Bad Commercials Are Good For You

"Commercials make TV programs more enjoyable to watch. Even bad commercials,” says Leif Nelson, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of California, San Diego, and a co-author of Don’t Touch That Dial! Watching Commercials Leads to Greater Enjoyment of TV Programs.

The psych prof showed an episode of Taxi to students with ads and another group saw it without. The group who watched the show with the commercials rated the show much more favourably, even while stating they didn't like the ads.

We adapt quickly to pleasurable experiences, says Dr. Nelson, and our enjoyment quickly tapers off. "Each successive minute is slightly less enjoyable than the previous one," he says. So a break - even it involves a strange man hawking a yellow cloth - makes the experience novel again.

This, of course, means two things. I should periodically hit my hand with a hammer just to make everything else I am doing seem that much more pleasurable. Secondly, Dr. Nelson is Agent Smith and the Matrix is upon us.
Agent Smith: Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be... happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program, entire crops were lost.

Some believed that we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I belive, that as a species, human beings define their reality though suffering and misery.
Of course some ads can be quite enjoyable, like this Bud Lite spot that bizarrely compares its customers to porn addicts. (Link via Listicles)

Related(ish) story: Nine corporate attempts at 'edgy' that failed

Previously on Popped Culture...
Insipid Woodland Pleasantries
Love & Sockets
Sex, Latex and Videotape
Time For A Commercial Break


  1. I think about the commercials a lot. I wonder about the corporate culture who hired the folks who produce them and the branding, the whole bit. So for sure my brain does take a break from the show! The prof is right.

    Here's something I wonder about. We have a Hardy's Hamburger franchise here that has branded itself to a microdot of humanity, boys 15-24 from my estimation of the commercials. It's like Pepsi, just branding it for the young generation. And their parking lot reflects it. 98 percent empty.

  2. Advertising is an art form, and I don't mind watching clever or amusing commercials. It's just 90% of them are neither.

  3. If you think bad commercials are fun to watch, you will love Pointless Planet! Check it out:

  4. Worst TV commercial of all time..... about Boob Butter?