Context-Linked TV Ads: No More Bathroom Breaks

The Wall Street Journal has a great piece (9/9/06) on a new trend in Japan where TV ads are becoming part of the show (subscribe to the online Journal, it's got one of the best media sections). A big agency and large TV network have teamed up for this latest way to trick viewers into postponing the potty, relieving them from the TiVo and other tools of avoidance viewers have developed. The ads and mixed with content. And according to the article (WSJ doesn't allow links). You can't not pay attention because valuable parts of the plot are revealed while products are being featured. As reporter Amy Chozick writes it, "...In one scene, a woman sits in a cafe longing for a family. Then she notices a mother taking hers kids out of the back of a Toyota Sienta minivan -- a scene that lasts for a minute or so, giving viewers a clear view of the car's spacious interior. The woman imagines herself becoming the mother and enjoying the Sienta with the kids. Cue the commercial, where the same character later goes home to research "Happiness, Marriage, Minivan" on the Internet, a search that leads her to Toyota's web site." The blurring of art and commerce continues. This time as a reaction to high tech devices and alternative delivery sources that threaten traditional television. But what about the threat to artistic expression?