Commercials tend to be louder than the program, presumably so one can hear them from the kitchen or 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?)
It's possible ads just seem louder because of the explosion and duration of intense sound, compared to the quiet moments in 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 discredited.
See also the Loudness War, which is a very similar concept as applied to music.
As of 2008 the government of the UK has introduced legislation to make this illegal; the US followed suit in 2010, one of the few things allowed to pass through the standing filibuster in the Senate. As of September 2012, Canada is going to be following suit as well.
- 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.
- HI! I'M BARRY SCOTT!
- The loudness of the Cillit Bang ad was even parodied by a comedian here.
- See Also the late Billy Mays!
- "BILLY MAYS HERE!!" Cue the frantic scramble for the Mute button before your eardrums are blown in.
- 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.
Hold it, hold it, what the hell is that shit?
- 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.
- "FIVE MINUTES FROM DOWNTOWN DALLAS! EAST ON I-30!"
- 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:
- FUCK YOOOUUUU, BALTIMORE!
- "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.
- NOW LIFE ALERT CAN HELP YOU IN CASE OF A FIRE
- 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.
- "THAT'S A LOW PRICE!!!" "I KNOW!"
- Commercials in most TV stations in Brazil fit this trope exactly.
- UK example: YOU BUY ONE, YOU GET ONE FREE... I SAY, YOU BUY ONE, YOU GET ONE FREE!
- 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 turned this Up to Eleven 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.
- FanFiction.net 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 Mc Lachlan, 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.
"IF YOU DON'T BUY FROM CRAZY GIDEON, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH YOUR HEAD! HURRY BEFORE I CHANGE MY MIIIIINNNND!!"
- 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: "BUZZ LIGHTYEAR! THE WORLD'S COOLEST SUPERHERO IS NOW THE WORLD'S COOLEST TOY!!!" The filmmakers wanted the commercial to be a hokey old 1950s-style commercial, but the Disney execs insisted on a contemporary (it was The '90s, after all) "sensory overload" advertisement. So they got Penn Jillette to be the announcer, because he had "pretty much the loudest voice we could think of." Penn was so loud they could hear him outside the soundproof recording booth.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- The panel actually like these ads.
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!
- Not to mention panellist Dan Gregory pulled off his own spot-on impression of one.
- 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 the murderer overdubbed his ex's yoga tape very softly so the added scream would be heard outside, thus 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 gets nuked with the sonic blast of an already earth-shaking car commercial. He scrambles to turn off the TV.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Family Guy's WACKY WAVING INFLATABLE ARM-FLAILING TUBE MAN! WACKY WAVING INFLATABLE ARM-FLAILING TUBE MAN! WACKY WAVING INFLATABLE ARM-FLAILING TUBE MAN! Along with Al Harrington's other commercials.
- 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!".