I can’t really explain it. When we watch shows together as a family, I always skip the commercials, and my kids get annoyed. They consider the commercials to be part of the program, and they know far too many of them by heart.
Now, I grew up as an “ad kid” and I have the utmost respect for commercial writers. I can recite ads from my youth to this day, and I do admit that from time to time there are spots which I do still enjoy -- long live The Slowskys, turtles who once shilled for Comcast.
But no matter how much I enjoy them once, when they pop up again, I’m likely to skip them. To me, commercials are an intrusive interruption. I will gladly pay a premium (to a point) to have an ad-free experience.
My kids don’t get it.
They think commercials are fun little vignettes, and they are OK with the boring ones interspersed among the good ones. They love Dr. Rick in the Progressive commercials because they think he is making fun of us. They enjoy the Airbnb ads because they tell us they want to go to those places. They like some car commercials.
My kids are ad-loving, message-chugging children of commercialism. I hope they get this out of their system while they’re young. The fact is that they are surrounded by ads all day, and in many cases, they choose to watch what are essentially ads for games and movies when they scroll through YouTube and choose what they want to see.
Of course, I don’t get it.
Why do my kids enjoy watching 45 minutes of a guy playing a game or people talking about the games my kids play?
On one level I can understand that they are learning cheat codes or short cuts to the game. Still, these tactics occupy about five minutes of the video, and the rest is one guy talking trash to another, while they play the same game my kids were upstairs playing a half hour before.
These videos are basically longform ads for the game they have already bought, so maybe this just underlines the depth of commercialism that my kids have waded into. They aren’t materialistic, they are experience-alistic (no – that is not a word, but I needed to make a point). Their entertainment centers around experiences in a digital world, and they don’t differentiate between gaming and commercials or documentaries and science fiction. To them, it is all to be ingested evenly and sorted out later.
Maybe I do get it.
It’s all about the immersive world screens deliver. To my kids, it is all something to enjoy. I try my best to balance their sensory overload with books, sports and getting out of the house. Sometimes we succeed, and sometimes we simply give in to their wishes because it is tiring to battle the streams of change.
Of course, I may be raising the copywriters of tomorrow or the media mavens of the 22nd century. Maybe they will see the best in the commercials of today and strive to deliver something better in the near future.
Maybe my kids will be the ones to revolutionize digital monetization and find unlocked ways to delivering value to brands. Maybe they will program the most immersive world of experiences that the world will ever see.
I guess we will just keep doing our best.
Perhaps they like ads because of how they make them FEEL. Many ads ask viewers to empathize with the main character who overcomes, triumphs...USES the product "...like a boss." That's pretty enticing, particularly to young minds without fully-developed critical thinking skills (no offense). Perhaps talking them through the ad -- who benefits from using X product? Why? How are you made to feel this way? Help them unpack the process and decode.