This Is Why You’re Constantly Seeing That Annoying Burger King Commercial
Every weeknight you fall asleep in your ragged, old recliner after work. It’s 11:00 p.m. and you awake to the jingle of that annoying Burger King commercial again. With a half can of soda and tortilla crumbs on your chest, you wonder why that damn Whopper song continues to reverberate in your cranium.
Surprise! You’ve just been targeted.
You probably didn’t know that broadcast television advertising has a method to its madness.
I was a part of that madness from 2018 to 2019 after I left the newsroom. It was the first phase of my transition out of journalism — even if it was only shifting to a quiet office on the other end of the news station.
The concept of broadcast television is simple; provide programming and generate revenue through advertising.
Think traffic center sponsorships, local utility company spots, website banner ads, and those preposterous political ads.
The Game of Broadcast TV Sales
No. Just like every sales gig, there’s cold calling and getting ghosted. You might drop into a business and immediately get kicked out. You may also get calls at midnight screaming about your prices.
Hey, it’s all a part of the game. You need to do the hard part of selling them your TV station.
Alright, now before I go further you need to understand this archaic business model. For the younger readers, we’re talking about broadcast TV, not cable, not streaming TV. I’m talking rabbit ears, grandpop rotting in his chair TV.
Broadcast TV consists of big-name shows like Good Morning America and The Today Show. Then you have your syndicated programs like the Rachael Ray Show or Days of Our Lives.
Gen Z, football games are still controlled by broadcast TV companies. You know, the big dinosaur cameras on the sideline.
You most likely haven’t heard of the others because nobody watches them, seriously. I swear people put broadcast TV on for their dogs when they go to work.
However, how do sales reps determine how well a show can sell?
It’s based on rating points. Ratings are reported by Nielsen. Nielsen asks a sample size of people in a specific area to set up a box on their TV that records what they’re watching and when.
It isn’t like viewing your stats on a video game. It’s a complex system that has aged like milk.
With all that data, Nielsen can report back to the station on its performance. Then your suited-up boss asks you to go sell.
The Reason You’re Seeing That Burger King Commercial
Alright, so I was 23 in 2018 and honestly didn’t watch TV except for our news channel.
Here’s the catch. TV existed for longer than I’ve been alive. I was a millennial trying to persuade boomers to buy TV.
Some of the people I was selling to experienced ‘Nam first-hand, and I was just a dude wearing a J. Crew outlet blazer telling them how great our station performed.
One time, I had a very kind elderly business owner allow me to go through 2 rounds of pitches to finally tell me the most obvious thing I’ve ever heard.
He said, “Biz, don’t you think if I wanted to buy TV, I would have done it by now? I’m 75 years old.”
He was right!
Honestly, I wasn’t a bad sales rep. I landed a few deals for our digital packages that people often didn’t realize we offered. Yet, I could not rope in the big TV deals and get paid the fatter commissions.
I was driving all over Central PA in my used car trying to find any business left on the planet that still saw value in TV spots.
I had a guy in a cowboy hat tell me his boot business couldn’t be on an NBC station. Not to mention, I looked like a complete idiot wearing a suit inside of a boot barn.
Those experiences shaped the way I encountered businesses. I was required to wear jackets and ties at the station, but I would keep a change of clothing in my car. Instead, I decided to approach businesses in a polo and jeans.
Once I sold a few deals, I quickly put together why all those years it seemed like I saw the same commercials over and over.
If our data showed that your grandpop watched a political show, our advertisers would run the same ad like 10 times in an hour.
They wanted their ad to run as many times as they could when the eyeballs were on the screen.
The same went for our 6:00 a.m. news. You would get shown the same plumbing ad 30 times because they believed that Mom and Dad would be making decisions before work.
So, if you’re the guy falling asleep after work and only watching after 11:00 p.m., you’re being served targeted content, sorry! It’s because the data shows us something about your habits.
Now, here’s the Burger King commercial that is slowly turning our brains into mush.
The Advertising Infection
I no longer sell advertising because I steered my career into software. However, I used to work with agencies that represented gigantic corporations like BK.
These people in agencies are called Media Buyers, and they are ruthless. They want as many free spots as they can get out of their station contacts.
You would think they understand basic economics, but they are slaves to their clients.
If your station sells out of all the time slots in a one-hour show, you simply don’t have any room for another spot. If another rep comes in and sells the same spot at a higher rate, your spot gets kicked. It’s Econ 101, baby!
These buyers try everything they can to get their grubby mits on free advertising.
What ends up happening is that sales reps kiss everyone’s ass to get the most out of their paychecks. If they can package in free spots, you’ll see them in every single time slot.
Daytime, overnight, weekend mornings, whatever is open, a spot will run. This is when you start experiencing the same ad over and over again until you want to punch a hole through your 70″ flat screen.
Like The Last of Us, it infects everything. It starts on your Sunday Night Football games (Typically the highest-rated program) and spreads through every channel.
It doesn’t stop there. It finds you like a chemical spill and covers your cable, streaming, and digital platforms. You can’t run or hide from it.
Suddenly, you start saying, “Whopper, Whopper, Junior,” to the Dunkin’ Donuts cashier because you can’t get that Burger King Commercial out of your head. It’s like a fever dream.
You are being brainwashed by the fast-food crown and you don’t have an entourage to shield you from the all-out media attack.
In the end, you fall victim to the music running rampant in your mind.
“Whopper, Whopper, Whopper.”
Remember this the next time you get a jingle stuck in your head.