Tuesday, June 12, 2007


I don’t know what else to call them, those advertisements that grab my attention solely because of their nonsensical natures. They plop onto my web browser (or television), ooze into my consciousness, and stink up my day with their annoying non-sequitur imagery. I’m pretty sure you’ve sat through one or two non-sequiturds today. Even so, let me offer one all-too-vivid illustration.

The most annoying manifestation of the non-sequiturd phenomenon must be that awful “Lower My Bills” ad that appears on otherwise reputable websites. The ad-box contains supposed “video footage” of a woman dancing in an office, badly. She seems to have no idea that her awkward gyrations are being taped until - in shock - she spots the camera. The image freezes on a close-up of her face caught in a horrified grimace. For some reason this ad sells mortages.

From this example, non-sequiturds may be defined as crappy ads that draw attention through their depictions of random imagery. Typically non-sequiturds integrate a sense of sexual titillation into their appeals, often in mildly disturbing ways. Another dimension of these ads: they would fool only the dimmest viewers. Thus one watches the ad thinking at a meta-level, “This ad is pointless, and it really sucks!” As such, non-sequiturds cut through the clutter of an exploding mediascape, inspiring critique by otherwise inattentive viewers. And garnering attention is the first step to garnering a sale.

I am told of the relative ease with which one may configure a web browser to avoid accepting ads from certain domains, supposedly banishing non-sequiturds to the land of wind and ghosts. But I fear that one death-click would simply seed the flowers of more egregious ads, resulting in an internet version of whack-a-mole. On principle (and just a bit of laziness), I won’t attempt a tech-fix.

I’d rather mock non-sequiturds when I see them, rebuking them with merciless laughter even though my response is meaningless. No matter how valiantly I rebuke these things, someone will click through. Someone will take the bait. Someone will smile at the random image of a dancing office worker and stare at her horrified freeze-frame and say, “Yes, Yes! I will take a second mortgage!” I shudder to imagine that this person will also drive a car and may even vote.

So I am stuck with a weary smile and bemused acceptance of things I can scarcely control: “Ah, joy. Another non-sequiturd.”

Incidentally I claim no origination of the word “non-sequiturd.” A google search reveals some other appearances of the term (though some may merely be misspellings). Either way, I will joyfully weave “non-sequiturd” into my occasional media critiques, gaining small pleasure in the rhetorical spit that drips from the name. Ah…Non-sequiturds: I feel better already.

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  • Lower My Bills Watch

    Want to vent about a non-sequiturd you’ve seen? Leave a comment.
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