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Ridiculously Loud Commercial

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Billy Mays gives Garfield the hard sell.

"There are plenty of stylish classy ads in the world, but tonight we're going to ignore them. Our Ad Of The Week is the closest the industry comes to just walking up and punching us in the face. It's The Shouty Ad."
Will Anderson, The Gruen Transfer, 2008 ep07


Commercials, advertisements, whatever you call them, they tend to be louder than the program you're actually watching, presumably so one can hear them from the kitchen, bathroom, and to try to make them stand out from each other. The futility of this should be obvious. (OK, now where's the "mute" button on this remote?)

According to the UK's Advertising Standards Authority (the ASA), when investigating adverts, they suggested that it's not the loudness of the adverts themselves, but the compression used that makes the perceived bursts of audio sound louder than it really is, especially compared to the generally quieter moments seen in most TV shows. Another reason that's been suggested is that TV show producers are given a range of volumes they can use and only ramp up to full volume for particularly dramatic moments — whereas advertisers are given that same range and use full volume ALL THE TIME.

Considered by advertising industry professionals to be a Discredited Trope, and may even be a Dead Horse Trope, due to various authorities around the globe taking action on this thorny issue. As of 2008, the aforementioned ASA made the decision to enforce all UK ads to only be as loud as the shows the channels air; the US followed suit with similar rules in 2010, one of the few things allowed to pass through the standing filibuster in the Senate, and Canada joined this movement in 2012. While it ultimately didn't solve the problem, it did make watching adverts a lot more tolerable.

See also the Loudness War, which is a very similar concept as applied to music.

May involve a Large Ham, No Indoor Voice or an Insane Proprietor.


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  • The Audi "Progress is Beautiful" ad, which aired frequently on NBC during the 2008 Summer Olympics.
  • Local ads on cable, which tend to have poor quality and, hence, poor sound modulation.
    • The loudness of the Cillit Bang ad was even parodied by here.
  • See Also the late Billy Mays!
    • "HI BILLY MAYS HERE!!" Cue the frantic scramble for the Mute button before your eardrums are blown in. Anthony Sullivan (the British man who often partnered with Mays in his spots) has gone on record as saying it wasn't post-production trickery: Mays really was capable of being just that loud, and has joked "it was like standing next to a jet engine."
  • Car commercials with rock music.
  • There was a Rodeo Ford (a local car dealership) ad featuring a man in a cowboy suit who looks like a Ferengi and ridiculously overacts the entire commercial. Certain gems include "MY GOSH! THAT'S TOO CHEAP!", all while the constant chant of "TRUCKS TRUCKS TRUCKS TRUCKS TRUCKS TRUCKS TRUCKS" plays in the background.
    • Every used car ad, ever.
    • That would be Burton Gilliam, a minor character actor from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He's best known as Lyle from Blazing Saddles.
    Hold it, hold it, what the hell is that shit?
    • Subverted around the holidays with Denver local Rocky's autos whose commercial is simply footage of a quiet babbling brook with the text "this holiday season, our gift to you: 30 seconds of peace and quiet"
      • Played completely straight the rest of the year though unfortunately.
  • AMC in particular jacks up the volume on their commercials so that they're noticeably louder than the movies.
  • The famous Parody Commercial Big Bill Hell's is not just loud, but abusive:
    • "If you find a better deal, shove it up your ugly ass! You heard us right, shove it up your ugly ass!"
  • Inverted with a series of ads by financial investment company John Hancock, where there is only ambient sound and typing noises, with the intent being to draw attention by the lack of noise.
  • This trope is brought to you by "Powerthirst Energy Drink"! 400 BABIES!!!
  • The Mr. T endorsed commercials for Snickers bars: GET SOME NUTS!!!
  • HEAD-ON Apply DIRECTLY to the FOREhead. HEAD-ON Apply DIRECTLY to the FOREhead. This one's not consistently LOUD as much as gratingly variable in volume. Whatever ad firm Miralus Healthcare hired to make this one must not have been able to afford a proper level compressor.
  • Somehow that Girls Gone wild commercial manages to be 20 times louder when you are watching late night TV and trying not to wake your family/roommates/neighbors/etcetera, combining hearing loss and making you look like a pervert.
  • Commercials in most TV stations in Brazil fit this trope exactly.
  • The ill-advised campaign where John Cleese shouts his way down a Sainsbury's aisle. Sainsbury's lost much of its customer share to rivals, partly because of the ad itself, partly in fear that John Cleese shopped at their local store.
  • Comedy Central seems to take pleasure in making their shows' audio faint, requiring viewers to adjust the volume louder than is normally necessary. But for some reason, the ads don't suffer from this aural handicap...
    • Now they've exaggerated this by featuring ads for their own shows containing loud, shrill shrieking.
    • Also, The Comedy Network in Canada, including their show-streaming website. So, comedy TV equals loud commercials.
  • Some ads (most frequently on DeviantArt or Wikia sites) are silent at first but will activate after a time, leaving you scrambling to shut down whatever tab is talking.
  • used to carry a particularly irritating one starring an extremely loud and irritating fly, which you had to "swat" by clicking on it. Ingenious, in an anti-social sort of way, but not really conducive to making people want to buy whatever it was they were selling.
  • There was a commercial for the Lion King Broadway musical that was twice as loud than the rest of the programming, and even the other commercials. It would be at the start of the commercial break, giving you almost no time to grab your remote. It also ran during the Super Bowl. That was really nice.
  • There was one (very bad) phone commercial that brags about how clear its screen is by showing two (apparently very stupid) people mistake a picture of a spider for a real tarantula; the woman jumps up and lets out an ear-splitting, screen-cracking screech, while the man destroys the phone with his shoe.
  • A weird version of this is a commercial for an auto body shop, where the guy at the desk is ringing up a customer's charges. Strangely, the desk guy's lines are pretty much inaudible, the customer apparently heard that it was way more than he expected and lets out a Skyward Scream, then fainting.
  • There is a sugar-water company that deliberately plays as-loud-as-possible sounds for their commercials as their water is a "wake up call".
  • The UK government did take a stab at subverting this by bringing in new regulations to prevent ad sound levels being higher than shows. However, they didn't include station promos - which generally bracket the ad breaks, so you still get a jolt of invasive yelling during the transition from show to break, rendering it all rather pointless.
  • EVERY Old Spice ad with Terry Crews. He even invaded Charmin and Bounce commercials.
  • Some commercials for televisions claimed that their volume controls ensured a maximum sound level so that these commercials wouldn't get too obnoxious.
  • Cartoon Network has recently developed a fetish for splicing together shots of characters (especially from Regular Show and Adventure Time) YELLING AND SCREAMING AND SHRIEKING AT THE TOPS OF THEIR LUNGS for their ident spots. Fortunately they at least don't amplify the volume further than the shows themselves already have.
  • In Chicago: "FOREMAN MILLS!!!" discount store ads.
  • Commercials for the ASPCA and other such groups which always begin with images of sad abused animals punctuated to music like "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan, guaranteed to make animal lovers either want to take action, or just change the channel to escape the emotional pressure!
  • Crazy Gideon's Electronics where the owner is, well, crazy.

