For all the obvious reasons, television networks are desperate to find a solution to the dreaded practice of commercial fast forwarding. And now, Grasshopper has proposed a solution. The phone systems company has released a new ad designed to penetrate the psyche of fast forwarders by leaving the image of its mascot in the center of the screen for the entirety of its ad.
If Grasshopper wants people to recognize its mascot, these ads are great. But remembering the brand is a different story completely.
Grasshopper's mascot Gary remains in the center of the screen for the entire 30 second ad without blinking. While the scenery changes and his arms move throughout the commercial, even if the ad is fast forwarded, viewers see a constant image of Gary:
It doesn't seem likely that this is going to solve the fast forwarding problem for anyone. I for one had never heard of Grasshopper before today. And television viewers who watch the ad are not likely to connect the grasshopper to its product. However, the company is getting excellent brand extension online from the ad.
According to Grasshopper, 70% of TV watchers fast forward through commercials. But even while they're fast forwarding, they pay attention to the center of the screen. That's according to a Boston College study released this fall. Writes Wired:
"The act of fast-forwarding through ads causes viewers to pay even more attention to the center part of the screen — the better to know when to return to “play” — even as advertisements whipped past at 20x the normal speed without sound. Apparently, our brains are still able to process images and retain brand messaging even when we’re only seeing one out of every 24 video frames."
That's why the Grasshopper mascot stays in the center of the screen and remains persistent throughout the ad. The company isn't the first brand to catch onto this theory. Tivo created commercial stamps that retain a static ad when viewers fast forward years ago, but Tivo usage in American households is not high enough to make this option commonplace.
Grasshopper's ad has the benefit of retaining its fast-forward gimmick regardless of the network or provider that displays it. And yet, Grasshopper didn't think to put its logo in a similarly persistent place in the spot.
Also surprising is the fact that other brands haven't tried to hedge their bets with fastforwarding and place a static banner at the bottom of TV ads. That may not be the solution to television fast-forwarding, but at least it would tip viewers off to who is paying for their free programming.