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Repeating Ad
The very odd practice of airing the same commercial twice, or two commercials advertising the same product, in the same commercial break.

There are four common variations of this:

  • Commercial A airs twice in a row.
  • Commercial A airs, followed by Commercial B, after which Commercial A airs again.
  • Commercial A1 airs, with Commercial A2 popping up sometime in the same break. While both ads are different, what they advertise is exactly the same. Sometimes two or more ads are actually part of the same ad spot, and thus will always run consecutively. Often occurs if there is a continuity in the two spots.
  • Commercial A airs as the last commercial of the break. Then, before the actual action begins for the show, the sponsors are listed in reverse order, meaning Commercial A's company goes first. Seen often in sports.

There are many possible reasons for this trope. In the case of traditional advertising, the repetition is probably to make it stick in your mind. (Even if it's annoying, it still makes you think about them more.) Alternately, the station has a quota of how many times a particular commercial has to be shown in a given month and they are forced to continually play it near the end of the month in order to make that quota. In the case of an online video, it's more likely that the site only has a single advertiser at the moment.

This also happens on sites that have commercial breaks in their videos. Because the site can only contract so many companies that want to advertise on these breaks, it means that they play the same few commercials over and over and over.


Examples:

  • A few years back, there was an advertisement on the Finnish radio station Iskelmä that ran during most commercial breaks, usually multiple times at that. The ad was for FinnHooks, wooden hook-thingies that are used to relieve pain in hard-to-reach areas or something.
  • Sapporo Ichiban. Oh, Sapporo Ichiban. Because the ad is 15 seconds long it used to be run twice in a row every single freaking time. If there's a Canadian over 30 who doesn't have that commercial permanently etched in their mind, congratulations. Even worse, in some markets the double commercial ran four or five times an hour because the company had bought so much airtime.
  • During showings of Groundhog Day on TV, it is common to show the same commercial six times in a row for every ad break, or have every ad break consist of the same six commercials. (If you haven't seen the movie, just read up on the trope named after the film to understand.)
  • During the film Swordfish, when one of the characters is stopped after cutting through customs, his lawyer claims that he "didn't want to miss Survivor." During one TV screening, the next ad break after this scene started with an ad for Survivor, even going so far as to show the film winding back to the line in the film. The result was Repeating Ad with only one ad.
  • Many broadcasters are required by the government to air a certain amount of public service announcements each day. Since they want to reserve more heavily populated timeslots for paying advertisers, these often end up in the middle of the night. Due to the small number of public Service Announcements that are provided, however, the same advertisement about how orphanages need more bodies shovelled into them will often appear back to back with itself through an entire commercial break.
  • This also happens when the station messes up airing a commercial, due to their need to air the whole commercial to satisfy their advertisers. If the station accidentally starts Commercial B too soon, cutting Commercial A short, you can rest assured Commercial B will be followed by Commercial A again.
  • GEICO Insurance will frequently air two different short ads back-to-back. Since Geico ads tend to be both short (the two together filled one "normal" ad slot) and clever (at least the first few times you see them), the end result isn't all that annoying.
    • Allstate Insurance does this too. Two short "This isn't the time to wish you had accident forgiveness" ads are shown together.
    • Many theatres, at least in Canada, have about a half-dozen ads that cycle through in a loop until the movie starts.
  • During the popularity of the 'Crazy Frog' ring tone in the United Kingdom (where this trope is generally not as noticeable) an advertisement for the sound featured on almost every ad-break on some satellites channels, often re-occurring. This prompted large numbers of complaints to the industry regulator who responded saying that essentially they were in no position to stop a paid for advertisement simply on the grounds of repetition. (Later it was ruled, because of the nature of the subscription service the Crazy Frog was advertising, that it couldn't be shown before the watershed.
  • McDonald's has used the third variation of this trope, using three commercials (featuring Line Rider, a black kid in a white shirt having fruit blasted at him, and a girl inexplicably acting like a chicken).
  • Another version that McDonald's did was the "dad forgot the fries" commercial. In the first spot, you see a father buy food for his family and eat fries all the way home, so when he comes home, there are no fries left to give to his family. The kids cheer when he comes home, but become disappointed when there are no fries, so he goes out to buy more. End commercial. The second one starts the same, but this time when he comes home, it's to an empty house and his wife says to him "you did it again, didn't you?"
