Nov. 21 Was World Television Day: Woo-Hoo?

In case you missed it, last Friday was World Television Day. And it was not brought to you by Toyota or McDonald’s, NBC or even NPR. No, this was a United Nations-led initiative backed by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the Association of Commercial Television (ACT) and egta, the Brussels-based association of television and radio sales houses.

Regular readers of this column know that I am frequently critical of the role TV today plays as an advertising medium. But why not celebrate TV once a year? Let’s face it, TV is and probably continues to be an incredibly powerful medium, in whatever form it may evolve to over the years to come.

When TV launched itself onto the media scene, it was greeted with the same level of disdain, dismissal and derision as some industry disruptors are today. Netflix? They will never survive the death of the DVD. Airbnb? Who wants to stay in the guest bedroom of a complete stranger? Landing on a comet: Puhlease!

Who knew that TV would stay as dominant as it has for as long as it has?



TV content is still massively important to consumers. When TV content is done right (as it frequently is), we all talk about it. And today, it is always available, whether you want it now or later, regardless of screen and location.

TV’s content creators are continually pushing the boundaries of what is creatively and technically possible. Thirteen episodes of top-class drama made available for one binge-sitting: Yup. Sports covered from every angle: Absolutely. A live feed from pretty much any world event: Got it. Some group projectile vomiting? Sure, the CBS series “Mom” has got your back. The list goes on.

Think about it: Did you talk, tweet, share, search or post something about something you saw on TV in the last seven days? I know I did.

And then there is TV as an advertising medium. This is where I continue to be critical. Because, let’s face it, even though the content and distribution model is evolving, neither the TV industry nor the people buying its airtime seem to be incredibly creative in how to use the medium for advertising. We are still stuck in commercial breaks and annoying “brought to you by” clocks, weather maps, sports replays and other assorted “on-air assets.”

Case in point: we are a few days away from Black Friday, which really should be called Black Monday Through Sunday, Including But Not Limited To Thanksgiving. Literally every TV ad is promotional. None of them stand out.

Television today offers us, from a content point of view, some of the best, funniest, most gripping, emotional, share-worthy content ever. But while watching it, we must suffer through back-to-back Black Friday deal commercials, whose unifying message is that there are (spoiler alert!) great Black Friday deals to be had on Black Friday (and pretty much all week before and after), from everybody, everywhere.

Look, retailers and marketers, agencies and TV airtime sellers: I think consumers get that point. They are conditioned to it. So why on earth does everyone think the secret-impact weapon is over-the top frequency? Black Friday advertisers seem to still believe that “more” equals “better.” In my book though, “more” equates to enormous waste and overkill.

So here is wishing you a belated happy World Television Day, and a great Thanksgiving. Just skip the commercials.

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