The other week there was an article in the paper about how we
punters are feeling short-changed over the increasing number of
programmes appearing in letter-box format on our regular-shaped
Waste of the licence fee and all that. Well, sod the programmes, what
about the ads?
Letter-boxed commercials look dumb enough on normal TV sets. But when
they get shown on the new-fangled widescreen tellies whose format
they’re imitating, what happens? You end up with a letter-box (populated
by electronically truncated dwarves) inside another letter-box. Either
way, the result is the same: acres of unused TV screen.
Unused. But not unpaid-for. I tell you, if I were a client, I’d want my
money back. Or some of it, at any rate. Or here’s an idea. If I were a
client, I’d bloody well make my agency use those expensive black
I’d get them to list my stockists. Or tell the punters all about my
0-to-60 record and fuel consumption figures. Or slip in a couple of
And if my agency didn’t buy that, I’d sell the unused space back to the
TV station and suggest they auction it to the highest bidder. I’ll bet
there are plenty of advertisers out there who would leap at the
opportunity of slipping their message around someone else’s commercial,
the way cable stations scroll the stock prices.
Of course, one day we’ll all have widescreen tellies (as opposed to just
production company receptions and agency boardrooms) and life will
finally catch up with art.
Until then, the very least you adpeople can do is use all that leftover
space for what it’s really designed for: those interminable legal
disclaimers so adored by your friends at the BACC.