FANDOM


WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic

The very odd practice of airing the same commercial over again 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. By far the sneakiest use of the trope.
    • Sometimes two or more ads are actually part of the same ad spot, and thus will always run consecutively.
  • Commercial A airs as the last commercial of the break. Then, before the actual action begins for the show, the announcers list all the sponsors with their taglines 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.

It is also the name for the Private Eye section on adverts, as well as a discontinued segment in The Daily Show also about advertising.

The Trope Namer is a Latin phrase which means 'until you are sick of it'. 'Nuf said.

Examples of Ad Nauseam include:


  • 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 a showing Groundhog Day on TV, they showed the same commercial six times in a row for every ad break. (If you haven't seen the movie, just read up on the trope named after the film to understand.)
  • During the run of a movie on ITV, the same advert kept popping up with absurd frequency, changing subtly each time. After a couple of dozen variations it was barely recognisable as the same ad.
  • 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 Ad Nauseam 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 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 A) short (the two together filled one "normal" ad slot) and B) clever, 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.
  • Movie theater example: in Regal cinemas, recently they've been showing up to six adverts for the new Audi in the time leading up to when the movie trailers start.
    • 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.
      • The frog also had a visible penis in the advert, until the censors noticed.
  • McDonald's has begun using 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). If a commercial pops up and it advertises Dasani water, wraps, and fruit parfait, it's a McDonald's ad.
  • Faithful viewers of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on the Sci Fi Channel suffered through a relentless deluge of Kahlua Mudslides.
    • Back during the Comedy Central era, the main sponsor of MST3K was Mentos.
      • Speaking of MST3k, there was a screening of several episodes as part of a sci-fi festival. Unfortunately, the screening was delayed, so the three (three!) video game adverts that they had had to be shown again... and again... and again... there were cheers when someone turned the screen off.
    • Drinking Game! During an airing (or sips for a marathon), take a drink of something that isn't a kahlua mudslide each time the commercial airs.
  • 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.)
  • A traffic law office near St. Louis, Missouri named "Ticket one" does this, in the most annoying fashion. Playing the exact same commercial twice in a row, and often, twice during the same commercial break. (I now have their jingle memorized. * sigh* )
  • 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?"
  • Head on, apply directly to the forehead! Head on, apply directly to the forehead! Head on, apply directly to the forehead! Head on, apply directly to the forehead!
    • If you don't know the campaign (you lucky son of a bitch) that was one commercial. In its entirety, aside from a blurb about the supposed "benefits" of this placebo drug spoken at the speeds normally associated with side effects. At one time, it would inevitably be followed by a duplicate. Later, it was immediately followed by a commercial whose premise was how annoying the normal one was. Yet they still played the normal one.
    • Don't forget its predecessor: "Freedom from hemmorhoids, FREEdHEM hemmorhoid cream. Freedom from hemmorhoids, FREEdHEM hemmorhoid cream. Freedom from hemmorhoids, FREEdHEM hemmorhoid cream."
    • Also a local lawyer's office called Lee Free parodied this, showing a lady holding a phone to her ear in a direct parody of the HeadOn commercial: "Lee Free, call when injured" thrice.
      • So does another lawyer, in South Carolina, the law offices of Bill Green. "What's the matter? What's the matter? What's the matter?"
    • Parodied in Yugioh The Abridged Series.
    • A Garry's Mod Machinima replaced " On" with "crab". You do the math.
  • 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.
    • Don't forget Girls Gone Wild every commercial break.
      • That isn't so bad - what's truly annoying is (say it with us) "Smilin' Bob".
  • The sneakest use ever of the A1/A2 variant was shortly after the rulings that led to Yes but What Does Zataproximetacine DO. Quite a few companies put out two different, yet very similar ads; one would mention the name of the product, but not what it did; while the other 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 Major League Baseball's online streaming service in the last two years knows how horrifically the company abuses ALL FOUR of these themes. In fact, in the course of a single baseball game, lasting 2 hours and 40 minutes, there were no less than 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.
  • Bob's Discount Furniture, a local 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?
  • MLB.tv, a streaming baseball website that charges for its services, originally had no ads at all. Slowly, though, they began sneaking ads in; at first, they would repeat two or three ads over and over again. By the end of the season, however, single ads were run repeatedly through the entirety of the ad breaks. Anyone watching a lot of baseball on MLB.tv in the 2008 season will remember the Yahoo!Sports and Sharp Aquos ads with particular venom.
    • This is also painfully the case for The Daily Show and The Colbert Report streams on their websites. Seems like they only get a single advertiser for each episode, and then they play that commercial 3-5 times during the show. If you're catching up on several episodes at once, this can get extremely annoying.
      • The same applies for South Park, except that 5-6 episodes in a row will all play the exact same ad at least four times during the each episode.
    • 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).
  • 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.
  • A series of Crispy Crunch commercials plays with this trope, using a series of commercials that only differ from each other in small ways.
  • 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.
  • Hulu does this a lot. On the plus side, there's only one commercial. On the other, it's always the same one.
  • 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 Chinese 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!
  • Why buy a mattress anywhere else? * Ding!*
  • A variant Ad Nauseam applies to those still ads that run on movie screens prior to the trailers and Audi commercials. How many times can you re-run the same stupid trivia questions and guess-the-silhouette gags, that invariably promote either Coca-Cola or whatever flick's showing elsewhere in the movieplex?
  • The X-Box Live game One Versus a Hundred 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 X-Box music streaming.
  • A certain 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 recent AT&T advertisement used this in a smart way as part of an Overly Long Gag promoting its coverage.
  • Sponsored online streaming video sites will often contain commercial breaks, and it's almost always the same one every time.
  • 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
    • The same commercial has gone over to Belgium, first the spot, then the slogan 4 times in a row. I thought there were problems at the network when I first saw it.
  • 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.
  • 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. Crummy Division II 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.
  • During a livestream of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, an ad to "unleash the power of Magneto" popped up quite frequently, resulting in Magneto becoming a Fanon character.
  • 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 a train.
  • 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.
  • Carmike Cinemas shows 2-3 advertisements for Coke/Diet Coke before previews start.
  • If you live in Wisconsin, local ad blocks tend to follow a set pattern of "HOM Furniture/Local Advert/HOM Sleep Express".
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.