  • Faithful viewers of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on the Sci Fi Channel suffered through a relentless deluge of Kahlua Mudslides.
  • Speaking of Comedy Central, this network seems to delight itself with this practice nowadays, often taking one random commercial every break and airing it twice.
  • Shortly after The Last Airbender came out, Nickelodeon's advertising blocks became flooded with advertisements for said movie and its tie-in merchandise - perhaps resulting in Hype Aversion for many viewers. (Considering the movie's general reception, however, this could be a good thing.)
  • The Twix commercial in Poland, which used a theme of "doubleness": "When you've got a break - take Twix! Double candybar - double break!" This ad was aired twice each time, one after another.
  • Generally, approaching and during Safe Harbor on Comedy Central and other cable channels, you will find that ads for male enhancement pills, phone sex services, condoms, and, most hilariously, mattresses and sleeping pills, will triple in frequency, sometimes playing the same ad twice a break.
  • The sneakest use ever of the A1/A2 variant was shortly after the rulings that led to Side Effects Include.... Quite a few companies put out two different, yet very similar ads; the "reminder" ad would mention the name of the product, but not what it did; while the "help seeking" ad would mention what the product did, but not its name. This allowed them to circumvent being required to list side-effects. The practice died quickly.
  • Anyone who has subscribed to MLB.tv (Major League Baseball's online streaming service) knows how horrifically the company abuses ALL FOUR of these themes. In fact, in the course of a single baseball game, lasting around 2 hours and 40 minutes, there are somewhere around FORTY commercials (of two varieties) for the same service that you were already using to view the game! Add in the fact that there are only about three distinct commercials to go around, and you get the idea.
    • Other MLB viewers will get much of the same. Those using DirecTV's Extra Innings package to view their out-of-market baseball games will often find their entire commercial break populated by DirecTV commercials. Most noticeable when, on at least one occasion, four consecutive commercials of the "smear the competition" variety aired, all stating reasons why DirecTV is better than rival Dish Network (the anti-Dish commercials rarely air just one at a time, but blocks of two anti-Dish commercials combined with other DirecTV commercials are more common).
    • Hulu does this a lot. On the plus side, there's only one commercial. On the other, it's always the same one.
    • Let's just say that every online streaming service does this and leave it at that.
  • Bob's Discount Furniture, a New England business with a tendency towards obnoxious advertising, pulls this a lot. They use multiple variants, too. Probably the worst is a variant that technically falls under the A1/A2 variant, but the only difference between the two commercials is the color of the couch. Seriously. They start the commercial break with an ad featuring a dark brown couch/sofa/whatever set, then the last commercial of the same break will be exactly the same, only now the couch, sofa and everything else are beige. The real question is, why the hell did they make the exact same commercial twice?
  • Screwed with with a certain collection of "Go to this site" ripoff commercials, where the content is essentially the same, but the address is different each time, because the two numbers that begin the address were randomly generated. They're using different numbers for different demographics/channels/times of day/etc. so they can figure out where their victims are coming from, then concentrate their scam ads more there. There's a page that explains it here, as well as another one which explains the scam itself (it's a pyramid scheme) here.
  • This is specific problem with the NHL, as hockey's viewership ratings in the US are low and scare away sponsors. Ask any hockey fan about the Dodge Caliber and that goddamned fairy. There were two articles from professional sportswriters complaining about the overuse of that one commercial. Especially evident in the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, where every single commercial break of every single game contained the same commercials from a set of maybe ten.
  • The commercial for TV Land's "High School Reunion" plays during the credits of every show, at least once per commercial break, even if it already played during the credits, and with the extended preview at least three breaks per 2 shows.
  • For those living in Florida, there's Appliance Direct and its counterpart, Scratch & Dent World. Both are owned by the same couple who started a chain of appliance stores. Scratch & Dent World is essentially the same, but they exclusively sell appliances that were scratched or dented while being sent to the stores, but otherwise work fine and would have otherwise not been sold. They actually have good deals, but their commercials are annoying as fuck. They feature the woman screaming and banging on appliances to enunciate her points, with her husband, who speaks with a very thick Korean accent, backing her up. The commercials are very common on Florida radio stations, especially FM 105.1, which has a sponsorship deal with them. One commercial advertised the opening of a new store, and the commercial was nothing but her repeating the location of the store over and over and over for the whole 30-second commercial. People have lodged complaints with the radio stations and often switch to other stations to avoid listening to the commercials, but they've fallen on deaf ears. Well, deaf to anything but cash.
