Channel surfers might overlook benefit of watching commercials

TV commercials. Most people hate them with a passion only surpassed by their ire for Satan’s favorite confection: candy corn. In fact, we all know someone, possibly even ourselves, who begins compulsively flipping channels the microsecond advertisements grace the screen.But why? As sacrilegious as it may sound, commercials play a much bigger role in everyday life than most people think.

First of all, commercials give us pop culture icons who can define generations. Who among us wouldn’t be able to pick out Jared?

“I used to weigh 2,400 tons, but I lost it all thanks to a combination of Subway and super-secret-sandwich-funded liposuction.” In fact, if we came across an American who didn’t know who Jared Fogle was, we would wonder what kind of industrial-strength oven cleaner they have been huffing for the past seven years. A little pop culture IQ never hurt anyone, and people might be surprised how much they can gain from commercials.

Television advertisements can also work the fascinating magic of promoting a business owner to the level of “trusted friend” in the eyes of the consumer. This process is usually best performed by a local advertising magnate who has been airing commercials in a certain metropolitan area for decades.

For example, in my hometown of Houston, we’ve got a guy named Mattress Mack. He is a furniture kingpin who has been providing the Houston area with affordable couches and recliners for quite a while. His commercials follow a very simple formula: Talk really, really fast about his wares and end every ad with the phrase, “Gallery Furniture saves you money!” while shoving a fistful of dollars toward the camera.

Now, I’m not sure what Mattress Mack babbles on about during his crazy, supposed furniture-related rants. Maybe he talks about how his customers owe him their souls and seven years of hard labor after purchasing a bedroom set. Maybe he insists that Gallery Furniture reserves the right to sell any and all credit card numbers that pass through its system to the Polish mafia. Quite frankly, I don’t care what it is. All I know is that it is my life’s mission to purchase a La-Z-Boy and/or a big screen TV from Mack.

Mattress Mack isn’t just a business owner, he’s like a friend. I’ve grown up with him on the TV screen. Now, I wouldn’t accept fizzy, strange-colored drinks from a lot of people, but Mack makes the cut.

Lastly, nothing beats a finely crafted TV commercial. While the airwaves are filled with sleazy car salesmen and advertisements for technical schools trying oh-so-delicately to pass themselves off as real universities, seeing a good commercial makes suffering through all of the crap seem worth it. I get the same feeling of satisfaction in the pit of my stomach after a good commercial as I do upon finishing a good book or a good movie. For reference, see virtually every Budweiser ad that ever aired during the Super Bowl.

Whether it is sharpening one’s pop culture acumen, bringing an old friend into one’s home or having a chance to view a great ad, TV commercials are much more than meets the eye. So next time, before we hit the remote, think of all the things we might be missing.

David Hall is a freshman news-editorial journalism major from Kingwood. His column appears Wednesdays.