ad gatefold! It made it so clumsy that one didn’t even know how to hold the newspaper. Reading the back page required you to place the front page gatefold ad like a pallu over your shoulder! Now, why get a stiff neck trying to read what you have already seen and heard the previous night on TV? My son tells me he reads his daily on the net. Some time back I thought it was impossible to do that. The feel of the paper, the smell of ink… how do you get all that on the net, I used to wonder. But now with the front page feeling and smelling more like the builder’s sales office, the net seems like the HD option to zap the ad!
2011 for me was a great lesson of how excess can spoil even the most delicious dish. Thanks to HD, I am a wiser man.
(Kaushik Roy is President, Brand Strategy & Marketing Communication, Reliance Industries Ltd.)