Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Bottom-Third Feeders

Changed circumstances now dictate that we're definitely back to renting for the foreseeable future. Therefore, when all else fails and I'm too tired or busy or just plain bereft to think of anything else, I sometimes like to fall back on bitching about advertising. The latest itch that's gotten under my skin, on the heels of translucent station logos and squeezing out end credits to cram in more promos, is the mega-annoying promo ads with movement that take up the bottom third of the screen during a program. Jason Miletsky of Digital Output characterizes it as more of a design nightmare than just plain wrong. "From the American flag-waving peacock on NBC to the completely ridiculous quarter-page animations on TBS previewing the next movie, they are so distracting you can sometimes lose track of the current show or movie. Design is supposed to enhance, not distract or take away... When do the values of simplicity make a resurgence, or is that value now gone forever with an over-indulgence of visual stimuli?" Well, simplicity may be okay for TV news, but when it comes to advertising it's bound to get more insidious as more folks channel-surf or use their TiVos, notes Matt Kempner in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Which suits companies like Captivate (remember, you can't spell captivate without holding consumers captive!) and Teradata just fine. (Reading these sites is pretty fascinating if you want to get a good insight into how commercial propaganda works.) One wonders how these poor companies will survive if they have to cede revenues in the event of war coverage. Honestly, my heart just bleeds for them. (Okay, I feel sorry for the underlings and worker bees, I have friends at ad agencies and they're good folks, but my world ain't coming to an end if Captivate and Teradata and other silly names sink under the weight of their own pretention and arrogance.) And because we're marching forward not back, I'm not sure what the fine Logo Free TV organizations in the US and the UK will be able to accomplish, but I wish them well nonetheless.