I’ve written before about the downside of my love for listening to Red Sox games on the radio: the dreaded overplayed ad.
Every year, there’s an ad or two that emerges as an unavoidable irritation. The problem could be a failed attempt at humor, an overly enthusiastic spokesperson or an obnoxious jingle. Whatever the case, when you hear that same ad 10 to 15 times every game over the course of a 162-game regular season, it can drive you batty.
This year’s winner of the “Red Sox Radio Ad I Never Want to Hear Again” Award is the Ford Motor Company. The ad (here’s the TV version) touts the Ford Freedom Sales Event and features the musical stylings of tuxedoed rapper/party master Pitbull.
The song, “Freedom,” is a (very) slightly updated version of the Soup Dragons’ “I’m Free,” which itself is a cover of the Rolling Stones’ 1965 nugget. So the lack of originality is pretty annoying, as are the loud, busy production values.
Then there’s the reference to the “Ford Freedom Sales Event.” It’s not simply a sale; it’s an event. And by the way, shouldn’t an event have a relatively short shelf life — say, one day or maybe a weekend? The Ford Freedom Sales Event has been going on since April. If it were a fetus, it would be nearing its third trimester.
The bottom line: There’s more than enough in this ad to have listeners desperately rushing to turn down the volume whenever it comes on. Doesn’t Ford realize this?
It got me thinking about the effectiveness of repetition in advertising. Sure, you want consumers to hear or see your ad a certain number of times to boost brand recognition. But eventually, you reach the point of diminishing returns. That is, once someone hears your horrible ad X number of times, he starts tuning it out — or worse, turns it off rather than hear it again. Ford has gone far beyond that tipping point.
Last year, fantasy sports providers DraftKings and FanDuel got some negative publicity by bombarding fans with too many ads last fall. If you watched an NFL game, the relentless ad blitz from these two companies was absolutely maddening.
A January 2016 Boston Globe article noted the fallout: “Consumers took to social media to complain about the ad onslaught in that period, a phenomenon known as ‘wear-out’ in the marketing world, Boston University professor Christopher Cakebread said.”
Amusingly, the frequency of these ads actually got the companies into some legal hot water. According to the same Boston Globe article, “New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called out the heavy advertising from DraftKings and rival FanDuel Inc. in his lawsuits seeking to have the companies banned from that state.”
Will Ford face similar legal woes for blanketing Red Sox games with Pitbull’s yapping? Sadly, no. Perhaps payback will have to come in the form of an unsuccessful Ford Freedom Sales Event. One can only hope …