Everyone’s a Critic: Stop with the ads, please
August 23rd, 2011
04:04 PM ET

Everyone’s a Critic: Stop with the ads, please

We’re back after a brief hiatus, ready to dole out some tough love for our favorite pop culture industries. A few weeks back, I talked about the idea of proper promotion, marketing a show based on its own merits.

Today, I’m focusing on another side to that coin: Hollywood’s tendency to overload a potential audience with promos for TV shows or movies.

Whitney Cummings, a comedian who some fans might recognize from “Chelsea Lately” or the Comedy Central roasts, is the creative force behind two new sitcoms premiering this fall.

The first is the CBS show “2 Broke Girls.” Cummings doesn’t star in this one; she’s a co-creator and co-producer. You might have seen an ad for the show or read an article about it. I’m mildly intrigued to watch it.

The second is NBC’s “Whitney.” Cummings does star in this one; she also created and produces it. You have definitely seen an ad (or three dozen) for the show. I have absolutely no desire to watch it.

The problem isn’t necessarily with Cummings’ acting or the different formats (they’re both multi-camera sitcoms). It’s that I’m almost sure that “Whitney” is going to be abysmal, and the NBC marketing department has provided me with an abundance of evidence to back that up.

There are the constant commercials; the lower-third advertisements (those things that pop up on your screen during another show); the ongoing ads-designed-to-look-like-interviews in entertainment magazines. All of them scream, “Watch this show… please!”

When a network or studio begins promoting something this much, it starts to reek of desperation, as if the company knows they have a bomb on their hands but are hoping the marketing blitz will draw in enough viewers to overcompensate. But each ad just makes me more wary of the final product.

(The following story is told with tremendous amounts of hindsight, but no names, places or timelines have been changed to protect the innocent… or not-so-innocent.)

When word of the “Green Lantern” movie first came out, I was super amped to see it. When the first ads started to appear, I was still all in on the idea. Then the full-length trailer showed up. And the next one. And the print ads. And each time I saw another promo for the movie, that “oh no, this is going to be awful” feeling grew a little larger.

It’s quite possible that “Whitney” and “2 Broke Girls” will be completely equal based on whatever method you use to measure the success of comedy. (Don’t worry, I’m working on a standardized formula.) But at least with “2 Broke Girls,” I’m not entirely sure yet how it’s going to work out.

With “Whitney,” I can’t chalk up one or two lame jokes as aberrations. At this point, I’m pretty sure the promos have shown us nearly every single joke in the pilot episode, and none of them struck me as funny.

Your show or movie might be great....and it might be terrible. But if you try to shove it down my throat with an overpowering marketing barrage, you’re undercutting any anticipation I might have about actually watching it, and you’re showing me enough footage so that I feel justified in that position.

I know that shows and movies need to generate buzz and build an audience before a premiere. But there IS such a thing as bad publicity, and going overboard with promotion is one of the most certain ways to get it.

soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. hitandrun7

    Yes, advertising has gotten to be too much. But it's not just for new shows, it's for all of them. But,like someone above mentioned- you can very easily turn the TV off, and go grab a book. It won't kill you.

    Will the show be a hit? Who knows? I hope it is, just so all of you nay-sayers look like fools for trash talking it.

    August 25, 2011 at 7:01 am | Report abuse |
  2. Tabetha

    I agree! Too many commercials and I'm sick of it already!

    August 24, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Tanya

    I've been having this same sinking feeling about "New Girl" on Fox. The same snippets of the first episode played in different order. I pretty much know every "joke" by heart, and I'm convinced I've already seen the pilot through the promos alone.
    Oh look she's dancing awkwardly! haha.
    She's wiggling her glasses and making funny sounds. haha.
    She's a beautiful dork. haha... oh boy.

    August 24, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Big fan

    I'll just park it on the couch, turn down the sound and slap it silly for a half hour, maybe even hit the live TV pause button if she makes just the right face.

    August 24, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Liz

    When a show or movie is over-advertised (as in the case of Whitney), all I can think is "I can't wait for this show to air so we can be done with these stupid commercials!!!"

