His Pillow

Kenneth Lourie

Either it was the programming on CBS we were "demanding," or the recorded programming we were watching from PBS; but for the week it was, repeatedly, and I mean REPEATEDLY, we were subjected to the same commercials over and over again. Torture doesn't begin to describe the excruciating reaction I had every time I saw the same people saying the same words. Instead of turning me on to the product or services, it had quite the opposite effect: it tuned me off. Buy what they were selling? More like good-bye.

Not that I understand the strategy behind television and/or radio advertising/promoting as I have zero experience. But I do have some experience, 21 years in fact, selling newspaper/display advertising. And what knowledge I've gained says advertising frequently in multiple media platforms is the key to success. Picking and choosing results in hitting and missing. But hitting me constantly without missing a beat is hard to take too, and not necessarily managing the consistency desirable for most businesses to thrive. Moreover, bludgeoning me into submission/buying is not creating a positive experience either and one not likely to lead to repeat business.

With respect to this test - of will power, I can't help wondering if there's a tipping point of sorts when the consumer/watcher/listener becomes less interested/more antagonistic to the message and by association, perhaps even less tolerant of the medium. Not that one can, generally speaking, blame the messenger, but when under the constant barrage of repetition, which in this instance I was forced to endure ("on demand" disables the fast-forward function so it forces you to sit and squirm), you want to blame someone, anyone. Too much of a good thing is not, after awhile, a good thing; and I'm being kind in my characterization.

Having seen the same commercial for what seemed like a dozen times, over a condensed period of time, during nearly every commercial break, I can't imagine how I could place my head on this pillow and not see this man from Minnesota, his warehouse staff, and most disturbingly, his presence when I open my medicine cabinet. Sleep? Hardly. More like shock and not awe as I lay me head down to rest. Visions of sugar plum fairies or sheep prancing over a fence I'm accustomed to, but a man with a moustache telling me what he knew he would about my reaction to his pillow, I can't quite abide.

Relax? More like reacts. Presumably if the message, messenger or medium is somehow disturbing in its consumer/market penetration; rather than being clear, concise and effective, all that was hoped to have been gained is lost in the muddle. And precious dollars wasted in the process. I imagine the question becomes: How much is too much, and how much is not enough? (Other than sports and chocolate, I wouldn't know.)

All I know is what my reaction has been to seeing and hearing endless (or so it seemed) repetition: almost visceral. I'm sort of angry and put upon for having had to listen so much to learn so little. And though I can certainly appreciate its context and presumptive strategy, I still can't help feeling like a victim of sorts; the cost of doing business, I suppose. I understand that watching what I want requires watching some of what I don't want; it's trade. A trade I can balance except when what I don't want to watch has a stronger/more negative impact on me than does the programming I want to watch.

Remember the goal is to capture my attention, not abuse it.


Kenneth Lourie"This column is my life as one of the fortunate few, a lung cancer anomaly: a stage IV lung cancer patient who has outlived his doctor’s original prognosis; and I’m glad to share it. It seems to help me cope writing about it. Perhaps it will help you relate reading about it."

Blog category: 
Living with lung cancer

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