With the debates leading up to Decision 2012 behind us, it’s only a few short weeks until all is settled at the polls on November 6th. In that time, however, TV viewers can expect the campaign ads and mudslinging therein to ramp up in last-ditch efforts to sway voters.
Well, according to Bill Ward’s October 23rd article, “A smash hit with television viewers,” in the Star Tribune, a Minnesota-born invention could help TV viewers silence the noise – literally. “Smash Mute, a stand-alone device 200 times bigger than that infernal, impossible-to-find mute button on most remotes, makes it infinitely easier to silence not just political propaganda but any commercial (no more Flo), annoying talking head or even Honey Boo Boo.”
This device, which features a large, circular button that has “SHUT THE #*@% UP!” printed in it, aims to solve the problem of being too slow on the trigger to successfully avoid the annoyances. It’s a clever contraption but I wonder if Smash Mute is solving a “problem” that doesn’t exist. With the ubiquity of DVRs and the fact that – guess what? – TVs already have this capability, it’s questionable how many TV viewers will shell out $25 on a supersized mute button.
Still, Smash Mute’s existence and exposure, along with devices like Dish Network’s Hopper DVR, which allows consumers to set the DVR to automatically skip over ads in playback mode, indicate just how unwelcome some Americans view blaring TV commercials. But Smash Mute makes me question consumers’ overall receptivity to advertising. Yes, it can be a nuisance but it’s one most of us have learned to live with. Is finding the miniature mute button really that hard or are we mostly OK with commercials?
Would you buy a SHUT THE #*@% UP! button? Why or why not? Does Smash Mute’s potential success tell us anything about consumers’ attitude toward advertising? Would we all mute commercials if it were easier? No one ever said we have to like advertising for it to work but does advertising only succeed because we’re too lazy to block it out?