Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fast Talk Over Commercial Discourse


“The television commercial is the most peculiar and pervasive form of communication to issue forth from the electric plug. An American who has reached the age of forty will have seen well over one million television commercials in his or her lifetime,…competition in the marketplace requires that the buyer not only knows what is good for him but what also what is good…there even exists in law a requirement that sellers must tell the truth about their products, for if the buyer has no protection from false claims, rational decision-making is seriously impaired (126-127).”
These passages from Chapter 9 made me think of the commercials I saw when I was younger—and I am sure I have seen some in recent years—where the commercial would be trying to sell its audience something and talking really fast—I mainly remember these commercials being about medicines or something like it. The main point I am trying to get to is at some point in these commercials there would be a voice over that would say something—like a warning—really fast to where the audience couldn't really tell what the announcer was saying unless there were closed captions or they can follow a fast talking person and understand them. I know I personally change the channel whenever commercials come up, but when I come a crossed commercials like these I would get irritated because I couldn't comprehend them. So for this post I set out to find just those commercials that I am probably not describing well, but I couldn't find any in my search. I did find these two commercial parodies that kind of describe what I was thinking about of the commercials. The only difference is that the “side effects* are said at a pace where its audience can understand the “risks”.



So what do you guys think about these types of commercials that include a fast part of speech or commercials in general? Do you remember the commercials I am talking about? (Can you find one?) Do the parodies portray commercials accurate for the most part? What do the parodies tell us about the discourse about commercials?

*Click on the link to see the other video I was referring to that I found. I couldn't insert it so I had to find another way to incorporate it. Also I would like to warn you that some of the language (of the side effects) is a bit more explicit in this video. Watch it if you want.

8 comments:

  1. Ok, that Side Effects video was hilarious and so very true. I do know what you're talking about and we don't have to remember ones like that so much as we just have to turn on the TV. I still see commercials like these all the time. The Lunesta ones are the first ones that come to mind.
    Even if you can understand the fast talker, does that mean anyone cares? Today, just living life is a hazardous risk. Everything we do supposedly gives us cancer or puts us in harms way. It seems like everything we see in the media is meant to scare us. Commercials do exactly that. By pointing straight out that you're running health risks with these drugs is actually pointing out the obvious. There's no such thing as drugs that DON'T have an effect on our bodies- long term or short term.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I also know exactly what you're talking about. If I'm thinking correctly, the reason they do that in a lot of drug commercials is because, like Postman mentions, they're required to give the consumer all the important information about their product but, if you think about it, they really only have one minute (if they're lucky) or less to to it in. Commercials are incredibly short. If they spent that whole 30 seconds talking about the risks of using their drug, they'd have no time to talk about its perks or show us encouraging photos of people riding bikes or smiling at their loved ones. This, of course, would completely override the purpose of making a commercial in the first place. So, while I completely agree that the fast talking is annoying and often useless, I do understand why it's necessary.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I often make the connection with these commercials on the radio rather than on TV (I don't watch a lot of commercials). But like Anna was saying, I think the companies would rather spend 50 seconds on persuasion of why the drug is awesome and 10 seconds on the negative side effects. Not only must they include all of this information, but the way they present it is the most rhetorically marketable. They want their audience to focus on positive feelings of being happy and then disregard the rest (you can barely understand them anyway). It is kind of ironic in that Postman covered the side effects of watching TV.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I totally remember what you are talking about. It is something that i never see anymore on television. I mostly hear them on the radio these days. Now i feel like most of those medical ones are so worried that they are going to get sued that they had to slow down their speech and make sure that they said every single word clearly. But if you notice that in many of the new commercials they usually have a soft voice say them as they show people doing happy things. For example a little girl will be running the a field of tall grass while waiving around a ribbon dancer in the sunset, all while the soft voice is talking about internal hemorrhaging. So i definitely agree with Tierney's point about the positive feelings.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think any commercial about medication, especially depression, (that was a hot topic five or so years ago as I can remember)is a perfect example of the type of commercial you are referring to. I also think it goes beyond leaving the viewer "impaired". It comes off as...immoral. I understand people want to make money. They want to make a quick sale by pitching all the glorious things this medicine can do. All the same, we get nothing on what could happen. I'd rather trust a peddler in New Orleans than go out and by the trending meds on TV. We use TV as a source, a recommendation for ideas or suggestions. Think of all the food ads, the vacation spots companies pay to have blasted on a single channel. It's one thing to legitimately advertise McDonalds. It's another to put the health of others on the line by not explain what could happen. It's sad in the end.

    ReplyDelete
  6. First of all, I found both videos to be very funny. The "side effects" one in particular - may turn into santa claus? Good stuff.

    Anyways, I have seen multiple medicine commercials where at the end the side effects are spoken very quickly. If you pay attention to it (and there are some I have seen multiple times so I know to listen for it), you can hear exactly what the person is saying, but it takes a lot more effort than it should. I think that in these situations companies are finding loopholes. They technically are listing all of the side effects - they just are doing so very quickly, and in a way that will overwhelm many viewers.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I know exactly what you are talking about. Most commercials that use this are ones for prescription medication, which are actually have to meet a certain set of standards. For example, they are required to list major side effects, tell you to talk to your doctor about it, and must reference a print ad where the viewer can find more specific information. I find it interesting that these ads must meet such specific standards, while others are left to their own devices. It also reminds me of car commercials which often have in tiny print at the bottom of the screen "professional on a closed course, do not attempt." It just goes to show that the world that commercials represent are far flung from the reality of everyday life.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes, I feel like I see these commercials all the times. When I hear them it seems like the negative side effects out weight the positive side effects that are supposed to come from the medication. It sounds like on these commercials that the speaker is talking so fast that they don't want the viewers to hear all the negatives or on other commercials like these they'll talk really slow about the negative side effects in order to avoid a lawsuit or something. Either way these commercials are usually irritating.

    ReplyDelete