Advertising on Television: Is it Worth it?


Hey kids, the commercials are on! Who the heck watches television commercials anymore? Most of us don’t have the patience to say the word “television,” hence the acronym TV. What in the world makes anyone think we have the patience to watch a minute long television commercial? We don’t! They are generally loud and obnoxious, and for decades, humanity had no way to avoid them – other than not watching TV.

These days, we have some very handy inventions called TiVo and DVR. These handy doo-dads enable us to fast-forward through commercials. For those who have Comcast, you can watch On Demand, and there typically aren’t any commercials to begin with. Simply put, television commercials are a major waste of money. The only forms of advertising I’ve seen work are direct marketing and promotional products.

Direct marketing is taking a product into public and introducing people to it personally. Imagine if you’ve never tried any kind of soda before. I know; it’s very difficult to imagine that, but try anyway. Now imagine Pepsi Cola has a TV commercial, and you actually watched it. For whatever reason, you decided not to skip through it, and you watched people drinking Pepsi Cola and smiling. Remember, you’ve never had any type of cola, so you know nothing about it. Now, imagine you’re at the mall shopping for designer cat toys. Someone wearing a red polo, with a white Coca-Cola label embroidered on it, walks up to you and offers you a free can of Coca-Cola. You take it in your hand, feel the cold can, crack it open, hear the sizzle, smell the syrup and experience your first life-changing taste of cola! Who are you going to buy soda from, Pepsi or Coke?

Antique Car Stress Ball

You’d remember Ted’s shop if you had one of these with his phone number on it!

Another great form of advertising, which works for similar reasons, is promotional products. Let’s say that a guy named Ted opened up a garage that specializes in oil changes, tire rotations and brakes. He charges 20 percent less than his competitors, but he gets less business. Ted’s an ethical guy. He does a quick, quality job. The problem is that Ted’s TV ads, newspaper ads and radio ads aren’t getting through to people; and furthermore, he can’t give free brake inspections at the mall. He can, however, introduce himself to people at the mall. He can hand out some pens with his company name and address on them. He can even hand out some free t-shirts and can koozies with his logo imprinted on them. These items now become walking advertisements, and since they’re useful, they’ll be kept around and referenced from time to time. These items are called promotional products. They make an impression that few stop to think about. You’re meeting the people, you’re giving them a gift, and you’re sending your company name and phone number home with them. The better the product, the more you can trust it will be kept around and talked about. Promotional products are more than just can koozies, pens and t-shirts. You can get literally anything in the form of a promotional product. You can buy anything from post-it notes up to a single $2,000 Taylor Made driver with your name and company logo engraved into the head.

Those two forms of marketing, direct and/or promotional products are the most effective means of marketing you’ll find. Forget TV ads, newspaper ads and radio ads. They’re absolutely useless. Don’t just invest money for someone else to do your marketing. Get out there and meet some people! Some of the most successful businesses today got where they are because they got their butts out into the streets and made an impression. Just imagine how many potential customers walk or drive by your store front every day and don’t give it a second glance because they’re unfamiliar with your product or service. They don’t know you, and they know nothing about your business. Get out there, and show them who you are and what you do. Give them some free goods with your logo on them. You’ll be surprised at the turn-around!

Image Credits


Bubba is the Quality Logo Products mascot. He may have started out as "just a stress ball," but he's come a long way since the company's launch in 2003. Bubba has been immortalized in numerous vector artwork designs for internal and external promotions, and you can see him change outfits on the Quality Logo Products homepage whenever a holiday rolls around. Oh, and he thinks pants are for the birds. You can connect with Bubba on


  1. QLP Jill

    You’ve made some bold statements, but I tend to agree with you. As expensive as TV ads are, it doesn’t seem like enough people would watch them to make them worth the money. I know that I fast forward commercials whenever I see them…

    Besides the SuperBowl, I can’t think of a time I’ve willingly watched a TV commercial in the past 5+ years!

  2. QLP Kid

    I like your point of view. I would agree with you but i would definently say that super bowl commercials are one of the FEW exceptions and even those are not as popular as they used to be.

  3. Leo

    I feel that T.V. marketing is a thing of the past.. Considering our attention spam (for generation X’s is limted to a micro-second or less) T.V. just does not work. Countless millions being spent on advertising that people can now fast forward. Promotional is the way to go!! Get something in their hands for a 0.005% cost of what it would be for T.V. advertsing. Even if they have the item for only a minute that is a 99 seconds more then T.V. 🙂

  4. Chase

    Great post! This is why I am a big advocate of promotional products. It is not just a free item that was given to me. It is the idea that a person handed me a product that I can use. For example, every time I use my tire gauge I think of John, and his tire company, who gave it to me.

