Monday, December 04, 2006

Welcome to the Machine!

There’s this new VISA commercial showing a lunchtime hell where hundreds of hungry people are mere cogs in a cafeteria machine. The cartoon assembly line music playing in the background emphasizes the frenzied inhumanity of the scene, and by the end of the lunch line each customer/cog swipes a VISA card through a machine (all in time to the music). Then the assembly line crashes to a discordant halt when one of the cogs pulls out his wallet and pays in cash.

Here’s why I can’t work in advertising: VISA paid for this commercial on the theory that it would make people want to be credit-bearing cogs in an efficient machine rather than some cash-handling jackhole human, pardon my French. But I‘m thinking the commercial works better as promotional fodder for a pro-cash organization with a name like The Society for the Promotion of Responsible Consumer Spending. Fight the machine! Stick it to the man! Pay in cash!

Does this commercial actually sell credit cards to the mainstream? Ignoring the possibility of a comical mix-up at an ad agency doing work for both the SPRCS and the VISA corporation, either I am completely out of touch with mainstream America or the commercial writer is. Here’s the link again. What do you think?

11 Comments:

Blogger Breena Ronan said...

Oh my goddess! I hate that commercial. It grates on my nerves every time I see it! There's another set of commercials that is similar, in which people are frantically driving around trying to complete holiday errands and are only saved from the craziness by their in-car GPS systems.

10:45 PM  
Anonymous Eric the .5b said...

Actually...it doesn't look bad at all until the end. I want the place I get lunch at to be a cheerful, efficient machine where I effortlessly get my food and get out with no fuss.

The discordance at the end, and the dismayed befuddlement on the face of the cash-user (not to mention the annoyance of everyone else) just sours it, though.

10:48 PM  
Blogger rhhardin said...

Hotels are factories for sleep.

You heard it here first, unless you read whatever book I read that had it as an example of metaphoric thinking, perhaps _A Poetic for Sociology_ by Richard Harvey Brown ; or maybe something by Kenneth Burke.

2:53 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Eric. I might like the beginning if it went to the music of a stately ballet or something. But that factory music. . . no, it just doesn't sit right with me.

6:38 AM  
Anonymous Grant Gould said...

I have eaten in a lot of cafeterias. I have yet to encounter a single one where a credit card transaction is faster than a cash transaction.

Perhaps on Planet VISA the card always scans the first time, the receipt prints instantly, the signature pen never falls on the floor or runs out of ink, and nobody has to fumble with the card slots on their wallets. Perhaps also root beer rains from the skies and everyone has a pony.

6:55 AM  
Blogger Timothy said...

Rootbeer rain would be sticky.

8:12 AM  
Anonymous A Moose said...

Rootbeer rain would be sticky.

But there's the Pony...

9:59 AM  
Blogger Timothy said...

A dear friend of mine has an ex-girlfriend we call "Pony". I've never thought ponies were all that neat as a result.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous a moose said...

A dear friend of mine has an ex-girlfriend we call "Pony".

It does beg the question as to whether you called her that before she assumed the "ex" mantle...but I'll resist.

I'm sorry to hear you are pony joy challenged.

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Warren said...

I grew up in this country watching TV so I am immune to advertising. I didn't think of it from the cogs in the machine aspect. Now that you mention it, Swan Lake would have totally changed this ad. I focused on the guy slow paying at the register. Cash payers don't hold things up too badly. But the check writers at the grocery get my goat as much as drivers that won't turn if they can see another car two miles down the road.

9:06 PM  
Anonymous smacky said...

I have eaten in a lot of cafeterias. I have yet to encounter a single one where a credit card transaction is faster than a cash transaction.


I'll second that. In fact, it is the credit card payers in my workplace cafeteria who get the dirty looks -- the card reader takes a solid minute or two just to accept the transaction. Plus, there is the added WTF as to why someone wouldn't have 4 or 5 dollars on them to pay for lunch.

9:58 AM  

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