Lum: Daytime TV target audiences |

Lum: Daytime TV target audiences

Su Lum

When I retired from the advertising department of The Aspen Times a year and a half ago, I had some serious adjusting to do. I had worked there most of my life, and my dachshunds, Nicky and Freddie, had worked there all of their lives, so they had it even worse than I did.

While I was stretching out in bed in the late morning, thinking, “I can do whatever I want to,” the pups were clamoring at the door wanting to know why we couldn’t go to work, same as we always did.

My options for “whatever I want to do” were limited by a bad back and a host of other health problems — before I knew it, I had turned to television.

I had been married and divorced twice, had two kids and was living in Aspen before I had my first TV set, and it was 1972 before I got color. I didn’t grow up with it; I wasn’t hooked. By the time I retired, my TV-watching had been reduced to public meetings on GrassRoots, old movies and various series on PBS.

In the first few months of my retirement, I had run through every season of “The Andy Griffith Show” and found myself watching the clock lest I miss “Judge Judy” or “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?”

I wouldn’t say I was addicted, but I was habituated, and I didn’t like it. The cure was twofold: 1. The shows went into reruns, and there was no valid excuse for watching more than once (or, worse, not remembering if I had already seen it) and 2. The ads were driving me crazy.

Coming from an ad background you’d think I would have been more tolerant, but the networks showed the ads over and over and over, sometimes Henry Winkler ( “the Fonz,” for god’s sake) coming on thrice in a 30-minute show pimping the same reverse-mortgage company with the exact same ads.

I began to see a pattern to the types of ads being run on daytime television: Give me your tired, your poor, your decrepit, your indigent, your carless wanting no down payment, your ailing masses needing pain medications and funeral insurance.

Call this number, and you can forget mortgage payments, but when you die, we’ll get your house. Call toll free for an electric scooter. Call now to sue your drug company. Ask your doctor why you’re peeing every five minutes.

The marketing profile of the daytime TV audience is ailing, aging people who are too senile or too stupid to notice that we saw that Car Hop ($90 down) ad five minutes ago.

It’s evening television where you get the ads for sporty cars and Viagra, aimed at the midlife crisis group. Few are directed at young people — they’re the ones who know how to skip the ads.

I may be oversensitive, but the most horrific ads are the ones where small squares of cereal cannibalize each other, where insects scream “Raid!” and fall over in dead heaps, where a personified wart is executed before your eyes. And the worst of that ilk is the misguided M&M’s campaign, where a sweet little M&M is seduced by a beautiful woman who proceeds to push him in an oven while he screams and grabs the sides of the stove with his little hands. What TV show is worth sitting through that?

Su Lum is a longtime local who will stick with books on CD. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at

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