  5. skelly

    Well put. Ever since I can remember I’ve avoided TV commercials at all costs. Radio advertisements are similar. I switch radio stations as soon as the commercials start. Promo products however, aren’t annoying and can actually be useful. Can you think of a time you’ve ever tried to avoid receiving a free promotional item? No. Everyone loves free stuff!

    So bottom line, advertisers should remember to provide messages to consumers that aren’t annoying or constantly avoided. Promo products and free samples are much more effective than TV and radio commercials, which so many tend to avoid watching or listening to.

  6. Kat

    Completely agree! My mom watches nothing but her DVR…for the simple fact that she can fast forward through commercials! I’d say one exception could be the super bowl. After all, those commercials probably attract more of an audience than football fans themselves (I know I’m one of them…if it’s not the Bears playing, then I don’t pay too much attention). But, think about it, those commercials are geared towards being funny and unique as opposed to actually trying to sell the product, so even commercials in the super bowl probably don’t do what is intended in the long run: SELL. I WILL say that I gave my mom a sample cooler with her company name on it a while back and she takes it everywhere she goes. Everyone asks her where she got it, especially those that she works with. She’s already mentioned Quality Logo Products. And what did that cost? Almost nothing!! Most people say, “You get what you pay for” but in the promo products world is that really true?? The outcome and satifaction gained with advertising on products greatly exceeds the cost of doing so. Can’t say THAT with TV. 🙂

  7. Joe

    Very good post and so true! TV commercials are a thing of the past!

  8. Becky Gatch

    I second Jill…..I never watch commericals except the Superbowl. Do you know how many movies are playing that I have never even seen an add for? With a busy career & 2 kids, I have very little time so it’s not spent watching commericals that is for sure. The right promotional product makes a lasting impression and is the way to go.

  9. KB

    Commercials still have their place for some things like kids toys and movies. I would have no idea what is playing in theaters these days if it weren’t for the occassional movie trailer I see enticing me. People are so busy these days, IF they get a chance to sit down and watch tv, commercials are the tie to get things done so they are not COMPLETELY wasting time. Tangible items that keep a company’s name in front of customers or actual samples of the product are going to be the sure sale and the best use of advertising money. And let’s face it, everyone likes to get free stuff!

  10. Bret Bonnet

    I don’t own a TV. I heard having one in the bedroom significantly reduces ones’ average snuggle time over a course of many years with their significant other! 🙂

  11. Jana

    I’ve got mixed feelings. Of course, I think promotional products are freaking awesome, and nothing beats putting something tangible in someone else’s hand. On the other hand, a television commercial can reach a much larger audience – even taking into account DVR/TiVo. I think local businesses thrive better on promotional products whereas national chains (that usually have the money to spend on commercials that are fast-forwarded through by many) might get those brand impressions for a country-wide audience through those commercials.

    That being said, depending on the promotional product you pick, a commercial is only likely to be seen a handful of times (paid attention to less each time it’s seen) whereas a daily use item like a custom key chain or personalized t-shirt will get more use, which equals more brand impressions.

    So I can definitely see where both camps are coming from here.

  12. Jana

    How many seconds are in a minute there, Leo? It’s a good thing you’re really pretty. 😉

  13. Derek

    Speaking of obnoxious television advertisements, the new Quiznos Subs commercial is about as tolerable as Gilbert Gottfried’s voice at 3:30 in the morning. The strange notorious gerbil fetus commercial they had several years back was cutting edge, and even a bit humorous, but this is just totally stupid. I hope no one else has seen this.

  14. Robert Haas

    I totally agree with the comments here as I believe television ads are a thing of the past. Trouble is the executives demand too much more in salary and perks each year and the only way to make up for these monies is to advertise more; which they certainly do. Companies like Gray Advertising and the likes have mostly ruined television viewing as we once knew it; what a shame,,,or sham! I really enjoy emailing the national and local tv broadcast companys and complaining; with an attempt to let them know that most ads simply irritate us. My answer is to simply BOYCOTT all products and services who irritate me; have over 450 and still running. Have a wonderful day,,,,,without ads!

Leave a Comment

Copyright 2003 - 2016 Quality Logo Products, Inc., Registration No. TX7-524-201. All Rights Reserved.