Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Selling Stuff with Sentimentality

 

My wife was watching a “Dancing With the Stars” type of show the other night. The commercials were all targeted toward their specific demographic: Cleaning products, seltzer beers (whatever the heck those are), SUV’s, etc. She left, I switched to a football game, and the ads changed as well: regular beers, investment services, pickup trucks, etc. They spend a lot of money on those ads, and they want to be sure they are putting the right message in front of the right eyeballs, to get the right message across.

Christmas advertising is fascinating. Lots of big families gathered around a roaring fireplace wearing cozy sweaters, laughing together as they serve apple pie to everyone. It’s a shameless pitch to our heartstrings, but it works. On me, at least. I’m more fascinated by the fact that they consider me to be in their demographic than I am by their ad itself. How did my eyeballs get selected to see this ad? And then, yesterday, I was even more fascinated when we got the brochure below in the mail.

On the back of what looks like a Christmas card, is a coupon for Shutterfly (a company that makes personalized greeting cards, etc.). So they’re using that example to get us in the Christmas mood, and inspire us to order personalized Christmas cards to mail to our friends and relatives. Using a sentimental image to tug on our holiday heartstrings. The text below the image says, “Happy Holidays – The Klein-Harper Family – Jesse & Olivia.” So the card has candy-cane style stripes on it. And it has the word “family” on it. So there you go. Sentimental Christmas image. Right?

I live in Hilton Head. There are very few 25-year-old tattooed black lesbians here. But this is the image they chose. The image that they very carefully chose.

I’m sure it will sell. I presume that an enormous corporation’s spending enormous amounts of its own money will have done their research, and they know this will work.

But again, I find all this to be fascinating.

Hilton Head is very wealthy, very old, and very white. I wonder which Christmas card examples they mail to people in black neighborhoods? Poor white neighborhoods? Urban? Rural? East coast? West Coast? Midwest?

And I find it fascinating that this works on my neighbors. Why? Is it more financially rewarding for this corporation to appeal to our sense of social virtue rather than our sentimental heartstrings? Is Christmas just another controversial symbol of America’s racist traditions, best avoided in polite conversation? See, if you pretend to get the warm fuzzies from pictures of tattooed black lesbians embracing, then we’ll allow you to enjoy Christmas with less guilt – won’t that be nice? Now, just buy our cards. Virtue signaling included!

I don’t know. I really don’t. All that could be wrong.

Maybe the company doesn’t care if their advertising works, but they care a great deal about promoting themselves as appropriately left wing. But why? To me, the only reason to spend money on advertising is to make more money in sales. Why else are they doing this?

I don’t know. I really don’t.

But marketing really is fascinating.

These people are not stupid. And they have no interest in throwing their money out the window. The image of us that they present to us is probably more accurate than our own self-image.

Eh. I thought this was an interesting topic to write about. But I’d rather not think about this anymore.

I’m going to go watch some football. Maybe have a beer.

A regular beer. Not a seltzer beer. Whatever the heck that is. What on earth is this world coming to?

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  1. Juliana Member

    If I based my knowledge on tv ads, I would assume that blacks make up at least 50%, if not more, of the population. They are all wealthy, and have intact families. White families all have some black relative, whether it be multi-racial parents, a black grandchild of elder whites, etc. No one would think that Hispanics are the largest minority in the US. I don’t know if this is directed to the guilt-ridden Great White North where I live, or if it is nationwide. And maybe ads never really were meant to portray reality. It has become somewhat of a joke. There are many tv ads where, after watching, you say, this is supposed to get me to buy your product?!?

    • #1
    • October 16, 2020, at 12:51 PM PDT
    • 19 likes
  2. Nohaaj Coolidge

    The Jessie in this ad could very well be a real guy… Olivia is darn cute. Jessie’s arm, hand and hairline looks much more masculine. Is there something else on this card that makes you think they are a lesbian couple? 

