Pop-Up Video meets the Pop-Up Ad

Remember VH1’s “Pop-Up Video” program? Well, VH1 has applied this technique to their show promotions … with less than ideal results. I was watching 100 Most Shocking Moments in Rock ‘N’ Roll on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Most every commercial break promoted the new show Strange Frequency, their attempt to merge rock with The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits. It looked closer to Tales From The Crypt, so I planned to make other television arrangements that evening.

Then came the dreaded pop-up ad …

While in the middle of a shokcing moment (I think it was the last Woodstock, where peace and love were replaced with riots and $170 tickets), static came over the program audio. Then, with out warning, a large blue box obscured the bottom half of the TV screen. A giant ad for “Strange Frequency” jumped onto the screen, right in the middle of the TV show. About thirty seconds of the program was lost to this promotional event.

I was a bit pissed.

Ads are one thing. Seeing the same program promoted in every commercial block of a show is another. The tiny bug in the bottom corner of the screen was a bit annoying.

But this just sucked. The entire show was interrupted for this ad. It happened three times every hour, without fail. And it was timed very poorly. The ad didn’t appear to be in synch with the show. It popped up over part of Elvis’ death. It popped up over The Rolling Stones. It …

Pop-up fact: The program 100 Most Shocking Moments in Rock ‘N’ Roll is hosted by Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray

… plaster-cast of Jimi Hendrix. Hey, did that just pop-up over my commentary?

Annoying, isn’t it? It’s like having X-10 ads spring up over an episode of The Powerpuff Girls (warning: both VH1.com and cartoonnetwork.com have many pop-up ads). It’s like having guy in a pink jumpsuit walk through a stage production of “Hamlet” carrying a sign that says “Come see Hamlet at the Globe Theater, next Friday at 7:30 PM”.

I have seen one plave where this pop-up TV ad worked. When TBS broadcasts Atlanta Braves’ Baseball, TBS runs ads for NASCAR races. Skip & Don will be bantering, while the camera focuses on the empty field between innings. The pop-up ad shows a NASCAR pit crew run onto the field as a TBS race car stops on the middle of the screen. The side of the car shows the date and time of the next NASCAR race. The pit crew services the car and the car speeds away.

Two things work in favor of this ad:
(1) It is overlayed over the current scene, to make it appear the pit crew is actually on the field.
(2) It doesn’t happen in the middle of the damn game!

If VH1 had designed this ad, the car would speed across the field right as Chipper Jones tries to turn a double play from third to first. They would probably have a nice CGI of the shortstop being thrown into the air as he bounces off the hood of the speeding car, which leaves skid marks in the right field grass.

So if anybody wants to know what happened on Strange Frequency last night, don’t ask me. I’m not watching it.

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