Pop Quiz. Did you read the article I posted yesterday about the 5 Traits of the New American Consumer? The one where Young & Rubicam (known as Y&R, in the industry) conducted all of this research to advise corporations on how they can still market to us in spite of the fact that our attitudes and beliefs about consumerism are changing? And then did you watch the high-priced commercials that aired during the major Television Networks’ Season Premieres week to see how those same corporations tailored their marketing based on said research to identify intimately with your wallet?
Well, in case you did not, pull up a chair and take some notes …
Initially, my observation was “commercials suck.” See, it’s been a good eight years since I’ve actually waited impatiently while a commercial interrupted my programming to bring me its noise … thanks to TiVo by DirectTV. And, while I have argued for the last eight years that we did not need to waste our money on TiVo by DirectTV, my husband stood his ground … until this spring when we moved and decided we wanted to spend more time outside and less time parked in front of the TV. Sometime during the course of the summer, we were given an HDTV antenna, but had not yet tested it out, since we were too busy making memories in the great outdoors. That is, until this … the first week of Autumn, and the return of my on-screen BFFs. So, we watched the clock diligently and sat in front of the TV at the scheduled time to watch our chosen programs, just like in the good ol’ days … like how our grandparents watched television. So far, so good. Until my good friends, and favorite eye candy, McDreamy and McSteamy were so rudely interrupted by a Macy’s commercial. Really? I’m not sure exactly what the first round of commercials were about … because I was too busy playing the McDreamy vs McSteamy debate in my mind … tall dark and handsome, or tall dark and dirty? I think I’d have to go with McSteamy. I’m sorry … I’m one of those girls … where the bad boy always wins … that is, until I met my husband, of course …
(An aside to my husband: You do understand that this blog is a place where I am free to take creative liberties, even if they are not entirely true, because I am an artist … a writer. Right? Because, in spite of what the girls around the bonfire that night may have said, I do not have one of those silly “Top Five” lists. That’s just silly girl talk. And even if I did have one of those alleged lists, Matthew Mcconaughey, Bradley Cooper, Channing Tatum, Jon Stewart, and Eric Dane have got nothing on you, honey. Please. That’s crazy talk.)
I digress. So, as I was saying … once I regained my focus after being assaulted by the commercials, I prepared myself for the next round. This time, when the advertisements interrupted my programming, I thought … so, how are they going to spin this economy? What I found was fascinating. First, the Macy’s commercial … they did exactly what Y&R said they would do … appealed to our desire to buy quality goods by offering “brands you know” and “brands you trust.” Do I really trust a brand? Sure … I can justify paying a little more money for a quality item that I believe will hold up longer and fit more comfortably than the lower-cost alternative. But I do not believe for a moment that any given “brand” is not doing everything it can to cut production costs and increase profit margin at the expense of the consumer’s naïveté. Next was the credit card commercial showing some guy who was a NY Yankees fan who had to break up with his girlfriend, a Boston Red Sox fan, because she refused to convert. They took the most recognized rivalry in ALL of baseball (the all-American pass time), to which EVERY AMERICAN can relate, and then turned it into an opportunity to pay for overpriced sports tickets using your credit card with a slogan about “life experiences.” Because, as you read (if you did your homework), we Americans are not afraid to spend money … if we think it is a worthy “experience”. Consume. Consume. Consume.
I’m not saying not to spend your money on quality apparel or lifetime experiences. That’s what I’ve been preaching all along. But if I had to summarize my return to TV watching with a single piece of advice, it would be this … take your hard-earned savings and rush to your nearest electronics retailer to purchase a Digital Video Recorder for $50 so you never have to watch another commercial ever again. (I hate myself for saying that.)