  • MAD had one of these in Al Jaffee's "TV Owners Hate Book". It's 1 a.m. by the clock. Apartments with windows open in hot weather. A guy is trying to watch the late movie, can barely hear it. "Stay away from me or I'll scream — Eeeeek!" Then the commercial starts in, TICK TOCK TICK TOCK WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU DID SOMETHING ABOUT A HEADACHE and our viewer is frantically scrambling across the carpet (no remotes back then) while dozens of neighbors lean out their windows spewing Symbol Swearing at the racket.

  • The Terminator. After falling asleep in his car and having a nightmare dream of the post-nuclear world he grew up in, Kyle Reese wakes up to the jarring sound of a radio advertisement, which he then switches off. This is even though he's parked outside a construction site — the sound of the machines is more familiar to him than commercials.
  • Toy Story gives us the assaultive, "sensory overload"-style advertisement (it was The '90s, after all) for "BUZZ LIGHTYEAR! THE WORLD'S COOLEST SUPERHERO IS NOW THE WORLD'S COOLEST TOY!!!" The filmmakers even got Penn Jillette to be the announcer, because he had "pretty much the loudest voice we could think of." Reportedly, Penn was so loud they could hear him outside the soundproof recording booth.
  • In Turning Red, the ad for 4*Town's concert tour is significantly louder than the show Mei and Ming watch.

