Has this ever happened to you?
Your commercial for Romano’s Macaroni Grill Dinner Kits is running on a cable tv network like Food Network. Everything is going well, happy people cooking food at home that’s every bit as good as it would be at the restaurant.
“Just add your chicken and cook for 20 minutes. Romano’s Macaroni Grill Dinner Kits… the restaurant favorites that…”
and then, suddenly,
“How rough are your dry cracked feet? Now there’s Heeltastic”… as a woman takes a sandblaster to her bare feet.
You’ve just joined the ranks of thousands of advertisers who suffer from Commercialus Interruptus, a tragic, embarrassing affliction that is, sad to say, occurring with increasing frequency among anyone who advertises on cable television.
Why does it happen? More importantly, why does it seem to be spreading? I first noticed it on the Food Network, but now I’ve seen it on Comedy Central, TNT, TBS, USA, CNN and many other stations too traumatized to allow themselves to be mentioned in public.
Uninformed theories abound, some of them no better than old wives tales. Some say the advertiser couldn’t afford the full slot and is willing to settle for less. Some say it’s because the advertiser didn’t pay the bill. I’ve even seen someone post that they think it happens when the person running the commercials at the station is in training and screws it up.
Commercialus Interruptus can happen to anyone, no matter how famous or successul. Whether you’re Billy Mays or Bob the Enzyte Guy, you too can have your pitch prematurely pre-empted by a puzzling 2-second snippet of a mop in bed banging against a radio alarm clock.
The most promising theory I’ve found suggests that the problem arises from scheduling or programming conflicts between commercials that are running nationally at the same time as ones that are just running in local markets.
But there have always been national stations and local affiliates, and there have always been national media buys and local. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember this happening as frequently even a few years ago as it does now. (I refuse to believe it has anything to do with getting older.)
I know what you’re thinking: this could never happen to your commercials. Your commercials run their full 30 seconds and never, ever end prematurely.
But how can you really know? Do you get full playbacks of every single commercial you run? Do you believe the networks would tell you the truth knowing that it would hurt your feelings and, perhaps, damage your self-confidence?
I thought so.
There must be an answer out there. We do not have to simply roll over and allow ourselves to be stigmatized. We do not have to be victims.
So can someone please explain to me what really causes Commercialus Interruptus , and more importantly, what we can do to stop it?