    • #2
    • October 16, 2020, at 12:54 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  3. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat

    Nohaaj (View Comment):

    The Jessie in this ad could very well be a real guy… Olivia is darn cute. Jessie’s arm, hand and hairline looks much more masculine. Is there something else on this card that makes you think they are a lesbian couple?

    I guess I could be wrong. But I think I’m right.

    Perhaps they made it vague enough to protect them from criticism?

    • #3
    • October 16, 2020, at 12:56 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  4. Nohaaj Coolidge

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
    Perhaps they made it vague enough to protect them from criticism?

    Or they made it vague enough, so that everyone can project their own perceptions onto the image. It reminds me that when Obama first ran for president that was the marketing strategy. 

     

    • #4
    • October 16, 2020, at 1:00 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  5. Tocqueville Coolidge

    I agree with everything and have noticed the same. Seems like there’s a version of this being inflicted on everyone. 
    However, I don’t think this is clever marketing. I don’t think it makes money for the companies (“go woke, go broke”). It’s more twisted than that: it’s what happens when the Lords of the Flies feared on college campuses graduate from college and get jobs, in marketing and advertising. 

    • #5
    • October 16, 2020, at 1:26 PM PDT
    • 12 likes
  6. Stad Thatcher

    Dr. Bastiat:

    I’m going to go watch some football. Maybe have a beer. 

    A regular beer. Not a seltzer beer. Whatever the heck that is. What on earth is this world coming to?

    I’m such a beer purist, I don’t even want a slice of lime in my Mexican beer . . . but seltzer? Sheesh . . .

    • #6
    • October 16, 2020, at 1:29 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  7. Tocqueville Coolidge

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Nohaaj (View Comment):

    The Jessie in this ad could very well be a real guy… Olivia is darn cute. Jessie’s arm, hand and hairline looks much more masculine. Is there something else on this card that makes you think they are a lesbian couple?

    I guess I could be wrong. But I think I’m right.

    Perhaps they made it vague enough to protect them from criticism?

    No it’s a woman. It’s clearly two women, and they are forcing you by gun point to THINK IT’S CUTE. SAY IT’S GREAT.

    The American Cathedral in Paris is the equivalent in churches. Literally 60 % of the congregation is gay. I think they must pay them to come as part of some image thing.

    • #7
    • October 16, 2020, at 1:37 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  8. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat

    Tocqueville (View Comment):
    The American Cathedral in Paris is the equivalent in churches. Literally 60 % of the congregation is gay.

    I didn’t know that. Wow.

    • #8
    • October 16, 2020, at 1:40 PM PDT
    • Like
  9. MarciN Member

    A few years ago I had a similar reaction to Disney World. I had a wonderful time with my kids, but I was really shocked at the “woke” and “global warming” and secular themes in the attractions. I was surrounded by strong families everywhere I looked, and all I saw was pretty traditional ideas and priorities. The week I was there, I asked myself at least a hundred times, “Whom are they talking to?”

    I think there is a combination of forces in play. (1) They are actively trying to shape society and culture. (2) They are avoiding the criticism they believe is lying in wait for them to make a mistake. And (3) the arts skew radically left, and they always have.

    I am reassured that the country hasn’t changed all that much underneath its present costume. I say that because during this pandemic ordeal, the people who make the country run have kept going, every single day. The strength to persevere in difficult times comes from values other than the ones the left is promoting.

    • #9
    • October 16, 2020, at 2:00 PM PDT
    • 12 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  10. Ekosj Member

    This is them telling you that they don’t care about those to whom the image does not appeal. They have decided that the demographics that are the growth areas of their market will either identify with the image or will think favourably of Shutterfly’s obvious wokeishness. If you aren’t enamoured of the marketing, they don’t care. You are no longer a factor in their calculus. Ditto for the NBA, NFL, Nike, Gillette, Ben and Jerry’s etc.

    • #10
    • October 16, 2020, at 2:18 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  11. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    Women are the target for the cards. Any male opinion is the irrelevant. 