    I don't know if anyone remembers the ads for Friends before it premiered. It, too, was over promoted – but the ads were kind of intriguing at first; they were slowly "opening a present" for the viewers. And although they were ultimately correct in assuming the public was going to love the show, it took a season and a half for me to even give it a try because I was so flippin' sick of the advertisements.

    August 24, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sammy

    @If it's on between "Community" and "The Office," it'll run a full season even if it's not very good. See: "Outsourced."

    See The Paul Reiser Show. I bet Whitney lasts just as long. They are betting on shows based on the assumed popularity of someone. No one had cared about Paul Reiser in 15 years, and relatively few people know who this Whitney person is (I certainly didn't). With no apparent storyline, no one else will care about it. I give it 3 episodes before cancellation.

    August 24, 2011 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  7. emil

    The only things I find more offensive than that are the new comericals that have the banner appear on the bottom to click for free samples or more information, which is just stupid in a very Starship Troopers totally called it kind of way. No longer being able to fast foreward through comercial swhen watching a program on demand, even thought there are MORE commercials inserted in the programs depending on the channel. And though slightly off topic, online ad that preceed a video. I hate clicking on a video oly to have to wait for the stupid ad to load, then have to wait longer cause the video hasn't loaded at all. All it does is make me want to find the product and destroy it. It's literally a way to anger someone and then give them a target for destruction. They just keep finding new and creative ways to tell us how to waste our money.

    It also doesn't hurt that the author is right and this show is reatard. 40 year old canned laughter, PC humor for brain dead shlubs.

    If you want to fight back. READ A BOOK. Go to a small bookstore and get a cheap used classic. Just cause technology has advanced, it doesn't make it better. Buy a book, go outside to a park, sit under a tree and READ. Unplug yout TV at night, and READ. Make your own entertainment! Live your own life! Be your own hero! Show the world how much better you are than everyone else!

    August 24, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  8. John Russo

    All promos get annoying after you see them 20 times. The show looks funny to me.

    August 24, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  9. Brian

    When I was little, "Don't Groan," movies and TV shows certainly had to promote themselves, but it wasn't a constant bombardment like it is now. I know there are so many channels competing for your attention, but this has got to stop. Even a really good show gets hurt by over promotion. And the ads that appear on the bottom of my screen, make me feel like I'm seeing little people during an Alcohol Withdrawal.

    August 24, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  10. OhNoYouDidnt

    You know there's a button on the remote that turns off the TV right? I feel so bad you've been forced to watch all the promos that are coming out for new shows! How dare they promote them! You poor thing!

    August 24, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • be quiet

      oh shut up. the writer is just doing their job. I'm sure nobody comes to your job and slaps the dick out of your mouth.

      August 24, 2011 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      Are you mildly retarted? It's not one station its all of them they all doo this. by the way the only thing keeping me from asking if you are fully retarted is if tha you managed to turn your PC on today. Baby steps I guess.

      August 24, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. be quiet

    completely agree with this article. Whitney looks awful already. The party throwing girl says "Where's the cupcake?" and low and behold, Whitney is taking a bite out of the cupcake! Get it? Because it's the same cupcake the girl is looking for, and it's missing, because WHITNEY IS EATING IT!!! Oh my god, I can barely contain my hysterical laughter!

    August 24, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  12. JJ Jones

    Whitney will be the female version of the Paul Reiser Show.

    August 24, 2011 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  13. Paul1963

    If it's on between "Community" and "The Office," it'll run a full season even if it's not very good. See: "Outsourced."

    August 24, 2011 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
  14. Mmmmm.....

    Whitney's hot.

    August 24, 2011 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
  15. Stull Here

    I really think NBC will own up to making an error here will pull the plug on this thing quick...her standup is just unwatchable and the guy they cast as her boyfriend couldn't be more unappealing. Reading some other reviews...this one is going to set a network back that is already in trouble.

    August 24, 2011 at 1:46 am | Report abuse |
  16. MB

    My thought exactly (after I saw the Whitney-dressed-up-in-a-nurse's-costume promo): "But each ad just makes me more wary of the final product."

    August 23, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  17. LorrainE Ortego

    Enough,enough,I would not waste my time on this trash

    August 23, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Linda

    they have shown the promos 10 million times and I haven't laughed once.. doesn't interest me!

