12 Mar

Commercial Frugality


The woman walks past the jewelry store and notices the gorgeous pair of earrings in the window display.

The hook.

Sure the customer may not buy those pair of earrings... who knows, maybe they will. The point is that they want you to enter their store in hopes you'll find something that you WILL like. After all, it's hard to even get people to enter the store, with all the pressure from salespeople, or the knowledge that things will be too expensive. Why even bother. You need the hook.

You're at an amusement park with your date. You pass by the games of chance with predefined ignorance when suddenly you hear "10 rings for $1."

You look.

And at that moment, in what seems like pure timing perfection, the employee gives that little nod of his head, holds out 10 rings and says "You've got this... make the lady happy."

Then when you glance her way, she's got that little well-now-you've-got-to-do-it-show-me-you-got-it-and-that-you-love-me obligatory smile on her face.

The employee just hooked you.

You just went from not giving the employee the time of day to being at least partially, if not fully, engaged in the game.

So what's my point in all this?

You've probably figured it out. It's all about the hook. Maybe it's a product just isn't that exciting to discuss -- life insurance, mattresses, or books. Maybe it's a product where the market is so floode...

BLENDERS! I was watching the March Madness Selection Show, and between commercials I was flipping between channels. I saw infomercials for blenders (the one with Montel Williams), juicers, another blender of compact size, and the magic bullet (an even more compact blender). How am I to choose a blender? Oh yeah, The Hook. The super-fast-talking, excited guy and the lady sidekick who plays the color commentator, performing in front of what seems like endless people, but is really just the camera panning over the same people over and over again, trying to explain to me what this blender does that all other blenders don't do and that I'm a fascist if I don't get it.

And so I saw a commercial. A minute or so in duration. It was that damn SunSetter Awning commercial. The one they've been playing since 19...War II. The one with the guy in the too-tight 80's style polo shirt drinking the tall glass of tea with a lemon.

And as I sat there laughing at the fact that they haven't updated this cheesy commercial in forever, I heard it. That famous line where you can receive the $200 certificate. And then the line about the net cost of the awning after the certificate is applied. It went something like this:

"...means you can get your SunSetter awning for less than $499."

Wait, did I hear that right? It sounded a bit funny. Either I need to get my hearing checked, or that guy's voice just got about 1-2 octaves lower. A la the voicemail where it goes "I'm sorry (deep voice) John Doe (/deep voice) is not available."

Ok, so first off, the old commercial used to have a price tag of "... for less than $398." But I understand inflation. I get that the price can't stay the same during the 700 years you've been playing that commercial. But I also understand cheesiness when I see it. Your hook is being held hostage by your frugality. You had to do a voice-over to an outdated commercial. Don't think it's outdated? DURING THE FIRST COUPLE SECONDS OF THE COMMERCIAL, THE GUY FIXES HIS POLO BECAUSE IT'S TOO SNUG.

So you cheapened your Hook. Amazing. Heaven knows it would be too much to ask to reshoot the commercial -- you know, because you would have actually had to hire two no-namers and reprint the $200 Certificate prop and all. Hell, you can still use your footage of the old lady smiling during all 60-seconds that it takes to open the awning. So really, you only have to retape... oh, about 30-60 seconds of the whole commercial. Edit in the rest.

But no, let's just dub in the new price over the old one. With a voice that sounds NOTHING like the original. Yeah, that'll get me "in the store."

I'm sure they'll say they would rather avoid those [retaping] expenses and keep the awnings low. Yeah, d'ok!!!

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01 Mar

To plow or not to plow, that is the question


Yup, I got stuck just outside my driveway. Thankfully I got free in relatively short order.

As most of the locals know, we got a ton of rain, which then started to fall as ice, which then started to fall as snow. In the end, we had a fairly thick layer of ice sitting on top of the roads, followed by about 5-6" of snow. All this fell by about 4am.

So when some of my neighbors headed off to work, they got stuck. Stuck because their front-wheel-drive vehicles didn't have enough to overcome the slick road AND push through the nearly half foot of resistance.

Where were you, City of Ramsey plows? I know where Anoka County was.

A little background on how the plowing works up here. During a "snow event," there are two types of plows that clean the streets. One is a smaller plow which does the side streets, so that the residents have a path on which to drive. Then big-guns comes by to clear everything off the road (and lay down salt if necessary). The plows generally wait until after the snow is done falling before plowing (budget reasons).

But let's take a trip back in time. Allllll the way back to.... well, just this winter season. The plows have been out a whopping two times. Yes, two.......... in Minnesota........... surreal. It's been a quiet year to say the least. And now we're in March. Winter season is almost over.

There must be a bleep-load of money left in the budget for plowing. Combined with the terrorism that the meteorologists were projecting, would it really have been too much to think the following:

Gee, roads are going to be glazed, then snow covered. It's possible we could get 10 inches of snow, AND it's going to be a wet snow. We've got enough money in the budget to choke a camel, and we're almost done with winter anyway. Perhaps we can plow slightly earlier than the end of the snowfall, and if we happen to get a few more inches, oh well. Big guns will get it. And if we get significantly more (upper end of projections), then maybe we do a 2nd round of plowing.

I mean, everyone seems to complain about plowing at one time or another, but really, would it really have killed you to start the plowing a little earlier than normal for the sake of everyone's sanity?

And because of a lack of local plowing, there was a mound of snow to get through at the major highway (going slightly uphill, naturally) That was a real treat too. Thankfully I didn't get stuck, but you can't get any momentum going from 0mph (waiting for the traffic light to turn green OR waiting for a break in traffic, which never happens) and having to bash through a mound of snow on top of a slick road.

City of Ramsey plow grade: D-

(it would have been an F if we had received 12-18 inches of snow, as originally forecast, and there was no pre-plowing done)

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