Among the things we love to hate about military life overseas: AFN commercials. (See the Feb. 14 Spouse Calls) We laugh about them, groan over attempts at humor or overacting. We can join a Facebook group to declare "I Hate AFN Commercials" or even "I Love AFN commercials." No matter which side we're on, we wouldn't want to do without the television programming bookended by these ads.
The issue of AFN ads heats up each year at Super Bowl time. Viewers demand their Super Bowl commercials! AFN explains the mutual exclusiveness of free programming and paid advertising! Viewers insist there must be a loophole, especially for the most expensive ads of the year! Huh? ... AFN explains again the concept of free programming. And so it goes.
This year AFN Europe provided a creative solution. They challenged viewers to create their own commercials to be aired during the big game with their "You Do it!" campaign. I thought the title could have been prefaced with "If you think it's so easy ..." Anyway, I thought the homegrown ads were fun to watch. If you didn't see them, you can check them out on YouTube.
Where, by the way, you can also find all the professional Super Bowl commercials we were cruelly denied. So what's the big deal? In the age of cyberspace, we really can't complain about what is not available on AFN. It's all out there somewhere. Too much is out there ... and after all, it is just televison.
I admit it, I'm a total square, and I actually prefer annoying AFN commercials to the annoying ones in the States for used car lots, carpet cleaning and personal injury attorneys. Yes, I know some of the AFN spots are inane and possibly an insult to our intelligence, but can't we say the same thing about a lot of "real" commercials?
It's not that AFN commercials are top of the line, but really, neither is the alternative.
Call me crazy but I'd rather be badgered and irritated by people who aren't trying to sell me anything, except the ideas that I should exercise, eat right, stop smoking, not harrass fellow workers, wear a reflective belt, know the Tricare hotline number, recycle, or call my chaplain if I'm gambling, drinking, stressed, depressed or just plain lonely.
And when we return to life in the CONUS, it's just possible that AFN ads -- even the infamous "Squeakers the Hamster" -- will be among the things we'll recall when thinking of "the good old days."