Everything Wrong in Our World in 30 Seconds

It's the End of the World

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.

Play-By-Play Analysis

  • :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.

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  • Reply Michelle October 10, 2013 at 8:23 am

    When I saw this commercial, I started laughing. I hope people don’t fall for that!

  • Reply K.Nicole October 10, 2013 at 8:39 am

    I saw this commercial and thought it was ridiculous for two reasons, what parent is paying for everyone else’s kids to see a concert (do you know how much concert tickets are now, esp. to a mega-pop artist like KP????) and secondly, so you’re spending all that money for DOUBLE POINTS? Couldn’t you just buy whatever you would use those double points for with actual money you save by NOT CHARGING CONCERT TICKETS for the whole neighborhood? But if common sense were common, well you know the rest…

  • Reply Mrs PoP October 10, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Ha. There are so many commercials like this! Think mastercard’s entire “priceless” ad campaign. Yes, everything you’re putting on that card has a price and if you don’t pay it off immediately, go ahead and tack 19% interest into the cost. =P

  • Reply Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial October 10, 2013 at 10:30 am

    This cracked me up, because my husband had the exact same reaction when he first saw this! He was like, “do people really spend all this money they don’t have on crap they don’t need so they can get ‘points,’ instead of just keeping their money?!” He was so outraged my the amount of stupid in the commercial, I think. I’ll have to tell him he’s not the only one who had these kinds of thoughts when he saw it!

  • Reply EcoCatLady October 10, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Ha! So here’s what I want to know. If all these commercials go through so much testing before they’re released, how on earth did this one for Yakult get out there: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9Tp3Sgiab8

    Maybe it’s just me, but every time it comes on TV I do a double take, because I can swear they’re saying: “The Occult… it’s inside!”

    • Reply Johnny October 14, 2013 at 1:15 am

      Hahaha. I definitely hear “the Occult.” I’d never seen that one, but that one probably got out without testing. Generally, smaller companies don’t have the money for testing like the behemoth corps — like Citi.

  • Reply J.Mill October 10, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    My Mr. made fun of me for liking Katy Perry too, but now he’s secretly digging her new music (not so secretly anymore, ha!).

    And maybe the dad was buying all the tickets and getting reimbursed by the other parents….

    (Aaaand the long shot hits a sand trap.)

    • Reply Johnny October 14, 2013 at 1:18 am

      So after hearing the commercial’s hook enough times, I finally gave in and listened to the full “Roar” song… and it’s catchy. Not catchy enough for a spot on my Spotify library, but catchy enough that I won’t protest Joanna playing it. Hopefully my man card remains safe.

  • Reply Rob October 10, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Oh well, dude, so I guess the pony purchase isn’t going on the credit card any time soon, eh? (evil grin)

    • Reply Johnny October 14, 2013 at 1:20 am

      But they’re offering DOUBLE POINTS on all Equine category purchases!

  • Reply E.M. October 10, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    The first time I saw this commercial I was left shaking my head. Well, I still do whenever I see it. I can’t believe anyone would want to just buy a ton of tickets for random people because they get thank you points. The guy in the commercial seemed so smug about it, too.

    • Reply Johnny October 14, 2013 at 1:21 am

      Good point. His smugness is probably the most obnoxious part of the whole spot.

  • Reply Chris October 11, 2013 at 11:00 am

    I saw this commerial last friday night, and I couldn’t help but think who the people are that are being targeted for this advertising. I mean, I see right through these commercials but it might be because I’m wide awake to this sort of trickery. Those people that are hot n cold with budgeting must be easily taken in by these “life is better in debt” sort of messages. I guess budgeting is just a part of me and…roar. Ah dang. I tried. I couldn’t think of a relevant sentence that included “I kissed a girl” or “firework”.

    Seriously though, ALL of the credit card reward commercials have this message. I saw another one recently where two women were talking and one said “oh he’s just using you for his reward points…blah blah card gets double points on dining out” and then the other woman says disgusted, “what kind of person would do such a thing?!” then the check comes and the first lady grabs it and says “I got it!” while looking guilty. But really WHO WOULD DO THAT!?

    As a professional, do you have that mindset that whoever you’re marketing to is sort of…not all there? It blows my mind…like a firework! BOOM NAILED IT!

    • Reply Johnny October 14, 2013 at 1:29 am

      +50 points for seamless use of songs in a comment. -40 points for knowing so many Katy Perry songs. But you end up with a net positive, so that’s good.

      We always have to assume we’re marketing to the lowest common denominator. And if we don’t, the client will make sure we remember that after they slash and tear up our clever ideas.

  • Reply MomofTwoPreciousGirls October 11, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    We shall see what happens when your baby girl is batting her eyelashes at you….saying “I love you” because shy totally knows it will suck you in EVERY TIME!!!! And it’s awesome!

    Onto the Katy Perry thing…she is not MY favorite performer but my 5 and 4 yo girls know firework by heart and THEY do it very well! You will be surprised at what music calms and inspires little minds!

    • Reply Johnny October 14, 2013 at 1:31 am

      I know I’ll be a sucker… I’m just resisting the inevitable while I can.

      Katy Perry would be 10000x better than Daniel Tiger and the other awful songs/shows we have to use for our little one right now.

      • Reply MomofTwoPreciousGirls October 14, 2013 at 6:56 am

        I LOVE Daniel tiger! Come on, it’s based on Mr. Rogers! The show is the only replacement that his widow thought was worthy to produce. The songs actually come in handy with my older ones…I have to sing “grown ups come back” whenever hubby and I leave them with a sitter. The one we hear most in the house is “you can take a turn and then I’ll get it back”! It gets my girls to share every single day!

        When compared to some of the other trash on tv, I’m trying to stick to just PBS or Disney junior for as long as the kids are willing. They watch some science shows on another channel but it is JAMMED with commercials. It was one thing when they were saying they wanted dream lites and stompeez…but when they were telling me what color they wanted their “No-No” (laser hair removal system) to come in, we stopped watching!!!

  • Reply Kaycee Fisher October 13, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    In the real world, Dad would be buying the tickets for HIS 2 girls as a birthday and/or Christmas gift. Dad would also be FULLY reimbursed by the other people he was buying the tickets for. It IS possible to reap the rewards credit card companies offer without going into debt. You just have to know how to work it right. It’s not quite as black and white as most seem to think.

    • Reply Johnny October 14, 2013 at 1:36 am

      Exxxactly. I’m totally cool with putting things on my card if I’m getting reimbursed. But a splurge on a whole bunch of concert tickets? Ain’t happening.

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