The New York Giants-Green Bay Packers divisional playoff last night had a whopping 40.1 million viewers, with numerous commercial breaks, some amusing, some annoying, some dull. What is the value of those commercials? Do they really allure new customers to their products?
I have a confession to make. I'm not really a football fan, at least not in the usual sense. This all changed when my son began to approach his teenage years. This post is about a common but idiosyncratic little tale about fathers and sons, played out in various ways, I am sure, in millions of households. When my son was little, we did everything together with a closeness that deepened from the moment when I witnessed his birth. But that changed as he grew, with increasing aloofness. Suddenly, it seemed, when I asked about school, his friends, more and more monosyllabic answers would follow. It became more difficult to draw him out, to learn about what's going on in his life.
Then recently I made a curious discovery, while we watched football games. There are so many commercials in between plays that we began a habit of using the mute button -- forgive me advertisers! -- during which we began to talk. This "commercial talk" takes on many forms, from word play to joking about the disconnect between the product being advertised and the context of the scene played out by the actors to what's going on at school, to how his friends are doing. You get the idea.
Am I the only one to experience this hidden value of NY Giants commercial breaks?
A version of this article was published at Dean's Corner at ScienceBlogs.