Awake? Good, Let’s Watch Some Advertising

Nune Hakhverdyan

Art critic, journalist

It’s no secret that Armenian TV companies are trying to be more light-hearted, energetic and not as wearisome as in the past. The stations perhaps assume that their core audience are tired people who gather in front of the screen to shake of their weariness, and for this reason there’s no need to overload their life with meaningless and anachronistic seriousness. The average TV viewer has the following mandatory attributes: slippers, a sofa and a lot of free time — to watch the screen. 

If we add to this the fact that every viewer is a potential consumer (of goods, services and sermons), it turns out that television is a space for people who have replaced their shoes with slippers and are tired of physical and intellectual work, where their worn-out bodies and souls come across colorful images, light-hearted and cheerful remarks, and advertising offers. Everything is being done for this interaction to counteract the weariness, and for people to be as tense as little as possible in attributing meaning to what they’ve seen (the images are pretty, smooth and easy on the eyes). At the end of the day, let the tired man relish the color and light-heartedness, while the channel earns an extra buck — by showing them advertising. 

This logic is particularly stressed in morning talk shows, which openly remind viewers that they are, first and foremost, an infantile mass of advertising consumers. This mass has woken up in the morning already tired, is not rushing to work and has a great demand for advertising.

The leader in the Armenian TV industry in high density of advertising and light-heartedness of information is without a doubt Armenia TV. The daily program Bari Luys, Hayer (“Good Morning, Armenians!“) probably took off from the wish of the placement of advertisers’ money and not from the need to transmit information to people awake in the morning. The program begins, pauses and continues with blocks of advertising so abundant that there isn’t any time left to say anything else. It’s important to note that when the time allotted for commercials is up, the program hosts immediately get to work advertising the same advertisers’ products in their speech (without the visuals) and in the same order as in the allotted time. In addition, they try to attribute personal colors and styles (presumably, a humorous touch) to the hardened formats of commercials for laundry detergent, restaurants and hair salons. 

It seems Armenia TV is saying, “You saw? Well, now also listen.” 

And so it is that the first half of the program is dedicated entirely to advertising. This includes promoting the hosts and the channel itself, which is expressed through an astrologist’s reading (the hosts sometimes don’t agree with what was read, they deny it or wax lyrical about their rich personal experience), as well as talking about the weather (also with personal observations and striving to be entertaining).

This approach (passing unimportant information through a personal prism) is an act of self-promotion. For example, saying, I’m unable to stop smoking for a long time, but if I decide to do so, I would have to stop drinking coffee too and move on to tea and it would be good if the person beside me also drank tea, so that I wouldn’t be tempted and finally stop smoking for good. This information is important only for the admirers of the program host (whose name, by the way, doesn’t appear in the credits) who glorify their idol’s every thought. 

The program “Good Morning, Armenians!” has its segments (medical, culinary and so on), and each segment has its advertisers. And again the advertising product is shown at the beginning, then talked about and thanked. It can even be said that, in fact, it’s the advertisers that dictate the segment topics. Say, there’s a treatment to fight hair loss, so a show is developed on this. The mode of paying for this type of infomercial probably fits in Armenia TV’s advertising package, which includes a commercial, advertising on the show and so on. As a result of which it becomes the core of the show, while the rest (talking with guests, reporting light news) are appendages to the grand advertising package. 

It can confidently be said that Armenia TV is a channel that has prudent management, concerned only about increasing cash flows and their generous placement. Airtime, actually, is nothing (only a substance of air), and Armenia TV sells its “nothing” quite successfully. But the question is, who’s it selling?

Advertising is wound around the necks of people awake in the morning not rushing to work. People watch it and immediately rush to avail of the advertising offers — go to the store, apply hair loss treatment, or go to a restaurant or a hair salon. In short, to do light-hearted things that don’t wear them out. 

Nune Hakhverdyan

The views expressed in the column are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Media.am.

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