I just want to watch the Hovis TV ad, I don’t want to take part in it

Sony has launched a patent that could see the ads of the future turned into interactive videogames. But some of us already loathe pop-ups...

Share
Related Topics

TV commercials – they’re hard to love, aren’t they? Seeing Dawn French trying to extract some comedy from Churchill the insurance dog, or Brad Pitt adenoidally muttering “Inevidable” in the Chanel ad, or the bargain-basement sofa commercials, or that irritating girl with the squeaking morning teeth, or the bizarrely self-destroying Go Compare campaign, I sigh with nostalgia for the classic stuff from the 1980s. You know, the Cockburn’s Port ads directed by Alan Parker (“One doesn’t say Cock, one says Co…”), the Paul Weiland ads for Heineken (“The water in Majorca…”), the Smash robots, the fancy production values of the Hovis commercial, the Guinness surfers.

Advertising, George Orwell opined, is no more than “the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket”. It’s not his most incisive remark because he doesn’t explain how the rattling stick persuades pigs to part with their hard-earned cash. But sometimes commercials could be more a pleasure than an incitement to buy; even, dare one say it, a tiny work of cinematic art. Now they’ve gone back to being tiresome interruptions – and they’re just about to get worse.

Sony have just launched a new patent which freezes the blood. Its fancy title is a “system for converting television commercials into interactive networked video games”. If it goes ahead and spends billions on the idea, your favourite TV show will soon be interrupted by commercials which would like you to interact with them. Here, for instance, is an ad for a burger. It’s a bit tedious, but you can speed it up if you click a console and throw an on-screen gherkin into the digital beef roundel. Which would be a laugh if you’re 12 and have limited notions of how to entertain yourself.

For grown-ups, it’s a bit like being kidnapped by technology which, in the middle of (say) Homeland or (say) Downton Abbey, suddenly pokes its blasted head through the TV screen and demands that you play with it. There’s no point in saying “Please come to the end of this commercial break soon, so that I may return to my gripping period drama”, because this is modern Digital Interactive Land, and you’ve got to join in, or suffer the societal freeze-out that awaits the non-faithful.

You know those maddening advertisements on your computer, the ones that pop up randomly and obscure your view of a website, and dink about in front of you like a deranged pixie until you rain curses on them and finally shoo them away? That’s the future of TV ads, ladies and gentlemen, only you won’t be able to get rid of them so easily. And if you’re not careful, they’ll come out of the television and on to your lap and in your face and down your throat until you do what they tell you.

Questionable behaviour

You have to love the jury in the Vicky Pryce trial. Did someone drop a Class A substance in the jury-room tea? Whoever was in charge persuaded them to ask the judge some really daft questions. Should they take into account what the Bible says about wives obeying husbands? (No.) Could they reach a verdict for a reason not presented in court and for which there’s no actual evidence? (No.) I wouldn’t have been surprised if they’d asked “Can we find her neither guilty nor not guilty, just a bit guilty?” or “Does it make a difference that she’s Greek?” or “Is it a defence that she’s totally a Gemini?”

I’ve heard of juries being swayed by emotion or irrelevancy, but not juries unable to grasp basic points of law. I hope someone taped their discussions; they’d make a hilarious Mike Leigh film.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

QA Manual Tester - Agile

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Secondary School Teachers in Ipswich

Competitive & Flexible: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education are l...

Teaching Assistant

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Qualified and/or experienced te...

Nursery Nurses and Assistants

£7 - £8 per hour: Randstad Education Bristol: Qualified nursery nurses and exp...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Scottish polls, the clown who saved Iceland and all about oil

John Rentoul
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories