One of my pet peeves (Well, not really. They’re more funny than irritating.) are commercials that make fun of the customer. You would think this would never happen—what company would ever make fun of their own customers? Many, it turns out.
I’m not talking about the typical car commercial showing the dealership crowded with customers running from car to car, so enthusiastic they look deranged. Sure, in your dreams, Chevy Dealer! Or the commercials we’ll soon be seeing again where a man, or a women, surprises their spouse with a new car in the driveway with a huge bow on the top. Or, the Burberry magazine ads that show sullen, high-fashion teenagers glaring at the camera whose taste we are expected to envy. That’s unintentional ridicule. I’m talking intentional.
A recent example, about as bad as it gets, shows a sharply dressed businesswoman standing in a department store fitting room trying on clothes. She is on her cell phone with her boss (also female) telling her she is feeling sickly and just can’t make it into work today. Her boss says she understands and not to worry because she rescheduled the big meeting for next week anyway. The camera pulls back to show the boss on her cell phone in the adjoining dressing area. The voice-over says no one should miss the big one-day sale.
Is this what they think of their customers? Lying, irresponsible cheats? Maybe they are shoplifters, too.
Another recent example is a Fed-Ex commercial that opens with a fat guy sitting in an almost empty office. The phone rings and he yells into it, “Can’t talk now!” and slams it down. He then yells to no one in particular how busy he is. “Busy, busy!” The camera pans back to show two co-workers explaining that since they started using Fed-Ex, the fat guy is having trouble adjusting to having nothing to do.
Hello? This is their customer? A company with such poor management they can’t reassign duties? A company of misfits? They even have a worse version where a young guy is standing in front of his supervisors. They ask him to put a pin in a map to show their China branch. He fumbles around until his boss says, “You don’t even know where China is, do you?” whereupon he gets so unhinged, he falls on the floor, ripping down the map. That’s a company of psychopaths.
I was first aware of this trend years ago with Burger King whose slogan was, “Have it your way.” Their commercial showed a wimpy father (a common TV source of ridicule) with his small children ordering a Whopper. “Could . . . could . . . I have it without the mayonnaise?” he stammers. He flinches anticipating the answer, but sighs in relief as the perky blond teenaged clerk, or whatever they’re called, nothing like the dimwits I see in my Burger King, actually laughs at him as she replies, “Certainly, Sir! You can have it your way!”
I would have said, “Damn right, Girlie. I’m paying for it, and raising a family, too, which is a lot more than you’ll ever be able to do, judging from your job.”
I love getting old and cranky.