Reading between the lines
Work is still abject madness, and I've chosen this time to go on a week's vacation to Vancouver starting Wednesday, so I expect this will be the only post of the week, but I couldn't go away knowing that I'd left you hanging for over two weeks (I'm so arrogant), so let's get to this.
I would just like to go on record as saying that I do not usually watch the gameshow network. I was at a friend's this weekend, cruising through the channels, and since he had recently signed up with Rogers Digital Cable, he still had the free trial of all the stations that you would probably never watch unless you were somebody's grandmother or unemployed.
It's something I know intellectually, but it always amazes me how different the commercials are on stations that I don't watch. Advertisers know I don't watch these channels, and as a result, don't aim messages at me. It's there that you can get away with the really underhanded stuff, because (and this is a total generalization) people watching these channels aren't necessarily thinking as critically as someone watching, say, the CBC. I'm thinking I might just get the gameshow network so I can watch the commercials.
Anyway, the one that really stood out for me was probably the most complex weasel of a commercial I've ever seen. It got me - for about a second, and then I thought about it.
It was for Allstate Insurance - a friendly black man (very important!) stood by some kind of natural disaster and talked about how they give teddy bears to children who have lost all of their toys in floods, and how to them, it's so much more than just a teddy bear. He explained that this sort of natural disaster can happen to anyone, and that Allstate is there to help.
It ended with "If you have been affected by Hurricane Katrina, please call us so we can help you process your claim."
Now, how's that for an insurance agency? They can't contact you, so they want you to contact them, so that they can make sure that you get your claim processed and you can get back on your feet. Would YOUR insurance agency do that? Probably not.
Now, before you pick up your phone and transfer all of your policies, think about this:
- Hurricanes are "acts of God," and usually wouldn't be covered by most insurance policies.
- Nobody who has had all of their belongings destroyed in the flood is watching the gameshow network right now.
So who is this ad aimed at?
This ad is aimed at the people watching the gameshow network, who are uninsured or underinsured. The ad is proving to these people that they are a company who can be trusted, and who will go out of their way to get your money to you... even if they have to take out advertising space to do it.
In reality, that may or may not be the case... but the target audience for this ad isn't what they lead you to believe it is.
Advertising can be underhanded sometimes, can't it?