Thursday, May 29, 2008

What... Is The Air Speed Velocity Of An Unladen Swallow?

Regular readers (by which I mean Sid and Doris) may be wondering what I'm doing blogging at half one in the morning. And indeed normally I would save it for a time when, well, anyone was going to read it. But in this case, it's apt to raise the issue during the event that inspired it.

To explain, I'm rather fond of hidden social indicators, the little things in life that demonstrate a wider truth. For years my favourite has been the correlation between the power of the hand dryers at a particular venue and the people you will find therein; for instance, the strongest hand dryers I've ever encountered were in Glasgow Queen Street station, while the weakest were in an independent school in Taunton (and for the record, the ones in Cardiff City Hall are fairly lame...)

In a similar vein, I'm presently watching Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals, something that leads me inexorably to Channel Five. As a fan of all the big American sports, many a night over the last ten years has been spent with Jonny and Josh, Nat and Mike, Russ and Nick and Mark and Andre; indeed, I am one of those rare people who actually saw the opening night of Channel Five back in 1997.

Massively fond of it as I am, I must nevertheless admit that in those early days Five's market was, well... a little restricted. Nowhere was this better reflected than in the advertising, which ranged all the way from chat lines to, erm, more chat lines. Quite seriously, it was not at all unusual at that early stage to have an entire ad break filled with nothing other than entreaties to call hot women in your area.

Mind you, things changed pretty soon; it wasn't long before you were being asked to call hot men too. Around the turn of the millennium it became something of a game, watching the breaks intently waiting for the holy grail, an ad break containing only gay chat lines. It never happened, but there were a few “I've got the first two balls in the lottery” moments...

I mention all this because it occurs to me tonight that we're approaching another such moment of advertising saturation; I've just had three commercials in a row for price comparison sites. I'm not sure what the great cultural significance of this is, but as I've never felt compelled to compare any prices at all, I know it's not working...

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