Tag Archives: perspective

Literally Phoning It In

4 Apr

Commercials are endlessly fascinating to me; to get to your attention, it had to go through several levels to get approval before it got on the air. So how is it that a commercial so bad made the airwaves?

After so many days of serious posts, I figure I need to talk about something trivial. Vitamin supplements are the source of my pain today… well, ads for supplements, anyway. These radio ads are literally someone calling in on their crappy phone, testimonials about how they’re going higher, faster, stronger thanks to Brand X. There’s even a pet version of this with a cute dog barking at the right moment when the customer says the brand name.

So when you’re listening to AM radio, where the signal can be glitchy, and you can often barely hear the radio hosts… adding a “I can barely hear you on the phone” element seems ridiculous. Same reason I hate it when people call into the show; which is why my favorite shows have abandoned that schtick and have settled with texts and email.

But I have to remember Marketing 101: product, price, promotion, and place. The product is super pills. Just like any medication, you can’t show the disease, you show the cure. You show someone living clear of plaque psoriasis or walking barefoot without fungal warts. Price… eh, let’s not mention the price. It’s never mentioned, just a free sample, because once you get sold on the item, paying $50 a month (or two weeks) seems reasonable. Until you do, it seems ridiculous. When I started losing my hair at 25, I could have used Rogaine, but it cost… well, exactly the same. I didn’t have money in my budget to pay $50 a month! So better to shave my head than carve out a chunk of my wallet.

Promotion–this is a radio ad. So maybe this is the clue to understanding a “phoned-in” ad. So many times, I’m used to advertisers using the same ad for online, TV, and radio… and it doesn’t make much sense. When the voice actor says “click on the link to learn more,” I start chuckling because… I’m listening on the radio! A voice actor gets tuned out. Having the host (or a host you know) lets the ad keeps your attention longer, but that means paying the host more. So if the average radio listener’s ear makes the slick commercial ineffective, why not throw a little cash at some customers (or better yet, employees pretending to be customers), record the calls, then shoot it out to the radio networks? You’ve saved on production costs and gotten a superior product!

Which leads to the place–you’re trying to reach people in cars. They can’t “click to learn more,” they can’t even write anything down. So… repeat the brand name, repeat the phone number, and hope it sticks in the listener’s head. The advantage of the testimonial is the same with having the radio host read the ad; it lends the illusion of respectability. And hey, if you repeat the ad, they’ll remember the stupid brand name in their sleep!

So… perhaps there is method behind the madness after all. Now if someone can explain the stupid Coke ad where this excited voice actor sounds as if drinking a new Coke flavor will lead to you becoming the next Steve Jobs, that would be helpful. Or Mountain Dew’s “Baby-Puppy-Monkey” ad that will still wake me up in the middle of the night in a terror. I find it funny that Wikipedia calls the reception “mixed,” but all the examples of that are all awful.

Am I thinking about this too hard? Is it just a bad ad? Or a good ad in disguise? Let me know in the comments below! And if you need another ad, check out one of my books! $1.99 is the price, but if you need a free sample, go ahead and download one of my stories. Looking forward to hearing your testimonials. 😀


30 Sep

I cringe when I hear the word “furbaby.” I love my pets, don’t get me wrong, and I’ve spent way more at the vet than I feel comfortable with. But they’re not your children – and people using that word tells me something fundamentally wrong in America.

Now if you’ve had your kids, you’re waiting for (or have) grandkids, you get a pass. I understand the nurturing gene and how it doesn’t turn off after child-rearing age. I understand wanting to pour that into a pet. But don’t expect me to start talking to your “furry child” as if it’s going to speak English any moment now.

What really scares me is that the term is shifting down to younger and younger women… and let’s face it, it’s mostly women. (See Nurturing Gene) I’ll admit it, relationships are hard, children are a pain in the ass, but… that’s how we exist as a species. I didn’t realize until I had kids how different that experience is.

Pets are far easier; they don’t talk about, they want to be pet (unless they’re fish). All you have to do is feed them, walk ’em, clean up after them… and you get unconditional love. Now full disclosure, I have two cats, several fish, and way too many snails. The amount of work that goes into an aquarium is a serious pain in the butt; didn’t realize how much that was when the daughter wanted some fish. My older cat barfs on the carpet every other day. I have to do that with kids, too, but let’s face it… my cat doesn’t talk back about doing his homework.

The problem with the term “furbaby” is that it tells me that I should treat your pet like your child. Not just you do, I should. I’m not against animal rights, but don’t think animals have the same rights as humans. Your furbaby is not going to take care of you when you’re old. Your furbaby is not contributing to our society. Furbabies are the reason we need to import thousands of people into America just to keep our population rate just above replacement level (that’s 2.2 children / adult, in case you’re wondering).

Now you can say there are couples that can’t have kids, or you can’t get/keep a partner, or kids shouldn’t be brought into families that don’t want them… all valid points. Just don’t pretend your pets are your kids. They’re pets.

Too harsh? Not harsh enough? Tell me in the comments below!

Most Disputes Die and No One Shoots

24 Jul

My son got obsessed with the musical Hamilton about two… three months ago, which means I heard half the soundtrack before I even heard one minute of the actual Broadway cast. When I actually heard it, and later saw it on Disney+, I found it very interesting what he chose NOT to sing.

What was my son’s favorite song list?

  • Alexander Hamilton
  • My Shot
  • The Schuyler Sisters
  • Right Hand Man
  • Ten Duel Commandments
  • History Has Its Eyes on You
  • Yorktown
  • The Room Where It Happens

What was my favorite songs from Hamilton?

  • Right Hand Man
  • Satisfied
  • Ten Duel Commandments
  • Yorktown
  • Dear Theodosia
  • Cabinet Battle #1
  • It’s Quiet Uptown
  • Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story

What I noticed was that my son chose songs that are mostly from the first half of the musical. This is when Hamilton is up and coming, young, willing to take risks, seeking glory. He’s also big on the big numbers. My list also included the big numbers, but they were the ones that tend to pull at my heart strings more. Unrequited love, fawning over your children, thinking about your legacy.

This shouldn’t surprise me, but I’m amazed how the same musical can have different effects on people. My son really loved the intensity and power of the main character’s personality; I gravitated to his struggles, his failures, his feelings of inadequacy. Part of that is life experience. Certainly, I haven’t accomplished everything I wanted to do at 13 – nowadays, I’m not sure I want to, because I know exactly what it costs to achieve them. At the same time, “there’s a lot of things I haven’t done” and I worry if it’ll ever happen.

In the musical, I take comfort that A. Ham was a real person. He had great ideas, but he frequently did them in ways that made enemies, he made big mistakes, and he felt like he had failed even after everything he accomplished. I weep openly every time I hear “It’s Quiet Uptown,” because the loss of a child is something I fear, and I understand what that means to a parent.

Of course, history has a way of repeating itself. Like when my brother (four years older) watched Fiddler on the Roof every day for six months. He was trying to get the lead of Tevye in the high school production. I can still sing every %*(#*$ line from that musical. That was thirty years ago.

So what did you take away from Hamilton? Have you been avoiding it? Did you hate it? Let me know in the comments below!

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