Watching TV and saw the Verizon FIOS guy doing his shtick — he reaches into the old mail box, pulls out a letter and talks about how no one will need to go to the video rental store any more. “And let’s have a moment of silence for the poor video rental store…” Silence. “Ok, that’s enough.”
While I like to think I would be the first person in line to go for the new media options (yup, we have Verizon FIOS at home), and to buy the new gadget and celebrate the new and the exciting (check out what I am doing with Mass Innovation Nights), I can’t bring myself to celebrate or even make fun of other businesses failing. Especially small businesses. Now Blockbuster isn’t exactly a small business and it is managing to hold on but there were thousands of small privately-owned video rental stores once upon a time. For a long time, it seemed that there was a mom and pop movie rental business in every neighborhood. Lots of people made their living this way. (Maybe Blockbuster had more to do with driving them out of business but the reality is that easy downloads of movies aren’t your friend if you have a movie rental shop.)
Netflix helped spell the end of this market segment with their mail-in service and now the instant downloads. But you don’t see Netflix (or at least I didn’t see Netflix) dancing on the grave of the small movie rental store.
I don’t think of myself as one of the Motrin Mom-types. I “wore” my baby in a sling and man, if I wasn’t allergic to Ibuprofen, I would have been reaching for the Motrin — had horrible tendinitis from packing giant babies around.
People sometime have knee jerk reactions to commercials – declaring them offensive to this group or that group. And some are poorly thought out or implemented. But not everyone’s sense of humor is the same. So, no rabble rousing or boycotts or even a big BOO for Verizon from me. Maybe just a sad sigh — the Verizon FIOS guy usually manages to come off nice, not smug. So, Verizon, this commercial missed the mark for me. All it did was make me think about all the small businesses that are struggling through a tough time. It should have been trying to make me think about new cable services, right?
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. The vast majority of jobs can be found in small businesses. Only a tiny percentage of our workers are actually employed by giant monolithic corporations — which probably explains some of the outrage around the AIG bonuses. If you don’t work there and you don’t know someone who does, you are probably less inclined to excuse blatant mis-behavior. The world is not full of big company employees. It is more full of little company workers or people who work for themselves.
Lesson: Don’t diss the little guy because your audience might be one. And, make sure your commercial messages do what you want them to do.