    I got a Christmas catalog from Amazon.com yesterday. I guess they have fully replaced Sears now.

    • #11
    • October 16, 2020, at 2:48 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  12. cdor Member
    cdor Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Hey Doc, I think they just got the wrong zip code…Occams Razor. But nice post. I loved it when you switched from star dancing to football the second your wife left the room. That’s why we have his and her TV’s. My wife says there are no balls allowed on her TV. My TV is in a room that has that magnificent slight scent of cigar. It warms my heart every time I enter.

    • #12
    • October 16, 2020, at 3:03 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  13. Midwest Southerner Member

    As a marketing strategist who is often the lead on creative productions of all kinds, I used to find most commercials pretty interesting and looked at them sort of as mini case studies and sources of creative inspiration. Even more so when they’re holiday or super bowl themed. (Okay, the commercials are usually why I watch the super bowl in the first place, unless the Cowboys are playing, then it’s about 50/50.)

    One of the things I tell clients ad nauseam is this: Consider your audience, and make sure your message is on point for that audience.

    Most who take that advice to heart are businesses that have a real stake in and are part of the community/audience they’re trying to reach. Until recently, I would say that 80% of our clients were very intentional with their messaging and branding, making sure it resonated with the intended audience. However, I have seen a shift in the last few years where even the community-focused businesses we work with are more focused on exhibiting that “sense of social virtue” and checking off all the boxes.

    Is the commercial/ad/brochure, etc. appropriately diverse?

    Did we remove any overt or even mere suggestion of a religious holiday?

    Have we built in the right level of social awareness and pressure?

    Earlier I said that I used to find commercials interesting.That’s because lately I’ve found myself fast forwarding or muting the commercials. They’re just not as creative as they used to be. And, quite frankly, they’re all just trying to out-do each other on their level of wokeness.

    The big a-ha for me has been the Covid-themed commercials that have been produced this year. Advertisers are selling us acceptance of what our Covid responses are doing to this country and the world. See for yourself:

    May 20, 2020: The 8 Best Ads From the Coronavirus Lockdown, So Far

    May 28, 2020: How Marketers Responded to the Coronavirus in the First Three Months

    COVID-19 Minded TV Ads

    From Ads of the World: COVID-19 Ads

    This compilation film by YouTuber Sean Haney puts all the COVID-19 cliches into one big supercut:

    • #13
    • October 16, 2020, at 3:27 PM PDT
    • 16 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  14. Hoyacon Member

    I can’t wait for the advertising on the new, woke generation of Hallmark Christmas flicks.

    Don’t trust anything with a 2020 date. That handsome guy whose car breaks down at Christmas time in the picturesque small town with the lonely woman who runs the diner just underwent gender reassignment surgery.

    • #14
    • October 16, 2020, at 3:46 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  15. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    National ads are produced in big cities dominated by Democrats, often for corporations based in big cities dominated by Democrats. They live in intolerant bubbles and are discouraged from including people of traditional values.

    Most major corporations these days think conservatives can be ignored. They are right. Contrary to inane slogans, companies generally can go woke without going broke. 

    • #15
    • October 16, 2020, at 4:19 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  16. Cow Girl Thatcher

    Nohaaj (View Comment):

    The Jessie in this ad could very well be a real guy… Olivia is darn cute. Jessie’s arm, hand and hairline looks much more masculine. Is there something else on this card that makes you think they are a lesbian couple?

    The male spelling of that name is Jesse–like on the card, right? I have a daughter named Jessie…the female version of that name. So, I don’t get the assumption that they are lesbian. I, too, think that the Jesse is male and not necessarily a photo of a lesbian couple. 

    • #16
    • October 16, 2020, at 4:22 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):

    Women are the target for the cards. Any male opinion is the irrelevant.

    I got a Christmas catalog from Amazon.com yesterday. I guess they have fully replaced Sears now.

    I was wondering how they were going to handle that for youngsters. You can’t really count on dog-earring a web page to clue your parents in as to what has caught your eye.

