Remember the good old days of Doordarshan? There were hardly any ads during the programs and very few commercial breaks to speak about. Advertising was never in your face. That was because it was a state-run TV and India had not yet opened up its economy for the outside world. Today, it’s a different story altogether. There are at least 4 commercial breaks during a half-hour run of a program, each amounting to 2 to 8 minutes max. Half the time of the program is dedicated to commercials.

We’re not saying commercials are a bad thing. Not at all. We understand the compulsions of endorsements and sponsorship. It’s the reason TV has become as big as it has. Advertisers have to understand that viewers don’t want to see ads. It’s a compulsion they can do without. But for advertisers, their products are primary and they want to derive as much mileage out of sponsorship as they can.

But there is such a thing as an oversell. If you as a brand are forcing yourself upon the consumer, it can work against the very purpose of advertising. More exposure does not mean more sales. On the contrary, it can be detrimental to your objective. Today, brands have encroached into spaces they should have left aside. For example, program hosts announce the sponsors before and after every show. Gifts are given to participants and brand propositions are reiterated alongside.

In films, brand use is shown as part of the story. On TV, special sections are created to showcase the products. So how far will brands go to promote their products? Slowly, brands are making inroads into the main content featured and slowly but surely we see an organized effort by brands to capture as much viewer time as possible.

This endorsement business has reached such a point where broadcasting companies and other platforms like OTT and YouTube are offering ad-free broadcasts for a premium. This clearly shows viewers are not interested in seeing ads. They just want to see good content without interruption. It’s time for brands to take note and limit their urge to encroach upon the individual and private space of viewers. This will help create a balance otherwise as the trend goes, soon there will be hardly any takers for advertising.

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