Retail panhandlers. I’m not a fan of malls in the first place but I can’t stand people hawking stuff to me from their carts. The question “Excuse me, can I ask you a question?” is as annoying for its meta-redundancy as its intrusiveness. Ignoring a little plastic sample cup thrust in front of your chest takes more effort than stopping to find out what product is in the cup. And then there’s the guy who pretends to be a jerk smoking in the middle of the mall – anyone jealous of him is drawn to his cart to learn about the “electronic cigarette” he’s peddling. Maybe this kind of combative selling is the best way to get a product out there since legit outfits are now barred from spamming and cold-calling. And for the malls, turning the open space in the interior into additional space for vendors is the best way to keep cash flow positive. But for me, as a customer, it provides a major disincentive to visit the mall. And considering that the worst offenders at the local mall are in front of the Apple Store, if I were the Apple Store, I’d be asking the mall management to shoo away the hawkers the same way a 7-Eleven shoos away the traditional panhandler.
Frito Lay’s product known as Sun Chips has always been an interesting alternative to the potato chip. Not any more. They recently reformulated the chip and it is now as bland as you could imagine. The texture is smooth and the taste is more similar to cardboard than the original Sun Chip. It’s always sad when a grocery product you come to enjoy is discontinued but it is almost even more sad when the product is dumbed down. I’m looking forward to trying Snyder’s version of Sun Chips.
Okay, I’ll admit I chuckle at the new VW Routan TV spots. Brooke Shields is particularly entertaining and the supporting actors are appropriately confused and bemused. But it does bother me that the whole thrust of the marketing campaign is that people will go to extremes for “German engineering”. I am a fan of German-engineered cars but that would exclude the Routan. You see, the Routan is actually a Chrysler minivan with minor modifications, such as interior finish. Yes, Chrysler was owned by Daimler at the time the Chrysler minivan was designed, but I hardly think that German overlords to Dodge engineers in Detroit counts as “German Engineering”. Nor do I think that VW is trying to say “buy our car since it was designed by an American company while they were toiling for one of our chief competitors”.
Those Coors TV commercials. Voiced by a guy who sounds like he lost his teeth a good 15 years ago, the gist is “never changing is good”. It even includes lines like “set in our ways” and “we refuse to change”. Now a certain amount of tradition can be a good thing. But other things should improve as time goes on – like health and cleanliness, efficiency, taste, etc.. And I’m pretty sure the factory in that Golden Colorado which gets such reverent treatment in Coors commercials is slightly different than it was 100 years ago – hypocrites.
Besides, the notion that we should never change is anti-progress. Sure, it might appeal to those that listen to classic rock stations. But if people in Elvis’s time had never changed, we’d never have gotten Aerosmith and Cream.
In the end, the message empowers those who were on the fence about becoming an old coot to follow through and provides existing old coots with a validation of their ways. Man, beer adverts used to be fun to watch.
Freezing rain. That’s all we seem to get these past few winters. It either rains slush or it snows then turns to rain to make slush and then everything freezes. What happened to nice simple snow storms. Take yesterday, for example: a perfect pure snow storm and a nice change from the pattern of the past few years. But today another storm is coming and this one will turn to rain which means the snow already on the ground is going to turn to slush, then ice. Well, at least there was one storm that didn’t suck to shovel.
Those ridiculous radio adverts for Consolidated Resorts‘s timeshares. The earlier versions of the adverts were annoying and lame including lines like “can you say high roller treatment?” and “right on the strip”. But the more recent versions have Tanya Roberts being fake-interviewed by a local radio personality – one that previously had integrity. It takes up more than a typical radio commercial block and it poses as an interview but the script is pretty much the same lame script as the original. Again, I have to wonder how successful can these radio adverts be? Who are the dupes that are thinking they are going to get a deal? To bribe the local radio personalities into doing these fake interviews, there must be serious money going around. And that’s after Consolidated has paid their 4 C-list celebrities that they have endorsing their company (in addition to Tanya, there’s also Alan Thicke, David Faustino, and George Wallace).
Those radio adverts that tell you about the government selling homes in “your area”. The line that puts them over the top is the one where they say that people with the last names beginning with A through N can start calling right away while the people with last names beginning with O through Z can call “tomorrow starting at 9:00am”. And since the exact same advert runs day after day, they don’t even make a halfway decent attempt to disguise how much of a crock that is. I wonder how many people with a last name in the second half of the alphabet are out there disappointed that their turn never comes up.
Radio adverts that use a cell phone ring as a visual cue. There was one for the Dolph de Roos real estate scam earlier this year and now the current one is for the John Commuta “transform your debt into wealth” scam. Apparently the thinking is that the people that are dumb enough to be tricked into calling because they hear a cell phone ring are exactly the right type of people to be lured into these scams. (“Somebody’s cell phone is ringing; where’s my cell?; there it is; should I call someone?; there’s a helpful voice on the radio offering a number; I might as well dial that number”)
People that pronounce the word “piano” as though there were a “y” after the “p”. Apparently these people believe that the word is “YEE-ah-no” with an annoying little nearly-silent “p” at the beginning.