Last Saturday night, the wife and I had the pleasure(?) of attending a Television Preview screening. Basically, we go and preview television shows that are being considered for air in the future, including commercials. They wanted to simulate a natural viewing environment. We thought it would be exciting to be a test audience for upcoming shows! We got to the hotel conference room and entered into the line. When we finally reached the front of the line, we were briefed on what we were to experience, and asked if we worked for any advertising or marketing companies. We said no, and took our seats. I would say there were about 200-300 people in attendance. I figured that we would also be participating in product market research as well. After all, we would be watching commercials along with the shows. We also were given a booklet with pages of products. We were to circle each product that we like the most. So we circled our favorite underarm deodorant, soup, laundry detergent, etc. After that, the shows began. The first show was called “Soulmates.” It was about what might happen if we were to encounter people we may have been close to in past lives. An interesting concept. The show was absolutely horrible. It was so cheesy, I pondered whether we were not there to watch actual new shows, but were actually tricked into watching commercials. What a brilliant idea. I watched the room during the commercials, and sure enough, 200-300 eyes were transfixed on the commercials they wanted us to see. The show continued to be absolutley horrible. The second show was a pilot from the 80′s starring Valerie Harper titled “City.” This was a better show. I actually liked it. You see, Valerie is considering a return to TV and perhaps redo-ing this show. OK, so after each show, we were asked how we liked them, what we didn’t like about them, etc. After both shows, we were given yet another booklet with more pages of products to circle. Interesting, I thought. I guess they wanted to check the influence of the commercials they just showed us. And then we were given a long survey about how we felt about certain products. At the time, I would say the evening was 80% market research and only 20% actual television preview.
It turns out, I was wrong. It was 100% market research and had absolutely nothing to do with determining the fate of future television shows. Here is an article I found from 2001. Aparently they were showing the same shows then too. Turn out, they’ve been showing them since at least 1999. Now, I don’t mind being a part of market research. But when they invite me under the guise of something else entirely, well, that is just wrong. It is evil and annoying. I’ve come to the conclusion that the marketing industry is entirely shady. Why does Albertson’s need to know my address and phone number in order to issue me a “preferred savings” card? Why do I need to include my annual salary when filling out the warranty on the new TV I just bought?
Well, I hope my information can improve products in the future. I hope that in the future, people will realize that Television Preview is a sham. I hope that “Soulmates” never ever hits the airwaves. All I can say is at least my wife and I had a nice night together without the kids.
Further reading: (AKA, why didn’t I do my research first?)
I think you get the idea by now.