Sad girl in snow

So I went to school for computer science, but along the way picked up a business minor, as such I had to take at least one marketing class. Directly because of this, I often can step back and pick apart advertisements, and figure out what audience a commercial is aimed at, how it’s aimed, and that sort of thing.

Point of fact, everyone knows and loves the Geiko commercials. Some of them are totally random, put out there simply to remind people of their name in tandom with good (clean) humor. But many of their commercials also say “why”. They save people money, they have good service, they have a high approval rating, it’s easy to switch and here’s how, etc. They’re just good commercials in general. (As a totally random note, State Farm is now apparently trying the humor angle as well, and has failed in my opinion, but I digress.)

However, this morning I heard a commercial on the radio. I forget the name of the company, but in this case I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing. It’s pretty much a male voice, over some emotional music talking to you, the audience, about how you often think of winter as a fun time to go out and play in the snow, but then shifts gears into talking about how some people don’t have heat, and sit shivering in their homes throughout the winter. Complete with clip of a little girl saying, “Mommy, I’m cold.” Then goes on to say that this company (an oil company of some sort?) wants to help, and all you have to do is call such and such number, and they will give you all they help they can in keeping you warm this winter.

It elicited an emotional response from me. And so I figured the commercial had done its job. It was aimed to make people aware of the plight of people without enough hea…wait a minute. Sure, at the beginning, it was aimed at “me”, (“Me” being people with enough money for heat throughout the winter, only suffering when my mother started menopause.) but somewhere after the little girl talking, it suddenly shifted to be talking to “them”. (“Them” being the people without enough money for heat.) The end of the commercial is, indeed, telling those without enough heat to call such and such a number for help staying warm, and at that point, I realized I no longer had any idea to whom this commercial was aimed, or what the actual point of it was.

When it started, I thought it was one of those commercials that would bring up a sense of duty, protectiveness, or even pity in the general populace, and then ask you to donate money or something of that nature to the company so they can help. The tone of voice, the music, and especially the clip of the girl all seemed to drift toward that end.

But the actual message itself in the second half was talking to those without heat, telling them to call to get help; and that this company would help these people by donating so many barrels of oil toward this end. (They gave a monitary figure in the millions.)

So, of course, as I’m driving down the road, my mind is putting together the fact that the commercial makes sense, if you think about the nature of companies in the United States, King of Capitalism. The entire message was aimed at “me”. It was saying basically, “Hey, we’re going to make you feel emotional, and then show you what fabulously wonderful people we are, by offering to do whatever we can to help these poor unfortunatepeopleheresourphonenumber.

Now I can say they failed in the fact that I don’t remember the name of the company at all. (Though possibly this is because I was too busy being confused about the nature of the commercial.) However, for those people who don’t have my particular background, I’m quite positive this commercial did what it was put out there to do, accepting, as I have, the fact that people in this country are very susceptible to even the most obvious of “buy my stuff!” commercials.

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