TV news ads aging with viewers
By Glynn Moore| Columnist
Monday, November 30, 2009

Even as a child, I would watch the evening news on the TV networks. I can remember Chet Huntley and David Brinkley on NBC, and Douglas Edwards and later Walter Cronkite on CBS.

They would tell me about the Cuban missile crisis, the bomb, Francis Gary Powers being shot down and Khrushchev threatening to bury us all.

I wasn't an unusual kid.

Those were extraordinary times, so it made sense to tune in as Russia and the U.S. tried to stare each other down in the arms race, politics changed before our eyes, cities and schools became sites for racial battles, and we all became so afraid of atomic fallout that we wouldn't eat the first snowfall.

I've noticed lately that those programs seem to have grown old with me.

Even though I was their viewer from the day we bought our first television, they have realized that younger people don't keep up with the real news the way they used to.

I say "real news" to differentiate it from the fake news programs, those funny ones on cable that are more carnival sideshows than evening news show.

I don't watch those shows; the world is hard enough to understand without wondering whether what we were just told was the truth or somebody's idea of satire.

The networks have dismissed The Younger Crowd -- you can tell by their commercials these days that they are catering to a silver-haired audience instead.

One evening last week, I watched all three networks' 6:30 p.m. shows and jotted down what they were advertising. Here is the list:

CBS: Over-the-counter pain pill, denture adhesive, scalp itch lotion, heartburn pill, toothpaste, the postal service, family car, cream soup, erectile dysfunction pill, over-the-counter migraine pill, men's suit shop, chicken broth, anti-clotting pill, whole-grain cereal, anti-snoring strips.

NBC: Sinus cold pills, family car, trash bags, heartburn pill, Alzheimer's pill, family car, heat wraps for pain, family car, erectile dysfunction pill, cold pill for people with high blood pressure, anti-clotting pill.

ABC: The postal service, heartburn pill, skin lotion, dry-eyes drops, vitamins for women over 50, cream soup, family car, rechargeable toothbrush, constipation medicine, heat wrap for pain, heartburn pill, Alzheimer's pill, cold pill for people with high blood pressure, itchy scalp lotion and erectile dysfunction pill.

As you can see, the commercials were heavy on medicines that older viewers need, safe cars, comfort foods such as cream soup and cereal that lowers cholesterol.

If they were watching, younger viewers would want a different kind of commercial. They don't care about cereal that lowers cholesterol as much as they do about cereal with fruity shapes.

They don't want to hear about denture adhesives any more than they do the day's news. Being uninformed leads to bad habits: not voting, or voting badly.

If you're in that group, you're probably not even reading this. The networks have given up on you, so I will, too. Goodbye.

And now, for the rest of us, a word from our sponsor.

Reach Glynn Moore at (706) 823-3419 or glynn.moore@augustachronicle.com.

From the Monday, November 30, 2009 edition of the Augusta Chronicle
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