Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Another thought on clutter

As many of you know, one of my interests is in the area of commercial clutter. My interests have been primarily focused on how decisions made by radio management can inpact the sense of clutter in listeners--and I have borrowed on the work of Louisa Ha--especially the following article:

Ha, Louisa (1996), "Advertising Clutter in Consumer Magazines: Dimensions and Effects," Journal of Advertising Research (Winner, Lysaker Prize for Outstanding Research on Media), 36 (4), July/August, 76-84

Where she conceptualizes three types of clutter:
1. Quantity of commercials that interrupts entertainment/informational programming
2. Number of commercials which are for the same product category (just think of what it's like on the radio the week before a major election....likely the same number of minutes devoted to just seems like more because they are all asking for your vote)
3. The amount of intrusiveness--or the extent to which the programming you are using the media FOR...the entertainment or interrupted.

Well, I've been communicating via email with someone who has me thinking about another possible way that listeners could conceptualize a station as more cluttered: when the same voice talent is doing a unusually heavy percentage of the total number of commercials. When I was a disc jockey we were still playing commercials on carts and on the cart labels used to be typed things like the name of the client, the dates the commercial would air, its duration, and, the initials of the announcers that began and ended the commercial. So, a commercial with the following code on it RP/WMJ would indicate to the disk jockey that the commercial started with Rob Potter's voice and then ended with Wolfman Jack's voice (no, I'm not that's just an example).

The trouble would be if you ended up with the following three commercials to play: RP/RP; RP/WMJ; WMJ/RP. When this was the case, there would be no way for the announcer on air to arrange those commercials in an order where MY VOICE promoting one client would not go directly into a commercial where MY VOICE was promoting another client. Bad for the client, certainly. The question is, does this impact the perception of clutter? In other words, if you had ten 30 second commercials in a single stopset...and they ALL were voiced by the same announcer --even with changes in tone, inflection, background music, etc--would listeners perceive that station as more cluttered than another station (still playing ten 30s) with a varied set of voices doing the production?

I wonder.
Good thing another semester is starting!

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