In Lotz's paper "Television Outside the Box," the VCR was cited as one of the "first technologies to trouble understandings of television" by being a transitionary development between traditional forms of tv, which dictated when you watched a type of content, to what we describe today as Post-TV digital media (52). Not only did VCR's allow people to view film, which at the time was considered more artistically credible, but gave viewers freedom from the bombardment of commercials that traditionally interrupted a story's flow. Reading this paper gave me a sense of nostalgia towards my old VHS tapes but also led me to think about how corporations have evolved advertisements to make them more watchable and how they’ve worked around viewers’ to watch commercial-free content.
Like in early television shows like The Goldbergs, corporations seemed to find ways to embed their advertisements into tv/film-like content, some specifically disguising commercials into VHS-ready plot/character-focused story-telling. With this in mind, McDonald’s straight-to-video series The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald is a perfect example. From 1998-2003, McDonald’s sold VHS tapes in stores and used popular Nickelodeon-esque animation and humor to create brand loyalty in children (in fact they were created by the same creators/musicians from popular Nickelodeon shows). These videos put McDonald’s trademark characters into a world and situations that children could respond to, keeping their interest for longer than a one or two minute commercial. What seems smart about this strategy is that it used a tangible object (a vhs tape) to create the idea that what is essentially an extended commercial can actually be seen as a gift or reward from parent to child. The convergence was from store to TV, creating a new means of increasing revenue in addition to brand awareness. Moving forward to today, these VHS tapes might be obsolete but McDonalds has found new ways to appeal to children in contemporary forms. happymeals.com is an interactive site where children can play games, watch videos, and check out the new toys offered in happy meals. They can do it with more mobility than a VHS tape, which has to go directly into a television, which allows them to interact with McDonalds at anytime they want. The site is essentially an extensive advertisement whose sales-based agenda is more entertaining and less skippable than a commercial.