Why Do Companies Purposely Have Annoying Ads?

cruise ship

Picture by heju – Pixabay

To be fair, not every company purposely produces annoying ads or uses ad delivery vehicles, such as popups, that irritate people. However, many do exactly that. A person might wonder why in the world would a company use an ad that annoys people? There is actually a good reason and this has been thoroughly studied by many ad agencies.

Traffic Generator

It seems counter intuitive that if a person is annoyed by an ad or ad vehicle that they would actually buy a particular product, but that is exactly what does happen. Nearly everyone has their favorite and least favorite ads. Millions of dollars a year are spent on clever ads. For instance, many people actually watch the Super Bowl (American NFL Football) just to see the ads. This is the most expensive advertising venue on TV, in the world. The total cost of those ads is staggering. Those companies wouldn’t spend millions on the advertising if the ads didn’t end up generating far more money in sales, though. The fact is that the ads do nearly always generate a huge amount in product and service sales. It’s true that most of these ads are meant to be cute rather than annoying.

However, lots of companies have learned that even irritating ads generate a lot of traffic. It may not make a great deal of sense, but it doesn’t have to. As long as it results in revenue, the ad or method of delivering it will be used. Only if the company begins to lose money due to the ad will they consider removing it.

Name Recognition

The purpose of advertising is to get traffic and to raise awareness of a product or service. A large part of this is to get as many people as possible to remember the company name or their product. This is true of the cute and clever ads and it is just as true of the tremendously bothersome ones. The bottom line is that if people aren’t aware that a company or their product exists, they are unlikely to buy the product. Stating the name of the company or product a minimum of three times in the ad, if it is an action ad, is one way that this is done. It honestly works. When a person hears the name three or more times, they are likely to remember it.

For exactly this reason, irritating and annoying ads can help a company. People remember the name, because of the annoyance. The more the ad bothers them, the more apt they are to remember the name. This isn’t entirely a negative, because long after the irritation has been forgotten, the product or company name usually isn’t. People are many times more likely to buy a product of a company they’ve heard of than they are from one they’ve never heard of, so it actually works out to be in the best interest of the company, perhaps now or perhaps sometime in the future.

Put in a different way, let’s say that you are annoyed by a popup ad today that features a vacation on Sunken Ships Cruise Lines (I just made this up, obviously). You are irritated by the popup and have neither the money nor the time to take a cruise anyway, so there is also a total lack of interest. Mostly, you are just bothered by the popup. Now, let’s say that two years pass and you have more money on your hands, as well as more time to work with. You decide that it might be enjoyable to take a cruise. When you look into it more deeply (no pun intended), you see the name “Sunken Ships Cruise Lines”. You are somewhat likely to book a cruise with them because you’ve heard the name before. The clincher is that you may not even remember where you heard or saw the name before. That part makes no difference. That name recognition that came from the annoying ad has done its job.

Why do companies purposely display annoying ads and use irritating ways to display them? Because the ads drive revenue, even when they are bothersome. It is exactly why some companies, especially shady ones, still send unsolicited emails.


  1. Priscilla King

    I learned this theory in psychology class too…maybe it’s because I’ve made a point of resisting it, ever since, but this theory doesn’t work for me. Someone said earlier this week, “I’ve never seen a Netflix ad.” No? I’ve not seen one lately, either…but after all these years, when I see the word “Netflix,” I think “obnoxious pop-up ads, no way, not in this world, not in this lifetime, not if they paid me to take whatever they were trying to sell.”

    1. Rex Trulove Post author

      I tend to agree with you and feel that way personally, for the most part, but the studies that have been done show you and I to be outside the norm. I take that as a compliment. Still, for most people, they are more likely to buy something from a name they’ve heard, even if the reason they’ve heard the name is because of obnoxious ads. Even though that might be true, though, I can’t see myself ever getting car insurance from Progressive, for exactly the same reason. I am more than tired of hearing how Flo will save me money on my car insurance and of how in-your-face those commercials were.

  2. Andria Perry

    Power of suggestion works on many people. Not me. I do like some ads but the ones with music, I can hear in this office and not see the ad on t.v. and I find myself walking around singing the song.

    I stumbled this article

    1. Rex Trulove Post author

      Yep, but it clearly works, since they keep spending money to do it. It is sad, but such are the ways of the world.

    1. Rex Trulove Post author

      Pretty much, yes. For most people, it is much easier to remember something related to a bad experience than it is to remember something positive.

  3. Kyla Matton Osborne

    Good insights. On a related topic, advertisers often use outrageous content (silly, exaggerated, sometimes even anger-provoking) to boost brand recognition and make you remember their product. it works!

    1. Rex Trulove Post author

      Yes, and performers often do the same thing for the same reason. The Brittany Spears and Madonna kiss was entirely for publicity, for instance.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *