VH1: Leader of the TV Marketing Revolution

I have a confession. This little secret has a history of stopping conversations and shocking friends, but here goes. I’m a VH1 junkie.

It’s a shameful obsession, especially for a member of the under-thirty crowd. And this is not your channel-surfing, drawn in by My Fair Brady type of one-night stand. No, my easy-listening love affair involves Ti-Voing Best Week Ever and entering I Love the 70’s Volume II on my weekly calendar. For shame!

As someone who’s painfully aware of VH1’s yuppie reputation, I was astonished to discover that my favorite one-trick pony has partnered with an underwear hawker to pioneer the next frontier of television marketing. Yes, VH1 and Hanes have set out to conquer the world by thwarting DVR users everywhere!

I discovered VH1’s sneaky plans when I was blissfully fast-forwarding a recorded episode of I Love the 70’s Volume II (we’re talking some good stuff, folks — a regular Burt Reynolds’ mustache segment, a discussion of Leif Garrett’s heartthrob status and clips from Rock ‘n Roll High School)! Catching a glimpse of the show’s Technicolor logo, I hit “play” faster than an old West gunslinger and immediately heard – a Hanes commercial.

That’s right. Hanes harnessed the I Love the 70’s logo and crafted some cheesy message about how comfort never goes out of style. My annoyance quickly shifted to awe. Hanes had managed to do what no other company has yet accomplished: it stopped my DVR commercial evasion mid-skipping session!

It’s such a brilliantly simple premise: Make it look the show is returning, and commercial skippers will stop. Feeling like I’d been hit by a ton of bricks, I watched the whole Hanes presentation, including the scene with that annoying little rugrat shaking his tighty-whities!

After getting tricked several more times (there are 10 shows in the series; it’s brilliant, I tell you), I went through several stages of understanding. There was astonishment that I had been hooked again, followed by a feeling of betrayal from VH1, followed by a begrudging admiration for the gutsy move, followed by a buoyant faith in my profession. Like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, it seems that marketing will always find a way to survive.

I guess time will tell whether consumers’ retention will outweigh their aggravation, but I am smugly satisfied to know that VH1 is leading us in the next marketing revolution.

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