There will come a time. It might be in 60 years or maybe just 20 years. But that time will come. Your child/grandchild/great-grandchild will crack open their sixth grade History textbook and flip to the back. America’s Downfall, the chapter heading will read. They’ll thumb through the digitally-enhanced pages as you see familiar topics: fast food, Nickelback, bitter partisanship, Skecher Shape-ups, global warming, Miley Cyrus. Tucked away on the very last page, you’ll find this commercial:
“Hold up, Johnny. That can’t be the video you meant to post,” you say (or you don’t, but let’s pretend like you do). Nope, that’s the right one. And while it might seem fairly innocuous at first blush, let me break it all down for you.
- :02 — “Dad, dad. Katy Perry is coming to town…”
Katy Perry? Well, we could start there. But at risk of offending those who are currently bumping her tunes (like Joanna), I’ll stop here.
- :04 — “Can we get tickets please?”
“You want tickets? Sure thing, sweetie. Just use your own money and buy them.” I don’t anticipate on being too stingy with my kids, but unless it’s a birthday or Christmas or an awesome report card, I don’t know that a $50+ spontaneous splurge will happen often — or ever. That’s what chores and jobs are for.
- :05 — “Tickets… Sure, how many?”
Sure?! How many?!!! Who are you, dude? And where is your freaking budget?!
- :08 — “Well, there’s Hannah and Maddie and Jen and Sarah M., Sarah B…”
Alright, so you have a bunch of friends. Surely their budget-less parents will pay for their ticket, right? Why would I pay for their tickets? At least she didn’t list any boys. Our girl isn’t going to speak to a boy until she’s 25.
- :11 — “Woah, woah, hold on… We can’t forget about your older sister.”
Dad. You’re not cool. You’ll never be cool until she’s out of her teen years. So don’t pretend like +1’ing her older sis is changing that. The only thing it’s changing is your ability to pay your bills and stay out of debt.
- :18 — “I get two times the Thank You Points on each ticket.”
Ohhhh, so that’s why you’re cool with spending at least $500. Because you’ll get 2x the reward points? Awesome! You’ll have to make sure you don’t spend all those reward points at once! On, say, a $25 gift card to Olive Garden. Or a reusable water bottle. But don’t worry about all that extra debt you just put on your credit card. It will totally be worth that Cuisinart cheese slicer.
- :21 — “Can I come?” “Yeah.”
Man card. Hand it over. Both of you.
- :27 — “Now earn two times the points on entertainment and dining out, with no annual fee.”
No annual fee… unless of course you use your card like this dude, in which case your fee will be never ending debt and despair.
Having an advertising background, I know that this commercial went through a few rounds of focus group testing. And the fact that the spot is on the air (and frequently) means that it was pretty effective. Lucky for most of us, we see right through their tactics. But there are 850 million reasons (dollar reasons) that make me worried about ads like these.
Given yesterday’s topic about using credit cards for rewards, I felt this was a timely reminder to treat credit cards like debit cards — spend only what you have. Even if it means saying no to your daughter’s pleading request for 10 concert tickets.