by | Feb 24, 2014

By Trea Byrnes


Ah, the Olympics.  How I love them, no matter what the season.  It’s always a downer when the two weeks of constant barrage of young, healthy, elite athletes with unpronounceable names littered with consonants comes to an end. Although in my normal non-Olympic life I have weaned myself completely off of TV, I will admit to unabashedly and obsessively watching the Olympic games.  It doesn’t matter what the events are, but I will sit in front of the TV for hours, no matter what I really should be doing.

In the world of fancy television options, our household is essentially Luddite by choice.  We have basic cable but no DVR or special channels that somehow enable us to escape the commercials littering the landscape of primetime. Returning to primetime every night for the past two weeks watching the Olympics punctuated with rampant advertisements has been an exasperating culture shock.

What have I learned in the past two weeks while watching the Olympics?  Well, most importantly, I obviously need a new car.  A BMW, Cadillac, Nissan, Toyota or something along those lines has been driven home (pun intended) every 7 minutes or so.  The running joke in our house has become, “Oh look, another car commercial.”  In actuality, we DO need a new car, still driving an 18-year-old Honda Accord that coughs and sputters in the cold like a geriatric poodle.

Obviously, my young and impressionable offspring have also been privy to the fine experiences of the Olympic games, both the athletic events and the important messages the advertising companies are trying so hard, by dint of repetition, to drive home (I just can’t seem to stop using that verb).  As my 9-year old put it, “If they would just stop the commercials, I would happily go and purchase a car just to make it all go away.”

But which car is the best one?  Which one do I NEED to make my life complete?  I can fix any relationship doldrums I might be having by switching to a Diesel BMW. If I want to be an arrogant American who thinks two weeks of vacation a year is better than having the whole month of August off (WHAT?), I will definitely get myself a Cadillac. If I were to drive a Chevy Tahoe, my babysitter will try to overcharge me.  No thanks.  They already cost a second mortgage to just go out to dinner and a movie.

Again, I asked my sons what they have taken away from these two weeks of immersion in vehicle advertisements, because I still remain confused which vehicle is best and why. My sons reportedly learned that if you get a BMW, all women will love you.  They learned that if you get a Nissan, you’ll get excited while counting back from five, and a Toyota will satisfy the dead presidents. So we continue to debate which one of these qualities best suits our family’s current needs.

Although the car commercials dominated the two weeks, I don’t want to neglect the other companies who so valiantly plied their products again and again.  My boys learned well:  If you buy Chobani, you’ll become an Olympian.  If you buy Jif peanut butter, you’ll become a really good Olympian, and if you eat McDonalds chicken nuggets, you will obviously become an Olympian who bites their medal.

So does this tell me the car manufacturers have way too much money to spend on advertising?  Or just the opposite, that they are somewhat desperate and need to boost their sales?  Our family truly does need to look for a new vehicle, but none of these car commercials have made a dent in my thoughts of what kind we need or want.

Do you think the car manufacturers would be disappointed to learn that their millions of dollars spent inundating me with their product did not influence me at all?  That actually, it really made me determined not to even consider their products?  Nah, me neither.  At least the sporting events, when they were shown amidst the commercials, were fabulous, and, most importantly, Bob Costas’ eye infection cleared up!