A new video ad for Grasshopper is designed to penetrate your shopping consciousness even while you fast-forward through commercials. Take it as a rather feeble attempt to counter the behavior that is going to have a huge, and detrimental, effect on video entertainment via the Internet and television.

Grasshopper, a company that offers virtual phone systems, has taken the approach that it is better to craft a commercial that can be fast-forwarded and still get across its message. The head of it's cartoon Grasshopper stays centered on the screen throughout the commercial, the sweet spot where you focus your attention while fast-forwarding.


Making commercials that work even at fast-forward speed is an increasing popular tactic which you can identify by watching the screen as you f-f. Does the brand logo and/or name appear clearly throughout the commercial? Is the offer/pitch in readable text, even at double-speed?

Not everyone in the ad industry thinks that fast-forwarding is a bad thing, though. A TiVo executive recently told Online SPIN that he believes that viewers are engaged with the commercial as they fast-forward through it.

This makes some sense to me, as I usually read during commercials, but when I f-f, I watch the screen, if only to play the game of trying to hit 'play' at exactly the right moment. I suck at that game, by the way.

Other companies have taken the approach of crafting advertainments that are too amusing to fast forward through. Progressive's Flo series and Geico's gekko are two that come to mind. Sadly, some of the most entertaining are huge failures because viewers don't remember what company was being advertised. That is a no-no in the advertising world.

The danger to the industry is that we've become accustomed to pay for the shows we watch in a very backwards way -- the price of each item we buy includes the cost of advertising on the shows we watch. You didn't think television was free, did you? You pay Katie Couric's salary with that Viagra or Boniva prescription.

With dwindling advertising dollars we can expect lower production values, fewer scripted shows, and lots more turgid-crap reality shows. The alternative? Paying more for HBO and others that produce original entertainment.

Enjoy that fast-forward button now. You'll pay for it later.

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