Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I want to be wrong

In the past couple months I've been reliving some of my younger days by watching episodes of Diff'rent Strokes in syndication. Because two of the main characters are young black men, these episodes air on Black Entertainment Television.

Tonight, I noticed a disturbing trend in the commercials. During one commercial break, three of the four commercials seemed to prey on those in our society some might consider less than intelligent, having poor credit, needing to take advantage of offers that would force them to pay much more than necessary for an almost ubiquitous piece of household technology, or those that are simply down on their luck and needing a little extra cash.

Am I wrong in sensing that a commercial for a payday loan company (many of which are renowned for charging outrageous interest rates), a company offering computers to people with bad credit, approval guaranteed and without a credit check, and an offer for "cash for gold", might be attempting to take advantage of the demographic towards which the station is skewed?

I'd like to be wrong in this. I really would. But I have to admit that I see this type of advertising more on this channel than anywhere else. I don't know what else to make of it. Is it a comment on our current economic situation? Is it simply that this station has less viewers, making advertising prices low enough so these less than reputable companies can afford to purchase spots? Or, am I correct in my gut feeling?

This is not the way I feel about this demographic. I feel that they have as much to offer as my demographic does. I just can't understand this theory of advertising.

Like I said, I want to be wrong. Please, let me be wrong.

1 comment:

Heather said...

O I don't think you're wrong.

I think it's predatory, Machiavellian marketing. I think it's smug. I think it's nasty. I think it's wrong. And I think if education in this country didn't think "those" kids can't learn, then "those" teachers would be helping the kids to smell a lie when they see it on TV.

One day my kids in NYC were whining that the cops didn't come fast enough when something bad was happening in their neighborhoods. "In the white neighborhoods you know the cops would be there right away!"

I asked if they knew why.

They cited all the trite answers (racism, hatred etc). I asked them how many of them (some were 18) or their parents voted.

They looked at me blankly.

I told them everyone I knew in my neighborhood voted...and if the cops didn't come fast enough there would be letters written, protests staged, and new folks voted in.

There was nothing that happened in my neighborhood that couldn't happen in their own.

The power that one moment gave those kids was immeasurable. It wasn't a done-deal. They weren't screwed for life, just 'cuz'.

But if that conversation hadn't come up in class that day...I shudder...