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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Commercials Calling Consumers Stupid

I’ve noticed something that might not yet qualify as a trend in commercials, but is still somewhat bothersome if not disturbing. Some companies have apparently not only decided their target consumers are stupid, but that calling them stupid is a good way to sell them products.

The Sprint commercials probably amaze me the most for their openness about insulting the people who use their products. There’s the one with the young woman at a table in a restaurant or diner sitting across the table from the man she’s apparently been dating. He announces that he just received her text breaking up with him. Then I believe he says he got her breakup e-mail. Finally, with a creepy grin the woman shows him her phone to show him that she has changed her Facebook status to “single.”

The unanswered questions are a) why isn’t this man doing cartwheels? and b) how the hell does this make me want to buy their product?

Then there’s the Windows phone commercial, which is actually mocking how the world has started walking around staring at their phones, otherwise known as handheld computers. It’s perfect, almost. Their selling a phone to rescue us from our phone.


The selling point is supposed to be that their phone puts everything in one place. Isn’t that the problem? Isn’t that why the guy in the ad doesn’t notice his fairly hot wife in the black lingerie because he’s looking at his phone.

Another example that I see because I admittedly watch too much TV is the two teeny bopper girls talking over each other while they listen to headphones. I don’t know what they’re selling, though I’m not the target audience.

But it doesn’t change my point that the message from advertisers seems to be, “Buy our products and be like these idiots.”

Let me grab my credit card!

I’m sure some marketing genius would tell me that the whole point is to make their product memorable, and clearly they’ve accomplished this goal based on my own words. It would be a fair point.

But I still just want to punch the trainer in the face who e-mails the athlete to tell him that he’s out for the season when he’s sitting right beside the guy. It might help me remember their service, but it certainly doesn’t make me want to buy it.

Maybe that says something not-so-great about me. Yet, this type of advertising doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, which means it must be working. And that says something not-so-great about a lot of other people.