  • Contact mentions this phenomena, which makes this trope older than people think, given the book came out in 1985. One character creates a Tivo/DVR type device that would mute the commercials automatically. The way the device knew it was time to mute? The sudden jump in volume.
  • Dave Barry had a few reader-input columns on the most hated commercials in America, among them "ads where the announcer SHOUTS AT YOU AS THOUGH YOU ARE AN IDIOT and then reads, in very muted tones, what sounds like the entire US tax code."
  • Impondrtables addresses this trope, suggesting it was brought forth to give exercise to a couch potato who has lost the remote. He gets up to turn down the volume on the commercial, but this makes the show too quiet, so he gets up to turn it back up, etc.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Chaser's War On Everything parodies this with the Surprise Spruiker and the Crazy Warehouse Guy.
  • Dissected on The Gruen Transfer, who did note that these can be quite effective and a dirt cheap to make.
    • The panel actually like these ads.
    Todd Sampson: It's So Bad, It's Good. It's like the Jerry Springer of advertising. You're watching it and thinking "I shouldn't be watching it. It's actually funny." And people love these ads. The think they're hilarious.
    • Not to mention panellist Dan Gregory pulled off his own spot-on impression of one.
    Dan: These ads are the modern equivalent of the Cockney geezer who stands on street corners going GET A BARGAIN! GET A BARGAIN! GET IT BEFORE THE POLICE MOVE ME ON!
  • An idea that Monty Python considered for Flying Circus was to have an episode that got gradually softer, so that people would keep turning up the volume, and at the end of the show, this trope would take effect deafeningly.
  • Invoked in one episode of Monk, "Mr. Monk and the TV Star", in which Brad Terry overdubbed his ex's yoga tape very softly, so she'd have to turn the volume all the way up, and a dubbed scream he'd doctored into the video would be heard outside, allowing him to murder her while appearing to be helping. Randy turns off the VCR upon noticing that the yoga tape is still playing, and the room is nuked with the sonic blast of an already earth-shaking car commercial. Randy scrambles to turn off the TV.
    Randy Disher: Sorry! Sorry!
    • Later in the episode, when Monk and Sharona go back to the crime scene to look at the evidence all over, Sharona turns on the TV and they are nuked with a music video playing also at full blast.
  • Mr. Bean: One episode shows Mr. Bean trying various methods to fall asleep. At one point he turns the TV to a quiet chess match in hopes it will bore him to sleep. It works at first, as he starts nodding off — but then it cuts to a very loud ad that wakes him back up and forces him to think of another method.
  • Better Call Saul: In "Bali H'ai", Mike returns home to find that a couple of Hector Salamanca's crew have broken in and are lying in wait. Unable to find them, he turns on the TV. What comes on is a Billy Mays informercial playing at full blast.
  • Horrible Histories has the Shouty Man, a character who "advertises" historical products in a very loud voice.
  • The Peter Serafinowicz Show has Derek Bum advertising Kitchen Gun and Toilet Grenade, adding gunshots and explosions to his own No Indoor Voice delivery.

  • A hit song in the 1970's, Overnight Sensation by the Rasberries, had a false ending where a piano outro got softer and lower and softer. Then stopped. Then as you were getting up to change the single, it exploded into one of the loudest and most brutal drum solos known to man, heralding the full band's return firing on all cylinders with a reprise of the main theme.
  • Haydn's "Surprise Sonata" does exactly the same thing. Only with a full classical orchestra. Hence the surprise.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • One Peanuts comic has Linus blown out of his chair by an ad for a "USED CAR SALE!!!" As it continues to blare, he finally yells for help.
  • A Garfield comic has Garfield being blown back in his chair by a ridiculously loud infomercial. "IT SLICES! IT DICES! IT CHOPS! IT CONJUGATES VERBS!! MY TEETH ARE SO WHITE NOW, I BLIND ONCOMING TRAFFIC!!!"

  • Netflix's stream-only spots (heard mainly on CBS-owned radio stations) take the form of a game show bonus round which starts off soft but ends up shrill. Made more irritating by the contestants' voices after they answer the host's arbitrary questions.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner: Parodied in the Strong Bad Email "monster truck", as Strong Bad produces a monster truck rally commercial that consists of him bellowing sentences into a microphone three or four words at a time. "SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SOMEDAY!"
  • Crunchyroll is plagued by this. Combined with their habit of running the same commercial multiple times in a row every commercial break, it might be deliberate on their part in order to encourage people to sign up for premium accounts.
    • They once ran an ad for Skullgirls. It was memorable mainly because it sounded like your speakers were exploding.
  • Parodied in CollegeHumor Picnic Face Powerthirst commercials.

    Western Animation 
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: In "Operation: Q.U.I.E.T.", Numbuh 1 is sleeping because he needs a good night's rest for the awards ceremony tomorrow, so the rest of Sector V is trying to keep things quiet. When Numbuh 2 turns on the TV, a loud commercial for a monster truck rally comes on ("MONSTER TRUCK RALLY! DO YOU LIKE MONSTER TRUCKS? LOUD MONSTER TRUCKS? THE LOUDEST MONSTER TRUCKS THIS SIDE OF LOUDSVILLE!"). Numbuh 2, 3, and 4 start running around in a panic trying to find the remote. Numbuh 5 is the only one who thinks of pushing the off switch at the bottom of the TV, and hisses, "Be quiet!"
  • Family Guy:
    • In "A Lot Going On Upstairs", in an attempt to stay awake, Stewie watches a TV channel where normal-volume ads for other TV shows are mixed in with ads for local services that peak horribly. An interesting example in that it's not intentional In-Universe.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Shell Shocked", SpongeBob, hoping to replace Gary's broken shell, sees a commercial on TV for Angry Jack's Shell Emporium, in which the titular Angry Jack rages about how many shells he has and how cheap they are. Turns out Angry Jack is much friendlier in person; he just acts angry on-camera to make his commercials louder since, as he puts it, "louder equals BETTER!".