Last week the Wall Street Journal ran an article about a new animated series on Fox called Oleg the Taxi Man. The cartoons, however, are only 8-seconds long and will run inbetween commercials to entice viewers not to flip the channel during commercial breaks. In the short clips, Oleg the taxi driver will offer up random thoughts and talk to ‘spoof versions’ of Tom Cruise and Donald Trump. Fox Broadcasting’s president of sales Jon Nesvig, told the WSJ: “It’s something that pops up that is unexpected and the viewer says, ‘What the hell is that?’ It may keep them around for a while longer.” The paper also reported that other networks are starting to experiment with programming inbetween commercial breaks, though Fox seems to be the only one taking an animated approach.
A couple of the 8-second vignettes are viewable at the Wall Street Journal’s video page (look for “Turn up the Commercials”). Granted, there’s only so much that one can do in eight seconds, but I was still surprised by the concept’s pointlessness. If anybody at Fox had understood the medium of animation and how it could be applied, they could have captured everybody’s attention with something eye-catching, funny and exciting; instead they came up with an unappealing CG character sitting in a taxi and talking, something that would have likely been funnier in live-action. TV commercials don’t usually make me want to change the channel, but having to watch these lamely conceived animated vignettes certainly will.