Friday, November 12, 2010

Marketing 101

Now that Election Day has passed, the barrage of political TV commercials has ended and we are back to ads that are just trying to persuade us to buy things.

Though I prefer to speed through the ads when I have recorded shows -- or read or wander away when I'm watching something live -- there are a few that are quite entertaining. Top of the list to get me to watch are the E*Trade ads featuring the talking babies; they are cleverly written and, frankly, funnier than some of the programs. (That does not mean I think they should try to turn them into a TV series, like they tried with those GEICO cavemen a couple of years ago.)

Another current commercial shows two large rocks are having a conversation. Unlike the AmEx commercials of a year or two ago that featured a variety of objects that seemed to be either smiling or frowning, it takes a moment to realize that there are "faces" in these stones. In any case, they are discussing how they would drink Sierra Mist Natural if they could actually drink soda.
I'm not sure who thought up the idea that rocks would drink soda, but it does make for a memorable commercial. What I find amusing, however, is how they are selling a high-calorie soda as an "all-natural" beverage, highlighting that it is made with only natural sugar and contains no artificial sweeteners. But I suppose rocks don't have to worry about obesity.

Then there's the AT&T commercial that depicts a street scene with a number of people after an automobile accident. Everyone in it is texting on their cell phones. The tag line of this ad is something like "AT&T saves you from your cell phone so you can get back to your life." Well, how exactly does using your cell phone save you from it? I'm guessing they are trying to say that theirs works faster so you can send your text messages more quickly. But wouldn't that just mean people would text even more? Come to think of it, I guess that is what AT&T would really want.
As far as cellphones, I guess I'm a Luddite since I have one that only makes phone calls. It can receive a text message, but if it has the capability of sending one, I've never used it. And there is nothing so important in my email that I need to read it before I am at home or work and sitting at the computer. I mean, really, if you have something vital to tell me, call me -- the thing is a telephone!
But I'm truly baffled by why anyone would want to be able to download a TV show or a movie to their phone. On the one hand, we're being told to buy giant-screen HD-TVs that show us every pore on a person's face and on the other we should buy a phone with a 2-inch screen so we can watch the latest blockbuster films.

And, finally, there are the commercials featuring the pre-teen boy who talks about how his parents are "lame" because they don't own a fancy SUV. What is this? Years of peer pressure ads -- you want to have a better car than your friends and neighbors -- were not enough? Now we should spend on a vehicle with high-tech video and sound systems so our kids won't be embarrassed by us? It is a sad state of affairs for any parent who has to buy a showy car to gain the respect of his kids.


  1. Clearly you've forgotten the "Baby Bob" sitcom of 2002. If only we could all be so lucky.

    But my favorite current commercial is the one with the baby in the walker speeding down the highway to tune of Melanie's "Brand New Key." I think it's advertising an HP printer. It's such a weird combination --

  2. I made do with a primitive flip phone for a long time, but I was eventually forced into getting a smart phone so I could do authentication for work. And then I was forced to upgrade when the wireless phone networks were changed.

    The funny thing is, the longer I have a smart phone, the more stuff I do on it. I loved my Kindle e-reader when I got it, but now I hardly touch it any more, because it's easier and more convenient to read e-books on my phone, especially since my entire e-book collection is on an SD card installed on the phone (with periodic updated for new e-books). And of course, because the phone fits in my pocket. I've experimented with watching videos on my phone, but while it works fine, video files are too large to store very many on an SD card. But the darned screen is way too small to comfortably read scanned comics--I still do that on my desktop computer with a larger monitor.