    • #17
    • October 16, 2020, at 4:33 PM PDT
    • 1 like
    • This comment has been edited.
  18. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    Shutterfly is still there? I have an account that I have not used in many years.

    @midwestsoutherner, you should expand your comment into its own post. I am the daughter of a guy who owned a “printing and mail marketing” company, so I notice stuff.

    • #18
    • October 16, 2020, at 4:57 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. Al French of Damascus Moderator

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Cow Girl (View Comment):

    Nohaaj (View Comment):

    The Jessie in this ad could very well be a real guy… Olivia is darn cute. Jessie’s arm, hand and hairline looks much more masculine. Is there something else on this card that makes you think they are a lesbian couple?

    The male spelling of that name is Jesse–like on the card, right? I have a daughter named Jessie…the female version of that name. So, I don’t get the assumption that they are lesbian. I, too, think that the Jesse is male and not necessarily a photo of a lesbian couple.

    Like my middle name. And David’s father.

    • #19
    • October 16, 2020, at 6:32 PM PDT
    • Like
    • This comment has been edited.
  20. Flicker Coolidge

    Ah! You watch football. Isn’t that exactly the black tattooed lesbian demographic?

    • #20
    • October 16, 2020, at 6:47 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  21. Tocqueville Coolidge

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Tocqueville (View Comment):
    The American Cathedral in Paris is the equivalent in churches. Literally 60 % of the congregation is gay.

    I didn’t know that. Wow.

    I really started noticing 2 yrs ago (this past year we had Covid). In May we talk about LGBT month in June. They mention it in the sermon, note it in the programme, on the site etc. Then June of course is the LGBT extravaganza, jam packed with guilt and celebration. Then in July we remember how we just celebrated LGBT in June etc etc

    And guess who spoke for the reopening in September? Pete Buttigeig! Why, you ask? We are working on dropping out and going next door to the French Catholic Church.

    • #21
    • October 17, 2020, at 1:05 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  22. Tocqueville Coolidge

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Tocqueville (View Comment):
    The American Cathedral in Paris is the equivalent in churches. Literally 60 % of the congregation is gay.

    I didn’t know that. Wow.

    When my kids were in the Christmas pageant a few years back, the young woman organizing it did so with wife and non-gendered infant in tow.

    • #22
    • October 17, 2020, at 1:06 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  23. davenr321 Coolidge

    Something is telling the advertisers and the ad-making companies that they’ll make money with these ads. Good for them, go for it.

    Mr. and Mrs Klein-Harper (any relation to Saxe-Coburg?) – that is a man, Jesse, looks like a man, too – ought to be looked upon as a normal, happy American couple, period and ought to be welcomed anywhere in this country, no matter how White it “is.” 

    I’m not putting words in your mind, Dr. Bastiat, but an expectation that advertising like this would be more appropriate for Ebony or Jet just is so much Spiro Agnew.

    • #23
    • October 17, 2020, at 4:21 AM PDT
    • Like
  24. GrannyDude Member

    I was going to say: Notice the difference in the size of the forearms. Major tell. Jesse is a dude.

    We’re getting paranoid…

     

    • #24
    • October 17, 2020, at 5:33 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  25. Front Seat Cat Member

    “These people are not stupid.” Well – I may be one of the stupid ones, but the Jesse in the card clearly looks like a guy from where I’m sitting?

    • #25
    • October 17, 2020, at 5:54 AM PDT
    • Like
  26. Front Seat Cat Member

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    I can’t wait for the advertising on the new, woke generation of Hallmark Christmas flicks.

    Don’t trust anything with a 2020 date. That handsome guy whose car breaks down at Christmas time in the picturesque small town with the lonely woman who runs the diner just underwent gender reassignment surgery.