    August 23, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  19. BadBrad

    I can't remember when the networks started doing their on-screen promos, but its now become so pervasive I find it actually ruins the continuity of the programming. Its so distracting to have some promo banner constantly flashed across the bottom of the screen, usually during some dramatic point in a storyline, and especially if a scene is occurring in a dark setting or at night. TNT, you're on notice!! Do these network flacks think our attention spans are so short that we have to be constantly reminded about some other upcoming show or series that they have to visually smack us over the head to remind us? BBC America has to be the worst. They plaster oversized promos in the corner of the screen for an entire show when a 5 or 10 second exposure before or after a commercial break would more than suffice. I can understand a small opaque network logo being visible throughout a program. With so many channels available, its often helpful to know what channel or network you're currently watching, but this visual promo oversell has become way too invasive. Why can't they just be content that we're watching their programming in the moment without pushing their other shows in our faces while we're trying to enjoy what's on right then?

    August 23, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Anomic Office Drone

    Overhyping is dangerous. Not even good shows can live up to it. 'Whitney' looks like it would be lucky if 13 episodes aired, very lucky.

    August 23, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Alex

    The more you have to advertise, the less there is worth seeing. This applies to people, too.

    August 23, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  22. mejazzbo

    Over-promoted TV shows are like over-promoted movies, They stink. Usually the best scenes are in the commercials.

    August 23, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Bill

    This guy is spot-on with the over-promotion. You know which show I want to see the least in the fall? Whitney. Know which one is most intriguing? American Horror Story. There is a HUGE difference in the way they are promoting themselves, which I'm sure has something to do with it. Sometimes, less is more, Madison Avenue bozos.

    August 23, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  24. NYCMovieFan

    Thanks for this article- completely agree with you on the ovepromotion. We got tons of "Heroes" promos a couple of years ago, and that show was just bad. "Whitney" looks really bad too, like a rancid "Seinfeld" – not going to watch it for sure, not sure who is the target demographic??? If you can't tell that basic thing, then it's in BIG trouble. Expect to see it cancelled really early, like after episode 1 airs.

    August 23, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  25. alecia

    @BL its just something that got started. Doesnt meam anything and @portalpunk is usually firsty! with a rhyme!

    August 23, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  26. MrBCreepy

    I agree with Captain Slapaho

    August 23, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Mark

    i disagree

    August 23, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cricket

      I also. It looks to be witty and fresh and I'm looking forward to it.

      August 23, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jessse

      Witty? In these previews she has terrible comic timing, and awful delivery. In her stand up she relies solely on feminine shock value.. which is the lowest form of standup in my opinion. By this I mean a woman saying things you expect to hear from girls that are promiscuous, only being said in a proud way (i.e. "I sleep around, I have VD, hehehe). Sarah silverman can pull this off very well, thats it, the rest are just plain sad and lame.
      That being said.. without the ability to utilize her shock value on a station like NBC, this show will fall flat, and will only be enjoyed by people who tend not to experience comedy outside of these -1/2 season then cancelled- sitcoms. I give it 8 episodes before it is cancelled.

      August 24, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Vip

    I agree with the writer.

    August 23, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Captain Slapaho


    August 23, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • BL

      I cannot for the life of me understand why being the first commenter on any story is anybody's goal. What's the big deal? Who the heck cares?

      August 23, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Rogers

      The real aim in being first is to set the tone of the thread with an astute observation or pithy comment, or perhaps even be funny. Merely being first with nothing else to say is a real letdown and a buzzkill for your fellow bloggers. Put more thought into it next time, will you?

      August 23, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Colonel Slapyomama

      Soldier, being first without adding anything witty is like throwing your grenade without removing the pin. No point.

      August 23, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • xjdavid

      Wow, guys. The only thing lamer than posting "First" is commenting on how lame it is to post "First." I'll bet you guys correct grammer and punctuation, too, huh? Or berate someone for asking "Is this news?"

      August 23, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Captain Slapaho

      I pretty much hang out in mom's basement doing bong hits til CNN posts a new article.

      August 23, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • xjdavid

      Me too! Small world.

      August 23, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Evel Knievel

      No, around here the point to being first is to just say, "First". You hom0s with the "you should be saying something witty and leading the discussion" crap need to go somewhere a little more heady than these blogs.

      August 24, 2011 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |

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