Give Me A Break, Spanish Advertising

A small impression on TV advertising here in Spain. As far as my experience has ever gone, commericals and forced adverts are all but universally abhorred across all mediums. On TV, online; perhaps excepting only the previews at a movie theatre.

In the US, a half-hour programme is usually only around 20 minutes after advertisements, and an hour-long programme is usually close to 40 minutes in length and 20 minutes of adverts. Spain seems to be about equal on this. With shows and films on TV in the US, scene changes are usually the transition point to an advert, logically enough. Each segment is also usually a sort of  bell-curve, starting slow, ramping up, then winding down to the 60-90 second commercial break, and so on, so forth. It’s annoying, but it makes some relative sense.

In Spain, it’s a slightly different system. You get to see more of any given programme or film at a time. The commerical breaks still exist, but they, too, are longer. About twice as long, at usually 5-7 minutes in length. The effect that this has is that any show that is not Spanish-made (which is many of them) are not edited for such time discrepancies. You’ll see the standard TV “arc” so to speak of rapid exposition, resuming of the action, and a tight summation or cliffhanger before a fade-to-black, scene change, or “coming up on ..!” With Spanish timing, these convenient cuts just stroll past like a polar bear on holiday in Greece, and the show goes on as if the break occurred. Then a few moments later, mid-scene, it will cut to a commerical or a station’s hip and flashy-looking titlecard saying “we’ll be back in ~7~ minutes!” This is about where the remote comes into play, only to change the channel onto another (in)conveniently timed commercial break.

As to the nature of the ads themselves, they’re usually just as innane, banal, and noisy as American counterparts, if not with a hair more sexuality and one or two instances of noticably questionable sexism (more than what’s normally there, of course). What interests me most is that advertisements will occassionally appear mid-show. The anchor of a sports programme, talk show, and even the Spanish equivalent of The Daily Show will be in their signature style of dress and deliver with their normal smarm and eloquence the benefits of their mandatorily pitched product. It’s weird to me, personally.

I also keep thinking I’ve seen this during a news programme, but I’m assured that the news is one programme they don’t run these adverts on. Luckily so, as it would seem to me like a very alarming potential conflict of interest, should one of the corporate sponsors-of-the-week got into some newsworthy trouble. I still don’t like it, personally, as it sort of seems like advertising creeping just a little too far into the programmes themselves. Then I think of professional sports broadcasts and remember it’s like that, anyways.

Really, though, it’s all effectively the same to the US, aside from the length and occassional intrusion upon the shows themselves, more than the American levels of intrusion, which is a thing ridiculous to even consider. Long story short: a necessary(-ish) evil for funding, it still annoys effectively everyone, it just lasts incrementally longer here in Spain. So good day, and enjoy Johnson & Johnson’s No-More-Tears Baby Shampoo.

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