    I’m waiting for the Muppets Christmas Carol – the song I sang after Trump pulled out a surprise win in 2016…..Wherever you find love….it feels like Christmas!” I’ll be singing it when he wins again!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlRpGj7LWS4

     

    • #26
    • October 17, 2020, at 6:03 AM PDT
    • Like
  27. Stad Thatcher

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):

    Women are the target for the cards. Any male opinion is the irrelevant.

    I got a Christmas catalog from Amazon.com yesterday. I guess they have fully replaced Sears now.

    We did too. I remember when I was little, I looked forward to the Sears Christmas toy catalog. I’d read it for hours . . .

    • #27
    • October 17, 2020, at 6:26 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge

    Midwest Southerner (View Comment):

    As a marketing strategist who is often the lead on creative productions of all kinds, I used to find most commercials pretty interesting and looked at them sort of as mini case studies and sources of creative inspiration. Even more so when they’re holiday or super bowl themed. (Okay, the commercials are usually why I watch the super bowl in the first place, unless the Cowboys are playing, then it’s about 50/50.)

    One of the things I tell clients ad nauseam is this: Consider your audience, and make sure your message is on point for that audience.

    Most who take that advice to heart are businesses that have a real stake in and are part of the community/audience they’re trying to reach. Until recently, I would say that 80% of our clients were very intentional with their messaging and branding, making sure it resonated with the intended audience. However, I have seen a shift in the last few years where even the community-focused businesses we work with are more focused on exhibiting that “sense of social virtue” and checking off all the boxes.

    Is the commercial/ad/brochure, etc. appropriately diverse?

    Did we remove any overt or even mere suggestion of a religious holiday?

    Have we built in the right level of social awareness and pressure?

    Earlier I said that I used to find commercials interesting.That’s because lately I’ve found myself fast forwarding or muting the commercials. They’re just not as creative as they used to be. And, quite frankly, they’re all just trying to out-do each other on their level of wokeness.

    The big a-ha for me has been the Covid-themed commercials that have been produced this year. Advertisers are selling us acceptance of what our Covid responses are doing to this country and the world. See for yourself:

    May 20, 2020: The 8 Best Ads From the Coronavirus Lockdown, So Far

    May 28, 2020: How Marketers Responded to the Coronavirus in the First Three Months

    COVID-19 Minded TV Ads

    From Ads of the World: COVID-19 Ads

    This compilation film by YouTuber Sean Haney puts all the COVID-19 cliches into one big supercut:

    Amazing. They’re almost all exactly the same.

    • #28
    • October 17, 2020, at 6:50 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  29. Ekosj Member

    Midwest Southerner (View Comment):

    One of the things I tell clients ad nauseam is this: Consider your audience, and make sure your message is on point for that audience.

    Most who take that advice to heart are businesses that have a real stake in and are part of the community/audience they’re trying to reach. Until recently, I would say that 80% of our clients were very intentional with their messaging and branding, making sure it resonated with the intended audience. However, I have seen a shift in the last few years where even the community-focused businesses we work with are more focused on exhibiting that “sense of social virtue” and checking off all the boxes.

    Is the commercial/ad/brochure, etc. appropriately diverse?

    Did we remove any overt or even mere suggestion of a religious holiday?

    Have we built in the right level of social awareness and pressure?

    I think that the companies are still taking your advice. They are being very intentional with their messaging and their audience. They have done their analysis and concluded that this kind of “wokish“ messaging targets their intended audience. That audience is young, college educated, “woke”. The companies have made a conscious decision to spend their limited marketing resources on potential customers who are still approaching their peak earning years rather an trying to appeal to an older demographic. If you don’t find the marketing appealing, you are not part of the companies’ growth strategy. They don’t care whether you like it or not.

    • #29
    • October 17, 2020, at 7:00 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  30. Headedwest Coolidge

    Juliana (View Comment):

    If I based my knowledge on tv ads, I would assume that blacks make up at least 50%, if not more, of the population.

    “Jake from State Farm”

    • #30
    • October 17, 2020, at 10:07 AM PDT
    • 2 likes