Tag Archives: discounts

Profits of Doom

Oh the humanity!

Oh the humanity! and the savings!

If you thought “Black Friday” was as grisly as our post-industrial modern retail consumerism could get – you thought wrong. Dead wrong.

I often lament what I call the death of empathy in our society. I see it as a contributing factor to all sorts of various ills that plague us.

“So a bunch of people died? Why shouldn’t I use it to make a quick buck?”

Thanks for playing, but if you have to ask, it’s already too late for you. KERCHUNK! Here ya go. I just punched your one-way ticket to Hell. Have a nice trip.

If there’s one clear and present danger to the world of retail it’s this: There aren’t enough days in the year for sales. Am I right? We need more sales! 365 days just isn’t enough. For too long we have been limited by the rules of decorum and shit that makes sense, like crafting “sales” around events like holidays, birthdays and fun stuff.

No longer will we be limited so harshly. There are savings to be had. Swing open the gates of Hell. It’s time to cash in on human suffering. These savings are gonna be good.

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Money Can’t Miserly Love

A wealthy man was generously offering his counsel to a poor man. He said, “The truth of the matter is this: Money can’t buy you love.”

The dispensing of wisdom was briefly interrupted by the arrival of a UPS delivery driver. “Ah. If you’ll excuse me, I see my daily delivery of useless plastic consumeristic widgets made in China has arrived. A box! A box! Oh goodie, a box!”

Spittle flew from jiggly jowls as the man lurched for his box cutter and sliced open the cardboard like a battlefield surgeon. There wasn’t even time for triage. In moments he held the widgets up before his eyes, which briefly glazed over as various pleasure centers in his brain were involuntarily activated, then in a few mere seconds he carelessly tossed the items aside. He was already bored with them.

“Now then, where were we? Ah yes, true happiness must come from within.”


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Let’s get Progressively critical

Watch this commercial. Now, ask yourself, “What is the main theme here?” What is the message that Progressive wants you to take away after investing 30 seconds of your life to watch their persuasion attempt?

We offer lots of discounts that will save you money.

Cool. That’s a good response. There are no right or wrong answers here. 🙂

Let’s analyze the commercial a bit further, though. Let’s put on our critical thinking caps. I mean, it would be unwise to simply absorb what advertisers want directly into our brains without checking it out first, right?

Flo asks: “Are you a safe driver?”
Customer: “Yes.”
Flo responds: “Discount.”

OK, this is an easy one. What did we just learn here? If you don’t have a good enough driving record you will pay more.

Eh, what? I thought this commercial was about “discounts.” Well, one person’s discount is apparently another person’s surcharge. But we’re well-trained customers of insurance by now. We know that it’s perfectly reasonable to pay more based on crummy driving records.

Speaking of training, if we want to dig a bit deeper into critical thought here: The word “safe” in this context is actually a euphemism. Without even realizing it we’re also buying into the concept that our driving records are valid indicators of “safe” driving.

Flo asks: “Do you own a home?”
Customer: “Yes.”
Flo responds: “Discount.”

What? Now this is getting a little out there. If we rent (not buy) our home then we have to pay more? Why? What’s up with that? Something tells me the answer has to do with actuary tables and “risk” and things like that.

Flo asks: “Are you gonna buy online?”
Customer: “Yes.”
Flo responds: “Discount!!!”

Whoa. This one really excited her. If you order by phone or go in the store you’ll also pay more. The web site is the holy grail of retail. When it works properly, it acts as a buffer between the business and the icky icky customer.

See how every single time Flo uses the word “discount” she’s actually talking about segments of their customer base who actually have to pay more? It certainly doesn’t sound quite as exciting when you think of it like that.

So, if you are a customer with a bad driving record who isn’t buying your own home and won’t be buying online, you really need to be wary of this particular persuasion attempt. If you walk away thinking that Progressive has discounts for you and can save you money you’ve really gotten the wrong idea.

Of course, that’s exactly the point. That’s exactly the way the persuasion attempt was designed to work on your brain. And that is a very “progressive” sort of thing.

Heck, I think something as drug-induced as a gecko selling insurance might even make more sense. 🙂