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Breaking with Tradition for TV’s Sake

Irrational Numbers

By Chris Keating

November 14, 2008

There’s a particular moment that occurs in everyone’s life. It takes you by surprise, an ambush that swoops in while your back is turned and changes you forever.

This dreaded apocalypse is, of course, when you first hear the music of your youth labeled “classic rock.”

When it hits, there is no denying it: You may not be old, but you are officially not young. For Irrational Numbers, that moment came a decade ago, when the opening chords of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” emerged from the car stereo on a classic rock station. Let the record show that Irrational Numbers nearly drove off the road in shock.

The “classic rock” moment has been on our minds lately, as we wonder what television must have thought when it first heard itself described as “traditional media.” The image conjured by the phrase is that of a stately gentleman, one who understands proper etiquette and looks good in a suit.

Traditional media holds the door for you. Traditional media lays his coat over the puddle. Traditional media doffs his cap and stands up when a lady enters the room.

The problem is that economy-soured projections are making traditional media sound a bit more like old man Brooks from “The Shawshank Redemption”—an old man afraid of the fancy automobiles, loud music and fast pace of the outside world. The economy hasn’t offered much good news to anyone in advertising, but traditional channels are among those being hit hardest. The Television Bureau of Advertising recently readjusted its 2009 forecasts, only the second time in its history it has done so.

These times call for innovative thinking.

The answer may lie in a survey released by The Hotel Networks. According to the survey, conducted by Zoomerang, more than 28% of business travelers and nearly 24% of leisure travelers say they watch more TV commercials when in a hotel room.

Now, we know what you’re thinking. All we need to do is put people up in hotel rooms, and they will watch more commercials. Advertising revenues will rebound. Problem solved.

However, Irrational Numbers did some preliminary math. Getting a hotel room for everyone in the country may be cost-prohibitive.

That’s just a minor setback, though. There are other ways to approach this. If we can’t bring people to the hotel, we can bring hotels to the people. Imagine a new trend: Families everywhere are remodeling their living rooms to look like hotel rooms. It’s the ultimate “staycation”! All the amenities and adventure that come with a night’s stay at the hotel of your choice, right there in the comfort of home. People will watch TV as if they were on the road, and ads will get a boost.

It may sound crazy, but think of it as a “nontraditional” idea.

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