If you’ve had the pleasure of watching the Armed Forces Network which is produced for U.S. military and many other categories of government employees serving overseas, you’ll remember those irritating commercials. After you’ve been without AFN for awhile, according to many people, the feeling you have for these commercials becomes a fondness. But this takes awhile.
If you’re not familiar with AFN, the way it works is that they have agreements in place with the major networks to rebroadcast shows, generally 24 hours after they’ve aired in the States. This wasn’t always the case – as a kid it would take months or more. But the advertisers whose commercials would normally air during the shows haven’t paid for the additional audiences – and the government isn’t party to the agreement with the networks anyway. So these shows go overseas with a bunch of gaps that need to be plugged…with something. I’m guessing otherwise the TV schedules would get impossible to follow – so they try and keep things on the hour and half hour. So what we get is public service announcements – frequently educational, often encouraging viewers to behave responsibly, such as wearing reflective gear on motorcycles, not smoking, things like that. And to be fair, the standard of these commercials has gone way, way up over the years. But I think the vast majority are produced by the military itself, sometimes with assistance of outside contractors.
Unfortunately, no matter how good the commercials are, it seems that AFN simply can’t produce the volume needed to keep things interesting. As a result, even the best AFN commercials get repeated over an over again until they start to get really irritating. Some are irritating from the start – for instance, right now the military is on a big anti-smokeless tobacco kick. They’ll use anything they can to get military personnel to stop using smokeless tobacco – and woe unto you if you happen to be eating dinner when these commercials come on.
To give you an idea of some of the commercials AFN viewers get to watch over and over and over again, I’ve included a few below. Enjoy!