Take a look at this TV spot for the movie Obsessed.
There's something about this commercial that really bothers me, and I don't think it has anything to do with the movie itself. It's something to do with the way the ad is constructed, but I can't put my finger on it exactly. Whatever it is, it was also in the Twilight and Push TV spots from a few months earlier.
At first, I thought maybe it was the widescreen format with the prominent black bar on the top. While I would always prefer to watch movies on TV in widescreen over pan-and-scan, maybe I felt it was overly dramatic for a commercial airing during a syndicated Simpsons rerun. But then I noticed that the X-Men Origins: Wolverine TV spot was letterboxed, and I had no problem whatsoever with it. In fact, when I actually started paying attention, I realized that most movie commercials running right now were in widescreen.
Maybe it's the intense voice of the sleazy movie trailer guy, the slow build of the music, or the ordered bits of melodramatic dialogue. It tries to tell a story, as opposed to just dropping a few attention-grabbing lines or images. The density of it all makes it feel like a compressed theatrical trailer rather than a proper TV spot. They are two very distinct forms, you know.
No, I've come to the conclusion that it must be the static text at the top of the screen. The movie title and release date remain on display for the duration, almost like a watermark. It undercuts the natural dynamism of a thirty-second ad, and, moreover, it draws attention to the black bars that are normally supposed to escape the notice of the captivated viewer (hence why I hadn't even noticed them in ads for other movies). Worst of all, it forces me to pay attention to the commercial. I can tune out audio and video pretty easily, but, if there's text, I can't help reading it.
Yeah, sure, that must be the problem...