Ads aren’t what they used to be | Opinion

By Lachlan Durling

To say I’ve taken to the couch during isolation like a duck to water would imply that I had, in fact, left the comfort of the cushions in the first place.

And that would be an incorrect assumption on your part.

No, with streaming services like Stan, Netflix and YouTube all available on the telly, I have become quite accustomed to my spot in the lounge room.

But one thing is missing that just doesn't make the TV experience the same.

The ads.

I mean, sure, you have a pause button, but the use of it would require some sort of will to stop.

Non-stop streaming makes me almost miss the seven-minute long ad breaks I used to curse when I’d want to watch a quick episode of The Simpsons before dinner.

At least they gave you a chance to fill your drink, get some snacks or take a toilet break.

Before we had a seemingly endless supply of shows online, it was the golden age of commercial TV and the magnetic strip that was cassettes and video tapes.

Yes, despite being a gen-Z raised in the era of broadband Wi-Fi, streaming and touch screens, I do in fact know what cassettes, 8-tracks, mini disks, floppy disks, vinyl, hi-speed dubbing, tube tellies and videotapes are.

And just what a skill it was to record your favourite song off Sun FM or 3SR to cassette without ads.

Or the copy of Alice in Wonderland recorded when it was on TV with all the ads left in, so you had to try and fast forward through them and not miss the first 30 seconds when the movie resumed.

But as time went on, those ads I skipped over became more and more brilliant, an almost time capsule stored away in the drawer, somehow not taped over.

We have everything at our fingertips now - Facebook feeds full of photos and videos, YouTube watch lists full of hours upon hours of content and almost every album from every artist available to stream.

But the ads are not the same. On commercial networks we have corporations ruining songs by The Beatles, Madness, J Geils Band, Status Quo and so on.

I mean whoever came up with “Our house, in the middle of our Chemist Warehouse” does not know how residential planning permits work or how to re-write a song.

And targeted online advertising deserves its own column because some of it is a real mess.

I’ve begun to appreciate the ads of my childhood. The jingles we used to previously curse for interrupting the start of Justin Timberlake’s latest single, or the end of Pink’s, as we were recording a tape for the car trip.

Or the ones on the screen that stood between me and the next instalment of The Simpsons.

Then there are the local ads that you know every word of – some of which are still on air on TV and radio, like Peter Ennal’s Cobram Caravans, Arcade Fashions’ “you can’t beat that”, as well as Finer Fruits and Parker Pies’ earworms.

So I switched off my Bluetooth, closed my Spotify and went back to commercial channels and came up with a very short list of the jingles of my childhood.

The most memorable (to me) that would have aired in the GV between 2002-12 (ish, this is no exact science and some are still used today).

Traffik’s “fashion never stops”, Parklake’s “enjoy life at the Parklake”, Sherbourne Terrace’s “we only want the best for you”, Richards Hairdressing’s “do the hair the way you like it”, CarpetCourt’s “we are the different Carpet Court”, Cheesecake Shops’ “munchin’ on a cheesecake”, McPherson Mazda’s “say hello to your new Mazda” (to The Beatles’ Goodbye Hello), Jayell Ford’s “the car you want, the car you need”, Enjo’s “and cleaning we will go” and, while it’s not a jingle, Country Healthcare’s “good on ya, Pa”.

National advertisers, take notice: these are ads that work without ruining songs.

And ones that stick, clearly.

There was also another one to the tune of the Beach Boys’ Barbara Ann. If anyone can remember that, please email me and put me out of my brain-wracking misery.

Until then, I’ll be humming it.

Lachlan Durling is a McPherson Media Group journalist.