  • For at least three months before Cloverfield came out, movie theaters were averaging two previews for it per movie. Before the trailers there was a Kodak ad made up entirely of clips from Cloverfield, and then there'd be the actual movie ad during trailers.
  • There's a fifth variation-commercials which are, shot for shot, identical, except for the race of the people in the commercial. Two examples are one where you can get your Marines in white or black, or a commercial for some doll or other where you get not only black and white doll/mother/child, but an incredibly light-skinned Hispanic trio as well.
  • Quite common with syndicated shows like Jeopardy!, where the commercials are entirely controlled by the local TV station. One local station in Georgia has run the same ad for a local state college twice during the same break, and the same ad for a doctor's office three times during another. (It used to be car dealership ads, before car sales tanked...)
  • Channel Ten, an Australian TV network, do this to their own goddamn shows. Everything from Merlin to Rove to new episodes of The Simpsons will have an ad appearing at least three times a break in the build up to the show. Lampshaded in comedian Dave Hughes' Twitter, where he joked/complained that he was already sick of his own new show, which hadn't even started up yet at the time he posted.
  • Pizza commercials are often shown twice in a row. Includes Papa Murphy's, Dominos, and possibly others.
  • The Finnish movie festival Love And Anarchy shows their own ad at the start of every screening. While it's usually witty, many regulars buy their tickets in sets of nine and see two to four movies every evening, so the ad gets old fast.
  • Its b-b-back. For 4 days only. The GIANT Used Car Tent Sale! At Qualcomm Stadium!
  • The Xbox Live Arcade game based off 1 vs. 100 only had a handful of sponsors and a few instructional videos by host Chris Cashman to fill ad breaks. They quickly get unbearable, and to make it worse, the sound for them still plays if you have the Xbox music streaming.
  • An online senior dating service has at least six different, very short commercials, and CNN once chose to air them ALL IN THE SAME COMMERCIAL BLOCK, back to back.
  • A small-time international music awards show in 2009 (so small-time in fact it looked like it was filmed in a hotel theater) was apparently only sponsored by Guitar Hero IV.
  • On the weekend it came out in theatres, commercials for Hot Tub Time Machine could be seen nine times in just over an hour.
  • Parodied on Family Guy when Al Harrington's Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man Warehouse and Emporium has a sale on Crudely Painted Not So Funny Plywood Cutout Folk Art. Like, over and over.
  • French TV had an extremely annoying variation on this trope in 1998. It was one single 20 seconds spot for Mercurochrome band-aids, which started by the slogan (which was "Mercurochrome, le pansement des héros" - "Mercurochrome, heroes' band-aids"), then a 10 second scene, then 3 times the slogan again. In 20 seconds you could hear 4 times the brand. Another version of the same ad had the 4 slogans at the end. Available here and here
  • One of the local advertisements aired in the Raleigh, North Carolina, area on Cartoon Network is for a local chain of ice cream parlors called Rita's. The commercial runs about fifteen seconds, entirely occupied by an Ear Worm jingle, and typically bookends one of the other commercials in the break.
  • TBS promoted Frank Caliendo's sketch comedy show Frank TV to such excess during the 2007 and 2008 Major League Baseball playoffs that one of the later ads referred to itself as part of a three-hour Frank TV promo, sometimes interrupted by baseball.
  • Non-commercial example. The Good Luck Charlie episode, "Take Mel Out to the Ball Game" was shown right after itself on 10/29/10. The same thing happened during one showing on ABC Family of The Lion King. And it happened on The Hub with My Little Pony: Equestria Girls.
  • Brilliantly combined with Product Switcheroo Ad in this Pedigree Dentastix commercial. The first commercial is for a ridiculous product called "Doggie Dentures", and the first thing the second one (which, by the way, has the same "setting" as the previous one) shows is a dog with a Dentastix treat in its mouth staring at the camera, while the announcer says, "You're...kidding, right?" as if in response to the previous commercial.
  • ESPN partners with certain college football conferences (particularly the SEC) to show some second or third-rate conference games on limited distribution networks; a viewer has to subscribe to the obscure channel the game is broadcast on or order it through Pay Per View. Unsurprisingly, these games have few sponsors, and throughout the three hours of Florida vs. Crappy Sun Belt Team Destined To Lose By 60 Points viewers will see the same commercials several times.
