Advertising has become a normal interruption for consumers from ads in magazines between our articles to the ones on our many screens aimed at our face. It is impossible to go a single day without seeing one of these advertisements. We have been conditioned to accept this fact. Most of them are sometimes enjoyable with clever taglines, flashy art direction, and sometimes a little bit of eye candy to stimulate the senses. But when does an ad become too intrusive or even a little insensitive?
Recently, CNN was playing live coverage from Kyiv, Ukraine during the start of the Russian invasion. With war possibly knocking on the door, the safety of the people in Ukraine was now in jeopardy. CNN streamed the eerie sounds of sirens wailing over the city of Kyiv announcing the coming of uncertainty. This moment was tense and historical only to be abruptly interrupted by the upbeat tune of a country song for an Applebee’s commercial promoting a burger and wing special at an incredibly cheap price. After the commercial was played it was met with criticism from social media about its insensitivity to the timing of what was happening. It even made it as a segment in John Oliver’s show “Last Week Tonight” where he criticized the timing of the ad, going as far as calling it “so aggressively American.” Applebee’s even criticized the airing of their ad. In a statement reported by The Wrap that it should not have aired and were disappointed in the network’s actions. They then paused all ads on the network.
I do not know if all the blame could be put directly on CNN, the ad spots needed to be filled and Applebee’s paid for that spot because a lot of people will watch breaking news. Sometimes we just do not know what the news will be about. But that brings me back to my original question, when does advertising become too intrusive? During such critical breaking news, ads should be paused. Then we can start asking ourselves the next question, when is too much, too much?