Pandora Tide ads, the new “Pizza Guy” advertising

The Tide ads on Pandora are annoying. Is this costing Pandora revenue?

If you’ve used Pandora music streaming anytime in the past few years, you’ve heard the Tide Laundry detergent ads. These are by far some of the most annoying commercials I’ve ever heard in my life.

And, they reminded me of a scene from a fun movie in the 1990’s, City Slickers and the “Pizza Guy” radio advertising scene.

[manager plays annoying Pizza Guy radio ad]

Mitch: “So?”

Manager: “So? So, it’s stupid. It’s annoying. It makes people change the station.”

Mitch: “I didn’t write it.”

Manager: “But you bought it, you put it on the air three times a night during drive time. People are having accidents.”

“It makes people change the station” is the key part of this scene. Advertising on a particular radio station is valued based on the number of people listening. In short:

Less people listening to your radio station = less you can charge for your ads = less revenue (since you have a limited window to run ads).

So the “Pizza Guy” annoying radio advertisement that makes people change the station means less revenue.

Pandora’s model is a little different, but not much. Listeners have a few options to cope with these ads:

  1. Turn-off Pandora
  2. Switch to another music streaming service such as Spotify or Apple Music
  3. Pay for a subscription to listen to Pandora ad-free
  4. Learn to ignore the ads

Only two of these are good for Pandora. And, like the City Slickers “Pizza Guy” advertisement, it’d be interesting to see if Pandora is losing enough listeners due to these ads that it will hurt their long-time revenue and sustainability of their company. My guess is these ads are doing damage.

It’s also interesting to look at this from Tide’s perspective. Do these annoying ads turn people off of their product? Or does it increase brand recall? Or is this a case of “any mention of our product is good” thinking? Perhaps people talking about it and blogging about it is just the thing they want.


Rule of thumb for showing technology in advertising and signage

A quick rule of thumb for technology in ads:

A sign with an outdated cell phone pictured on it with a red circle and slash through it, symbolizing "no cell phones"
Yes, I took this picture with my cell phone. In my defense, a lot of trainers were at the gym using their cell phones to video their clients, so I’m pretty sure this means no TALKING on your cell phone.

A quick rule of thumb for technology in ads:

If the advertisement or sign is going to be up for over a year, don’t show the technology. If it’ll be up for a year or less, go for it.

Technology changes rapidly and your advertisements and signage can look really out of date quickly. If it’s something that’s going to be up for a year or more, use words vs. pictures/graphics.

Also consider what you’re really trying to communicate. For example, the photo above was taken at my gym. People continually use their cell phones to listen to music and trainers regularly use their cell phone to video a client to help coach with form. Did the gym mean we couldn’t do this? I don’t think so; I’m thinking they actually mean no talking on your cell phone while working out.