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02/28/01 - The Best Thing On Televison

Despite focus groups and research, it's easy for those of us in the insular ad world to lose sight of the public's perception of our work.

With the Hollywood glamour associated with spot production, many prefer to see themselves as showmen rather than salesmen.

However, the ratings for a program called The Greatest Commercials You've Never Seen, which aired Monday, February 26, indicate TV viewers have a different take.

The public (except for ad geeks like yours truly who had their VCRs rolling) preferred to leave these gems unseen.

To quote INSIDE, "ABC's late-sweep rally was also undermined last night from 8-9 p.m. by a Best Commercials You've Never Seen special (preliminary 3.0/8 in 18-49, 5.8/9 in homes) that kept the network deep in fourth among adults 18-49 for that hour and provided a poor lead-in to the Judy Garland movie."

Even the fact that the special was hosted by commercial superstars-of-the-moment, Bud Lite's "Whassup" guys didn't help.

"Whassup?"

"Nuthin'. Watching Ally McBeal. Having a Bud."

"True."

Guess their 15 minutes are up.

This sweep month statistic should be sobering news for anyone who believes the network sales department myth that Joe Six Pack watches the Super Bowl for the spots. (If that's true, why don't they broadcast an Ad Bowl?)

Obviously, the annual Cannes reel won't be showing up at the local megaplex or Blockbuster any time soon.

As discussed at length in an earlier installment, while the advertising industry touts its product as a popular "art form," it operates under a different standard than books, movies and music which achieve "best seller" status through sales.

Advertising pays for attention rather than earning it.

The public knows this and reacts accordingly.

Which is a reality ad creators ought to keep in mind when in the boardroom or edit bay, deluding themselves that the world is waiting to see another commercial--great or otherwise.

That is, unless it's for the next Star Wars movie.