A Couch Potato Way of Self-Knowledge – The Final Showdown


Dear readers, I am committed to keeping this blog frivolous, and I have no interest in making it political.  However, I did think it might be fun to apply my concept (studying the commercials on your favorite shows to gain insight into your true self) to 2 shows that I don’t watch – The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News and Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC.  What will the commercials reveal about the people who watch these alleged pundits? 

On Wednesday, June 24, the 8 P.M. PST showing of The O’Reilly Factor had the following commercials:

  1. Sandals (couples resort)
  2. Verizon Wireless
  3. Capital One (credit card
  4. Infiniti G (“hardtop convertible”)
  5. GEICO (car insurance)
  6. Bridgestone (Tires)
  7. Fiber One Honey Clusters (cereal)
  8. Food for Kids (prepared dietic meals)
  9. Market Watch (online financial info)
  10. Liverite Liver Aid (natural supplement that “supports liver function”)
  11. ADT (security systems)
  12. Atlantis (resort for families)
  13. Tums (antacid)
  14. Lending Tree (loans)
  15. Go To Meeting (online service)
  16. Tums (again)
  17. Ditech (mortgage)
  18. IHOP
  19. Ally Bank
  20. AT&T (cellular phone)
  21. “Community of Veterans” (PSA)
  22. www.boostup.org(PSA – graduate from high school)
  23. LoseYourExcuse.gov (PSA – install energy-saving bulbs)
  24. ShamWow!

Additionally, there were 5 promotional spots for Fox News programs, including Fox and Friends (“rock with Creed in live performance”). 

The same night, at 10 P.M. PST, Countdown with Keith Olbermann had the following commercials:

  1. Ally Bank
  2. Lexus IS
  3. Centrum Silver (“age-adjusted vitamins”)
  4. Shredded Wheat
  5. Orbitz (online hotel booking)
  6. Zantac
  7. Valvoline (motor oil)
  8. Boy Scouts (PSA)
  9. Franklin Templeton (investments)
  10. Wal-Mart (discount prescription drugs)
  11. BP (British Petroleum says: “It’s time to unlock America’s energy potential”)
  12. Just for Men “Touch of Gray” (hair dye)
  13. Free Style (diabetes meters)
  14. Enzyte (“once-daily tablet for natural male enhancement”)
  15. Orbitz (again)
  16. Shredded Wheat (again)
  17. Aricept (Alzheimer’s drug)
  18. Forex (sounds like a condom, but it’s online currency trading)
  19. Progressive (car insurance)
  20. Lipitor (cholesterol-lowering drug)
  21. Pogo.com (online trivia game)
  22. Infiniti G (“hardtop convertible”)
  23. ExxonMobil (promoting their program to “remove CO2 from natural gas”)
  24. Travelocity (online travel booking)
  25. Franklin Templeton (again)
  26. Centrum Ultra Women’s (vitamins for women)
  27. Shredded Wheat (yet again)
  28. Wal-Mart (discount drugs again)
  29. Orbitz (yet again)
  30. Bosley (“permanent solution to hair loss”)

Additionally, there were 7 promotional spots for NBC and MSNBC programs, including “The ED Show” on MSNBC. 

So… what can we learn from this?

Common Ground: 

  • Acid indigestion.  On MSNBC they tout Zantac (as does faux pundit Colbert on Comedy Central); Fox News goes old school with Tums.  Note:  It’s hard to sing “Kum bay yah” with those tablets in your mouth. 
  • Regardless of political persuasion, they’ll take your money at Ally Bank or sell you an Infinity G Series hardtop convertible (both sponsors sound somewhat oxymoronic – Is a bank really my ally?  Is a hardtop also a convertible?). 

Compare and contrast:

  • Liverite versus Enzyte – Apparently, conservatives worry about their liver function, while liberals worry about the function of a more visible organ (possible explanation for the odd capitalization in MSNBC’s “The ED Show”?)
  • Bosley hair restoration and Touch of Gray – MSNBC viewers care more about their hair (or lack of hair).  Fox News viewers just rub their chrome domes with a ShamWow! and are ready for dinner at IHOP.  

Surprises about liberals: 

  • They appear to be older and in much poorer health.
  • Oil companies want to be liked by them. 

Surprise about conservatives: 

  • They listen to Creed (or their overweight kids do). 

Truth in advertising (or through advertising)?  As someone once said: “We report.  You decide.”


[Next week:  Sarcasm… yeah, that’ll be really interesting]


4 Responses to “A Couch Potato Way of Self-Knowledge – The Final Showdown”

  1. 1 ted

    I’m always amazed at the “corporate” commercials – they’re not selling a product or service, and I come away confused by their message.

    The BP commercial looks like a pro-environment save-the-rain forests ad. The images are beautiful. The words are all in green. I’m just about to ask where I sign up, but then at the end it turns out to be about BP? The gas station? They want to put a gas station in the middle of that beautiful waterfall?

    If I can stay awake, I’ll list the commercials on Larry King. Live!

  2. 2 JIm Laffan

    Dorn: I’ve subjected the data to rigorous post-Lacanian analysis to re-envision what the advertising community sees in the morlocks who watch O’Reilly. Fragmented families (send the little bastards to Atlantis without snorkels while the parents cavort at Sandals, probably wife-swapping with other Republican swingers like Sen. Ensign and Gov Sanford who write these things off as trade junkets.), a magical-thinking belief that day trading and home re-fis are still the way to capitalist heaven (Market Watch, Lending Tree and Ditech)and a a burning need to counteract the dyspepsia (Tums) brought on by absorbing the bilious spew of O’Reilly himself (Liverite). And at the end, to comply with the FCC requirements of public service content– an ad for Egyptian gods (IHOP– the jackal headed deity usually depicted in tomb drawings as bearing a tray of flatbreads to Bubba Ho-tep,)

    As for the Obermanngruppen; just a bunch of neurotic Boomers trying to hold onto the last few sprigs of hair as they fight off the Four Horsemen of Old Age (Obesity, Diabetes, Impotence and Dementia). This crowd is always good for wonder-drugs and sugarless cereal. Even their view of capitalism is Crunchy: their favorite billionaire is George Soros; thus the FOREX ads. It’s okay to be rich if you didn’t exploit Third World child labor in the process. Currency straddles involving Japanese yen and pounds sterling is just a really exciting multi-player computer game, like Halo or World of Warcraft.

    The mystery of TV advertising–solved. Bring on Sarcasm!

    • Well JIm, I cannot tell you how glad I am that you brought up these points.

      As Nathan Johnson wrote in his paper “Pedagogical Insights from the Post-Lacanian Tradition,” which he submitted to the ALISE (Association for Library and Information Science Education) Conference:
      “The Post-Lacanian perspective complicates those either-or questions by suggesting that technologies and people are linguistically bound. Applying this perspective informs analysis of systems of information as they occur in a material environment, which should help inform information studies theory. In support of education, Post-Lacanian analysis provides a heuristic to understand the complex and contingent behavior of users. Although in-depth analysis requires a lengthy theoretical commitment of research into Post-Lacanian research and tropological vocabularies, that knowledge can be made practical and passed on to practitioners at a more rudimentary and useful level. Indeed, it can be extremely practical—issues of evaluation and ethics should be. Education through innovation; innovation through new researches; researches rooted within past perspectives; past perspectives leveraged through Post-Lacanian theory.”

      Damn… I couldn’t possibly have put it any clearer! However, there is a certain odd familiarity of phasing in Mr. Johnson’s prose. Either Nathan’s quoting Shemp Howard from a Three Stooges short or he’s paraphrasing what a nurse named Patty Glenn, who — as you know — I dated back in 1975, said when I was… how shall I put this… picking the lock on her backdoor.

      Anyway, that’s ancient history. I’m all about sarcasm now… believe me, I can’t wait to see your next comments!

  3. 4 JIm Laffan

    Dorn: You might have had Patty’s back door covered, but back in the day, the sliding doors to your room were regularly crowded around with Jacques and Sandy and me, stifling our giggles and listening to the low grunts and mud-sucking noises emanating from your room. (Sort of like a guy huffing his way through a real greasy bog in rubber boots). If that was only picking the lock, I’m just as glad you never actually made it in; you both would have had seizures. Yr. Admiring Friend, J

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