  • FOX's playoff baseball coverage became famous for this around the middle of the 2000s. The network would relentlessly flog its upcoming shows with commercials that usually centered around dramatic line readings. The short-lived shows "Girls Club" and "Skin" have earned running joke status with baseball fans ("His father is the district attorney!"). House was also promoted in this way ("You're risking a patient's life!").
  • Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Investigation Discovery all do this on a regular basis. If one of their shows has a new episode coming up, expect to see it advertised at least once per commercial break.
  • The UK's railway governing body Network Rail uses such a tactic in its current level crossing awareness campaign. A motorist pulls up at a level crossing, a couple of adverts show, a train passes, more adverts, then the motorist begins to move his car around the lowered barriers and slams the brakes on as he nearly collides with another train on the second line.
  • For a while, whenever cable channel FX would air short, repetitive commercials for whatever original "gritty" drama it was trying to push for the upcoming season. Sing it with me: "This time you've gone too far. This time you've gone too far..."
  • [adult swim] LOVES their Scion advertisements. You tend to see 3-4 within an hour.
  • If you live in Wisconsin, local ad blocks tend to follow a set pattern of "HOM Furniture/Local Advert/HOM Sleep Express".
  • In a more specific example, the Season 3 premier of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was flooded with commercials for GAK. At one point four GAK commercials aired in a row. The show's fandom quickly turned it into a running gag.
  • Any person who's watched CBS on Saturday mornings since the fall of 2008 might have seen this commercial every break, and can recite it from seeing it too many times. This applies not only to CBS-EVERY Saturday morning block at the time note  ran this commercial a lot.
    • Around November 2012, there would be two ads for Nenuco products in the same break: one for the doll line in general, and one for a school playset. Around September of that same year, an ad for a Cinderella dress and vanity set played a lot, along with the Cuddle Uppets ad.
    • And before the Cookie Jar TV block got cancelled, the Seat Pets ad would play once every half-hour.
    • Back when they had Kewlopolis, Play-Along Toys note  advertised their products a lot.
    • During the first 5 weeks of CBS Dream Team, they played Oxi-Clean ads 'EVERY SINGLE BREAK! Every week after that, they played ASPCA and UNICEF ads on every show, which still continues today.
  • If you watched The CW 4 Kids in 2010, you could not watch one ad break without seeing many ads for Sketchers shoes, or one ad repeated twice.
  • In late August-September 2012, Disney XD kept airing a Kid Cuisine commercial with penguins making a popcorn chicken Kids Cuisine and another penguin comes home with PEACHES!
  • From HeartCatch Pretty Cure! to the start of Smile Pretty Cure!, Yamaha music schools would air two ads in a row on some episodes.
  • If you watched the livestream of Million Second Quiz, you would see one out of three ads for Subway (which would start the livestream anytime you opened it) and promos for NBC shows. Some of these ads repeated over and over, and it got annoying every time you restarted the livestream and had to hear "Four, four, it's the four dollar lunch!" or "Five dollar, five dollar footlong, any any any..."
  • Speaking of NBC, back when they had qubo, they had a lot of favorite ads:
    • The "Reading...everybody's doing it!" PS As.
    • The qubo channel ad, dear lord. It aired every break.
    • The "Book People Unite" PSA was this for qubo a few months before it ended.
    • "Can YOUR food do that?!"
    • The ads for Pillow Pets, Dream Lites and Cuddle Uppets.
  • Nickelodeon loves doing this:
  • A New York City cable provider, Cablevision, overwrites ads on channels like The Hub and Disney XD for local ads. Sometimes, on a particular program, these are the same ads. While Disney XD varies these ads all of their shows, there is one that doesn't-Crash And Bernstien, which only airs two-All Island Jewelry and Loan, and an Optimum ad. On Animaniacs, which airs in an hour-long block, the ads for Majestic Gardens and Automatt play during the part they overwrite, EVERY SINGLE TIME! Thankfully this has calmed down.
  • During Toon Disney showings of Garfield and Friends, Gerber Life ads would show up during every single one of them.
  • In-universe example in Shock Treatment: we first see the Farley Flavors Fast Food commercial when a show on DTV takes a break, and if you listen closely, we can hear the commercial play again when Janet is at Brad's parents' house.
  • When The Magic Adventures Of Mumfie aired on Fox Family, you couldn't watch one episode without seeing at least one Discovery Zone ad.
  • There's yet another variant of this where the A1 and A2 ads play one after another. The Japanese McDonald's Happy Set commercials advertising separate boy and girl toys are always shown this way.
  • This commercial for Sears Central Air Conditioning from the mid 1990's which would even air on kids channels in the middle of winter, sometimes three times in the same ad break! "What's the paper say about tomorrow? 'Nother scorcher! Cool!"
  • Invoked by Reese's, with an advertisement mentioning déjà vu to represent the two cups in each package. The commercial is then played again.

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alternative title(s): Ad Repeating; Ad Nauseam
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