Analyzing the Construction of Television Advertisements
For my research project, I chose to research television commercials on the United Paramount Network, more commonly known as UPN, which is channel 13 in my area. I chose this station for two main reasons. Firstly, UPN is currently in trouble, both financially, and programming-wise. The reason is related to its wandering demographic focus during primetime, because of the wide ranging variety of shows it airs. UPN’s current lineup is geared on different nights toward market segments. On Monday’s, its lineup consists primarily of African-American sitcoms, Tuesdays, towards African-American women, science fiction fans with “Enterprise,” and related shows are on Wednesdays, young men with “WWE Smackdown,” on Thursdays, and a demographic that can change by the week with its Friday movie. Therefore, it lacks a cohesive, loyal audience base on any given night, and has difficulty luring advertisers. The second reason I chose UPN is because it is a station I hardly ever watch, in fact, I do not recall the last time there was anything of interest to me on the station. Prior to working on this project, I had no real picture of the types of television shows, or commercials aired on the network.
Unlike the major networks such as ABC, NBC or CBS, the UPN does not have any daytime soap operas such as “All My Children” or “Young And The Restless.” Instead, I felt it had something that would be a suitable substitute, the “Montel Williams” show, which airs weekdays from 11 am to noon. After watching for just a short time, it was clear that the “Montel Williams” show is geared toward stay at home mothers. The show deals with topics ranging from family problems, and dealing with difficult life issues, to psychics and everything in between.
For my prime-time show, I selected “Star Trek: Enterprise,” a science-fiction and fantasy show geared toward teenage and young adult males. I admit, long ago, I myself was a big fan of its predecessor, “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” but ever since that show ended, I lost all interest in the “Star Trek” genre, and had never watched an episode of the new “Enterprise.” UPN airs “Star Trek: Enterprise” each Wednesday from 8 to 9 pm, and in case you miss it, the week’s episode is then repeated on Sunday’s at the same time.
In order to try to get some consistency, I chose three consecutive Wednesdays to watch both shows. The dates for these shows were May 14, 21 and 28. I tried to spread out evenly the number of commercials I chose for analysis each week, and to be as random as possible in selecting the commercials.
As I had expected, the majority of commercials during the airings of “Enterprise” were geared toward young men. I sampled 3 car commercials, one each from Lexus, Chrysler and Dodge. All three featured male voiceovers, and entirely Caucasian models. The Chrysler commercial was the only one to feature a woman driver, and some children,...