Philadelphia Inquirer | 01/15/2006 | Too many plugs in too many places — An essay I wrote for the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer probably got me more email than any op-ed I’ve done for years. I must have hit a nerve. Luckily they posted it online at for your reading pleasure.


Why doesn’t the public complain more loudly? Because the public has long since assumed (just ask) that there is a corrupt relationship between media purveyors and sponsors, so they are less bothered by it when they see it for real. After all, big advertisers such as General Electric, Viacom and Disney actually own huge networks (NBC, CBS and ABC, respectively). Both local and national news shows routinely promote movies produced by the entertainment divisions of these corporations. Even the once-honest 60 Minutes has long since succumbed to the overlords at media giant Viacom. When the show suddenly fawns over an actor or singer, even my children point and name the movie being promoted, with this kicker: “I’ll bet that’s a Viacom film!”

One of the letters I received from a British ex-pat mentioned that the hit Fox Show “24” is dubbed “18” in the UK since it is run without all those commercials. Ha!

Related Link:
the future of advertising reading list

  1. Simran says:

    Ugh…. can’t advertisers just give us our space? It’s disgusting to be bombarded with pop-ups on websites, pamphlets in parking lots, hoardings on streets and banners in my Reuters news feed!

  2. That is why I love my DVR, I just skip the junk, and watch the show.

  3. Paul says:

    The more ads there are, the more consumers will develop and use ways to avoid them. If a 60-minute primetime television show only contained about 4 to 6 minutes of commercials, I wouldn’t go out of my way to DVR it just to watch it later sans ads. As it stands, you can watch a “60-minute” TV show in 45 minutes via DVR. That’s just ridiculous.

    I know media companies have to make money, but don’t you think advertisers would pay a premium if they knew their message wasn’t getting lost in a sea of other ads, and that people might actually SEE their ad?

  4. mtroute says:

    Wow, Dvorak complaining about advertisers, has anyone looked at his PCmag webpage,,1895,1866497,00.asp and seen the content to advertising ratio. It’s easily 25% content 75%ads…John, you can’t complain if your going to do nothing about it, we have enough complainers and not enough doer’s

  5. David Clark says:

    The big giants are already getting the message that enough is enough vis a vie massive bit torrent / limewire / itunes downloads and drastically declining TV viewers across the board.

    I rather enjoy screwing the networks by downloading..

  6. Ahmer says:

    LOL. Use a damn DVR for TV. And AdBlock for Websites.

  7. Esteban says:

    Look at this new “MiniStore” feature in iTunes 6.0.2. Now even Apple is trying to stick adds on your music player. And they’re touting this little piece of spyware/adware as a feature!

    I’m surprised Microsoft hasn’t gotten the idea yet to put ads on the back of the cards in Windows Solitaire.

  8. John, your article on the Future of Advertising is right on target!

    In my opinion, drowning us in commercials is simply one more manifestation of the crudest kind of corporate domination of life as we know it — another symptom of rampant, unchecked greed. Yuk. And, in the name of “freedom”, the US is quite willing to use its armed might to dump its way of life on the rest of humanity.

  9. John Wofford says:

    Hey, I don’t know, I kind of like some commercials. Some of them have higher production values than the content they support. I don’t get out much, so the citified commercials don’t reach me, and my daily commute winds through mostly country roads, so other than a few, mostly faded billboards, I don’t get that much exposure. At home, when the the TV commercials get on my nerves, I just shut the damned thing down and go play with some of my toys.


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