What’s more violent, football or TV ads?

November 14, 2013

It’s no secret that advertisers choose the medium most likely to reach their potential customers. This is true for newspapers, magazines, radio and the Internet, but it is most obvious on television.

Watch a program geared toward women, perhaps on the Oprah Winfrey Network, and you’re likely to be pummelled by commercials hawking hair rinses and other products of female interest. If you wish to see what toys are on the market, tune in to the cartoons. If you watch the nightly 6 o’clock news, the networks and their researchers have figured out that you’re likely an oldster most interested in moving to a retirement community or buying medication to treat your arthritis.

Who, then, do you suppose those researchers believe are watching professional football? The commercials airing on CBS-TV during last Sunday’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Buffalo Bills draw a disturbing picture.

The advertisements for the video game “Call of Duty – Ghosts” depict young men (and one hot-looking woman) gleefully firing machine guns and grenade launchers at helicopters and armies of attackers in a cataclysmic orgy of explosions and death. We are cautioned that the game is rated M for mature. And then there are the promotions for dramatic programs, like “NCIS,” in which the actors exchange humorous quips about corpses, and where other actors are shot at point-blank range, stabbed and tortured, complete with a close-up of a beaten, blood-covered face.

Compared to these violent commercial breaks, the action on the football field seemed almost cordial.

We may be wrong, but it’s our suspicion that the audience watching Steelers games on Sunday afternoons is a broad one, and not restricted to bloodthirsty males ages 18 to 49. The women and children of a household are nearly as likely to be in front of their sets as the men in the family.

The geniuses who schedule these promotions ought to consider that possibility and tone down the violence, lest we be forced to send the youngsters out of the room every time there’s a break in the action.



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