by Duke

So this is a bit of a rant, inspired by the “mute” button on my TV remote.

Like so many Canadians, I watch a fair bit of TV. Like the majority of Canadians, I find most of the ads deeply insulting and even depressing. There are gems out there (the eyebrow kids from Cadbury were funny for the first couple runs), but for the most part they rely on pitch points that have been around for centuries – hyping up the product to unreal levels, “Bouncing Negatives” (the presentation of solutions against objections, a.k.a. being pushy), The “Jones Effect” (making sure you know everybody else is doing it, so you’d better keep up), etc.

But the #1 technique is still just shouting. Taking a cue from the record industry, advertisers are getting louder all the time. The audio in TV ads is so compressed and juiced that dynamic range is drastically reduced, making them across much louder than the show you’re watching.

I know TV isn’t really that important, but when I’m craning to understand what Tim Roth is saying on “Lie to Me” and then the ads come on, I get beaned with decibel levels that would get a DJ fired.

It’s just like flipping through iTunes. Can’t speak for everybody, but when a song comes on that’s significantly louder than the previous one, my first instinct is to skip it fast (before I lose the ability to hear above 10kHz).

The purpose of advertising is to draw your audience in; it’s the reason TV was invented. Lambasting your audience with a screaming, bombastic pitch will send them away. I hit the “mute” button, and that’s only because I can’t afford TiVo.

The easy thing to do would be to stop watching TV altogether.

Advertisers & record producers are endangering their own livelihoods. Keep smashing those dynamic range levels and at some point your audience will hit “mute.” Where’s the benefit in that?

See also: The Distrustful Nature of Leveraging Loudness

and The Decibel Heap – a List of Loudness

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