Monday, October 18, 2004

Verizon Family Values

From the "I don't get why this ad is supposed to make me want to buy your product" department, I bring you the latest ad for Verizon wireless plans. As you're probably aware, Verizon offers a program called "in", which means you can talk free to other people who are also "in" the Verizon network without using any of your plan minutes. Okay, so the commercial in question goes like this (I'm doing this from memory, so these aren't exact quotes):

Father (to approx. middle-school aged kids): Guess what, kids! I got us all cell phones from Verizon's family plan! No we can talk to each other all we want!

(Kids stare blankly).

Mother: It's also got "in," so you can talk to your friends all you want, too!

Kids: Yay!

Father: Yay! Family hug. (Kids grab the phones and run off, all happy-like. Obviously, hugging is not in the cards.)

Father: (pretty much looking out at the cloud of dust left behind by the kids) Uh, well, okay. Uh, call me!

Okay, two things about this commercial that are just weird.

First, what's the difference between a "family plan" and "in"? Isn't the former just a subset of the latter? If everyone who's "in" can just talk to everyone else who's "in," and all your family members are, by definition, also "in," doesn't that render the whole concept of "family plan" redundant? "I can talk to my family all I want... oh, and that also applies to everyone else in the country on the Verizon network too."

Second -- and the real reason I wanted to comment on this commercial -- how sad is the premise? How dysfunctional must this family be, and why then would you want to get a Verizon plan if that's the kind of family that gets them? The kids can't even muster up the energy to feign emotion when Daddy announces the acquisition of phones. "Ooo, we get to talk to Daddy. Woo hoo." But when Mommy puts it in proper context -- "and all your friends, too!" -- suddenly they're all excited. That's just rude and disrespectful.

And then to top it off, the kids don't even thank anyone for the phones. They just run off like greedy little rat bastards, screaming "me me me" and taking what they get and not even acknowledging that they possibly didn't do jack shit to deserve a cell phone.

Finally, the commercial ends with the poor dad, having been royally dissed now, reduced to a pathetic charicature of a man, saying, "Call me." I mean, that's just pitiful. The kids weren't that enthusiastic about talking to you on the phone in the first place, dude. Then they dissed your idea for a frigging hug. Apparently the only way you're ever going to exchange two words with those bratty little kids of yours is if you go over to where one of their friends live and call them from that phone, because that's the only time they'll get excited when the phone rings. They sure won't get excited when the call is from you.


Oh yeah, that there's that other commerical. I think it's also from Verizon. Parents dropping off their kids at college, and the father says, "Don't forget to call." "Sure," says prodigal son, "I got your number right here, Dad." (He starts scrolling through all the names in his cell phone's memory, and the parents just stand there, and it soon becomes obvious that the home phone number isn't in there. In fact, (I guess for humorous effect), the kid stops once or twice, as if to say, "Aha! There's the number!", only to find that it's not. He even mutters once, "Oh yeah, gotta call her back...."

Why do you have to have your parents' number stored in your cell phone? Do you not know it from regular memory? If we presume that this kid is a freshman and that he lived with his parents up until he started school, why are you unable to just say, "Sure Dad. I know the number."? Why must you search for it?

The saddest part is -- I actually have a Verizon cell phone. But in my defense, I got it before these commercials came out.

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