Why Can't Our Ads be Like Italy or France?

Mike Shields over at MediaWeek (congrats on the promotion to senior editor, Mike) writes about how Spike TV has the tremendously innovative concept of making ads actually be interesting. They're going to get us testosterone laden ones of the species to keep from using the channel changer by letting two guys fight, then do something with athlete's foot medication.

When I was a kid, I heard that there were times, in Italy, when people would gather around the TV to watch commercials, commercials that could run for minutes at an appointed time, because they were so well-made and interesting, so full of entertainment, that people would come back to the screen with their snacks to enjoy them as a family. As a teenager in France, I wondered at the whiz-bang ads at the movies, where they showed really interesting stuff, then products that'd been shown on the screen immediately went on sale in the theater (young women carried them up and down the aisles, cigarette-girl style, on trays hung from their necks).

We here in the U.S. have some of the most talented filmic (and video-ic) storytellers in the world. These people can make movies that generate billions of dollars and sells hundreds of millions of tickets and DVDs. So, why is the idea of having some quality entertainment in what's now commercial time such a foreign concept?

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