Economists teach a principle called the Theory of Diminishing Marginal Utility. This term throws students off because of three words: theory, which means it will be hard; marginal, which means increment or change in; and utility, which means usefulness. Put all together, it means, as I told my students, which they then remembered the rest of their lives, "If you eat too many bananas, eventually you will barf." In other words, if we try a new entree at a restaurant, the first time it will taste fantastic. The second time, a little less. The tenth time, we're sick of it and want something new.
The same principle should be taught to TV ad executives and sponsors. Ads that were funny and clever when they were first launched eventually grew tiresome. Like the mean lady and the "where's the beef" phrase which entered our general language. But we got sick of it. Jared's ads for Subway grew a little wearisome, though they apparently really worked for Subway and imprinted on our minds the vast differences between the healthiest Subway sandwiches and the oceans of fat and calories in many fast (fat) foods. Here are a few suggestions I am offering to advertisers and sponsors free of charge, no consulting fee involved:
- Discount Tires. The mean old lady chucking a tire through the window of a Discount Tire store was really funny the first few times. After the ten zillionth, not so funny.
- Geico lizard. Minimize it or put it to rest. Enough is enough. I like the car driving cats and dogs, though. They're new.
- Progressive Insurance girl. She's cute, personable, vivacious. But ten million times a day? Please!
- R. C. Willey (UT) furniture spokeswoman: Again, she's cute and personable. But so help me I'm tired of seeing her a million times a day, often several ads in sequence in a one hour program.
- Buxom lady peddling shaving lotion. You know who I mean. Coca-Cola pioneered in using sex to sell Coke decades and decades ago and sex has since been used to sell everything, whether there is any connection between the buxom, and often excessively bare, lady and the product being advertised. Oh, I forgot, any beautiful lady can sell anything from hubcaps to hair spray.
- Miller Lite ads. Over and over and over and over. Must sell beer or they wouldn't make the rest of us nauseated continually.
- Adam Haysbert. Nice guy, but again, Principle of Diminishing Marginal Utility set in months and months ago. Freshen up your ads.
- South Town Auto Mall Ads in Salt Lake City. Crank up the volume, find the loudest and most obnoxious person to sell cars, and annoy us a million times a day.
- Ambulance chasing lawyers. Over and over and over. Obviously make money to afford all these ads.
The Curmudgeonly Professor has nothing against ads, in principle. But are advertisers and ad agencies so tone deaf, unimaginative, tight-fisted, and inconsiderate of the public that they can't come up with a new and innovative wrinkle, spokesperson, gimmick, or something to relieve our tedious boredom of same old, same old, same old. The Principle of Diminishing Marginal Utility set in long ago on some ads, as we got sick of them months and even years ago. Just a suggestion. No charge.