Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas, the Season for Commercials

Elections are over, Thanksgiving has passed, and now we are in the midst of the last few weeks before Christmas. Last month was the season of political advertisements; this month is the season of Christmas advertisements.

Last month’s ads and this month’s ads, on first look, seem to be quite dissimilar; however, they are very similar. All of them are written by high-priced advertising executives who want to sell advertisements.  They sell these commercials to business executives who want to sell a product to consumers. In the case of politicians, they are the product and citizens’ votes are currency.

When you put all of these elements together, commercials can become absurd. This is not to be confused with the product itself being absurd. Take the chia pet for instance. This is basically a lawn, growing out of a lump of clay. Some ingenious entrepreneur thought to himself, “If I make a lump of clay into the shape of a cow, or frog, or some ex-president, and grow a lawn on it, people will buy it. I will become rich!” As ridiculous as this sounds, it worked.

What I am referring to is the advertisements that are, themselves, absurd. One of my all time favorites, and I have written about this before, is the ambulance chasing attorney who barks from my television screen, “If you have died from taking this drug, you may be entitled to a large cash settlement. Call NOW!” That is awesome, dead people urning large cash settlements.

Another one of my favorites is Time-Warner cable peddling their internet service. The commercial touted the connection speed compared to their competitors. They described their glorious customer service. Then, at the end of the commercial, as the deal-making detail, they announced that they were including free self-installation. Yes folks, Time-Warner is not going to charge you to hook up their equipment for them. Is that not the pinnacle of awesomeness?

Eldest and I were exposed to one of these commercial absurdities the other day while listening to Christmas music on the radio. During a commercial break, we heard an ad for the Greater Rochester International Airport. The announcer gushed on about coming to the Airport where you could, “park, shop, dine, and fly.”

Flying I understand. It is, after all, an airport. Planes are coming and going at all hours of the day and night. If you want to fly, I recommend doing so from an airport. The other three things, not so much. It makes sense to have a parking lot around an airport, since people drive to get there. In fact airports take advantage of peoples need to park and charge high prices to be able to do that. Parking is not a selling point of visiting an airport. There are many local parks, where you can park, and get a beautiful view too. You just cant catch a flight from any of those parks.

Now, let me point out that to get to shopping and dining areas, you have to go through the TSA checkpoint. This, alone, is a major deterrent to any misplaced desire to shop or dine at the airport.

Usually, shops in airports know they have captive audiences and charge higher prices than you would find at your local Wal-Mart. But, you can’t catch a flight from your local Wal-Mart either.

Dining does not seem to be a major activity of interest for airports either. I have seen a few restaurants with fancy names at airports, but upon closer inspection, nothing on their menus seemed worthy of paying for parking and braving a TSA checkpoint, when you can find food just as good at Chik-fil-A. Although, you cant catch a flight from Chik-fil-A.

But, it is Holiday time and ad executives are trying to sell ads, to businesses who want to sell products. So go ahead if you want, “park, shop, dine, and fly” at the local airport. Just don’t expect me to join you.