Your Customers are NOT Idiots

Maybe I’m just cynical because I woke up with a head-cold this week and I’m feeling miserable, but I’ve noticed a trend that’s occuring a lot lately in television advertising: companies are treating their customers like idiots.

I used to refer to this as the “Stupid Husband” complex and even commented about it on Katherine’s blog. Commercials for house-hold products were showing husbands acting like complete imbeciles for the amusement of their wife. “Oh honey,” a wife would say after her husband covered the kitchen floor with crumbs and debris. “You’re so silly,” she’d say as she watched him Swiffering up with a childish look of awe on his face. She’d shake her head and look to her kids who’d share the same expression of parental whim.

Now I’ve expanded this belief to car companies and product-pushers using a “Stupid Customers” marketing push. Hyundai has now what they call The Big Duh Sales Event, where they’re goading customers into buying with the ethic that you’d have to be a big dummy not to take advantage of their sale. Kia has a “Save the Greenbacks” Greenpeace spoof where they’re telling you that it’s an inexpensive line of cars to buy, though it’s obviously spawned from the American public’s turn toward living “greener” and caring about the environment. With only a sentence fragment referring to fuel efficiency, they’re basically throwing your concerns back in your face about living ecologically. “Look,” they seem to say, “we’re helping you save the endangered greenback [read: dollars], so you should buy our cars. Your concerns about the REAL threat of global warming are a joke to us.”

In my posting on Katherine’s site, I’d gone through various examples to counteract her disgust at the way women were treated in TV shows and advertising and prove that husbands are being slammed as much as wives. Now, I realize that the trend is to slam everyone. Bullying, name-calling and nazi-esque propaganda and manipulation works for the White House, why not for corporations? These machinations churn my stomach and, though I’ve already sworn off buying anything but a hybrid or EV, their campaign is actually helping me to narrow my search. Sorry guys. I can take a joke as much as the next person, but not when the joke is me. And not when you’re using it to gain my allegiance and get me to buy your products. The playground mentality doesn’t work anymore.

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