Friday, 16 August 2013

Blipvert - Blippin' Adverts

Television, Static, Digital
Image by Sibe Kokke


Noun. Late 20th century.
[Blend of BLIP and ADVERT.]

A short, information-packed advertisement or other broadcast.
Also, a subliminal image projected very briefly during a music video.

In the film Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future, a blipvert is a high-intensity concentrated stream of TV advertising, compressed into a couple of seconds with the purpose of preventing channel surfing during the ad break. The problem with the blipvert is that it's so intense that it can cause hyper-stimulation of the body's neural connections with head-explodingly messy results. As it's never good practice to explode your target market before they've bought anything, the TV executives have a problem to deal with and the plot of a cheesy 1980s sci-fi film has somewhere to go.

In the real world, blipverts may or may not exist (if they do, they've been too fast for me and they haven't yet caused me to blow up), but there are some exceptionally short adverts out there. An advert for MuchMusic, for example, entered the Guinness Book of Records with brain-bafflingly brief adverts just 1/60 of a second long. While the efficacy of subliminal messages and advertising is debated, the true value of such a campaign probably comes from the publicity generated by making such short ads.

Have you ever had your neurons overloaded by a blipvert? 

Do you know of any blipverts, either in ad or music video form?

Have you seen Max Headroom, and is it really as rubbish as it sounds?

Do please comment below.


  1. I don't think blipverts can have any effect - the brain might be able to process the information that quickly, but could the eye transmit McDonald's the information accurately to the brain that quickly?


    1. I don't know. Blipverts would by definition not be subliminal, and if subliminal messages can have an effect (I keep reading conflicting evidence on this), surely a blipvert could. I wouldn't fancy trying to to get a business's phone number off one though.

  2. Never even heard of them, let alone seen them!
    They sound annoying!

    1. They do sound annoying, even more annoying than advertising generally. And if it's true that they can make you explode ...