9 a.m. — Figured my best bet would be the news nets. Consumers, hence advertisers, are still glued to coverage of Operation Iraqi Freedom, right? Sorry, there aren't any local spots there. Not even that ubiquitous spot for Dodgers season tickets. In my morning time zone, Fox News Channel and Cable News Network are glued to coverage of a tainted mail scare out of Washington state. Tired of all the supposition of what it all means, I finally move on.
10:15 a.m. — I change to USA Network, showing the theatrical Loser. Finally, there's a local spot for the Pico Rivera Indoor Swap Meet, an outdoor flea market that carries an odd variety of products. Apparently one of its selling points: It's the place to go for tattoos done in a non-sterile environment. The commercial is sharp and informative. I'm pretty impressed with the production values, though I'm not sold on the venue. There are more interesting items at the weekend yard sales in my neighborhood, and I don't need body art.
The next commercial feels like an old friend. The burger joint on the boulevard, Norm's has been running this spot forever: One of the diners gulping a burger is sporting Dorothy Hamill's old coif. It's always tagged with two little boys, arms around one another's shoulders, crooning, "Don't forget the paaaSTRAAAmmmeeee!" They must be in high school by now, being teased unmercifully with that phrase. But what's most unsettling: The food looks off-color.
11 a.m. — I switch over to E! Entertainment Television. Ah, an excuse to watch Saturday Night Live reruns from the first seasons. They hold up well. Finally, another local ad, a glossy production touting the variety of services at Dentaland in nearby Montebello: happy, shiny people in braces and laser-whitened teeth. It's almost enough to make one forget the piercing sound of drilling…but I, and my phobias, digress.
11:44 a.m. — My stomach's rumbling and I catch an ad for my favorite Mexican restaurant, El Cholo in La Habra. The shots are clean; the food looks appetizing…Say, is it the season yet for green-corn tamales? (Note to creative: It might be worth shooting an ad that advises fans of the availability of this place's specialties.)
3 p.m. — This afternoon, my hunting is slim. I must be hitting the networks before or after breaks. Finally, during MTV's Real World Road Rules Challenge reruns I hit a familiar spot. To the tune of As Time Goes By, a familiar spokesman hawks the burgers at a local mini-chain, Rick's Drive Thru. The performer's script is accompanied by excruciating close-ups of hamburgers and fries that look, well, greenish. In fact, it's not too appetizing and I wonder if this is due to the age of this spot. I can remember seeing it, and one other corny commercial for this client, for what seems like the last 10 years. But then I remember the Norm's spot and it was tinged, too.
6 p.m. — Into the evening, I seem to have stumbled into the infirmary ghetto. Arthritis medications, nostrums for irritable bowel syndrome and Viagra. Hey, if I wanted to see those drugs promoted I'd just go to my e-mail box! Next, I see a spot on VH1 that may explain the scarcity of new local ads: "Looking for a cutting-edge career? Charter digital media has openings in ad sales…"