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Ads that push my buttons!

Opinion

March 9, 2016

Stop counting your “likes”, it’s all about the reactions now.  Love, Wow, Sad, Angry.  The only one missing is “immediate and irrational hate.”  I’m not sure exactly what that emoji would look like, but I think it might get some use in our current political news cycle.  Maybe something like this?


I’m certainly not prone to angry outbursts, but there are two TV ads currently running that push all of my anger buttons. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to get political in this space.)  One ran during the Superbowl, and the other airs often on a local TV network, so you’ve probably seen both.

The first is from Rocket Mortgage, and this is the spot that ran during the Super Bowl:


They told us Rocket Mortgage made it as easy to buy a home online as it is to buy shoes.  Bored at work? Distracted at the gym?  Those whales in the aquarium aren’t cool enough to hold your attention?  Get a mortgage!  And then buy a lot of consumer goods to fill that house!  In just 8 minutes!  Do it now!  There’s probably no downside to that, right? That silly mortgage crisis was so 2008, I’m sure we’ve all recovered and forgotten about that by now.  

Judging from reactions in the press and social media, this ad didn’t land as they hoped.

To be fair, most of the articles I read the next day tempered the outrage by clarifying that Rocket Mortgage doesn’t make it easier to get approved, it just simplifies the application process.  Quicken even responded to many of the tweets to clarify the issue.  But it still promotes  getting a mortgage as a casual activity, and suggests that everyone in America should participate.  The tone of the ad doesn’t align with how consumers are thinking about mortgages and home-buying, and I was left feeling irritated and angry about the assumptions they seemed to be making in their ad.

Before I share the second example, I’d like you to imagine you’re outside on a beautiful spring day.  Maybe you’re fishing, or practicing yoga, or enjoying a campfire with friends.  Not a bad way to spend a day.  Then you fire up your phone so you can start playing online poker.  You haven’t noticed that your marshmallow is burned to a crisp and nearly started a forest fire, or that you’ve been in corpse pose for two hours.  You can’t even remember where you are because you’re down a hundred bucks and your battery is at 10%.  What a great day!  Now that’s a win!


According to the Borgata, your time spent outdoors communing with nature can be vastly improved by being able to play poker, so you can ignore those pesky fish that keep trying to bite your line.  

We all know that it’s hard to unplug from our mobile devices.  They make our lives easier in so many ways, but it’s infuriating to me  that both of these ads suggest we could be so much happier if we just let them infiltrate every moment of our lives.  If you look that happy to be able to play poker in the middle of your downward dog, then you should be paying closer attention to the “1-800-Gambler” portion of that ad. The ad is terrible, and you’re kind of  terrible, too.  

The Borgata shareholders should be just as unhappy with that ad as I am.  The Borgata is one of the few Atlantic City success stories, and it stays at the top because it is more than a casino, it’s a destination.  The Borgata website describes itself as “an unparalleled travel experience on the East Coast. The 2,000 room stylish casino-hotel…presents a destination.”   This ad seems to encourage gamblers to stay away, gamble from the comfort of your own home, or even by the lake.  This goes against what has made their brand a success. I’m sure the Borgata will see increased revenue from online gambling, but it will diminish their brand at the same time.  Short-term gains aren’t good for long-term brand loyalty.

So maybe instead of being irrational, my dislike stems from the actual dissonance between the brand promise and the messages.  Or perhaps I just really wish everyone would put their phones away for a couple of hours.  Either way, I’ll be happy if I never have to see those smiling, gambling faces again.

What ads have raised your blood pressure recently?

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