Ok, that’s out of the way… I was driving home from work, as I said before, and a commercial came on the radio for Lowe’s Home Improvement. It was your standard nondescript radio commercial. A couple is opening baby shower presents and there’s an envelope from his parents and low and behold there’s a gift certificate for Lowe’s, so now they can build a new nursery. Oh joy! Oh happiness!
Anyway, the utterly offensive part is that this commercial was customized to have a Mother’s Day ending. You know what I mean by customized? A different voice comes on and says something topical for the special occasion. Radio commercials do this all the time. Well this voice comes on and reminds me that Mother’s Day is coming up. “And what better gift for your mother than a Lowe’s gift certificate. Whether you want to spend $5 or $5000, a Lowe’s gift certificate will put mom or her way to starting that home improvement project of her dreams.”
What the fuck? Let me say that again: “What the fuck!?!”
Ok, at the risk of being blatantly sexist here, what marketing research genius determined that people who listen to the rush hour traffic show on the contemporary negro music station have mothers who would appreciate the fine present of a gift certificate to a hardware and home improvement store.
I’ve shopped at Lowe’s, and maybe I’m going at the wrong time but I just haven’t run into all that many middle-aged to elderly women standing around wishing they had enough money to afford that ban saw, or dreaming of the day when at long last they finally had the cash for that entire pile of 2x4s over there.
First of all, I happen to think that gift certificates are just about the stupidest present that you can buy someone in the first place. “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I love you so much that I’ve decided not to give you cash! I have no idea what you want, but I bet you can find it at this store.” Bleah. Far better to just give someone the cash and take all the guesswork out of it. At least then the person could really get what they want. If your mother really does have a dream of refinishing her kitchen or building a new den to relax in, then you should know it and if that’s really what you want to get her, then hire the god damned contractor yourself you lazy good for nothing bastard. What about if you know your mother hates something about her house but you don’t quite know what it is and you don’t want to fix it until you know for sure? Well then you’re a rotten son, asshole. Call the old lady every once in a while and let her gripe to you. She carried you in her belly for nine months only to have you spend eighteen years eating her out of house and home. You owe her.
Ok, I don’t want to completely generalize (ok, yes I do, I’m a bastard that way), so let me say that not all gift certificates are stupid. Dinner gift certificates are kind of nice. If you give your mother a $200 gift certificate to a nice sushi restaurant or something, you’re basically saying “Mom, I know you wouldn’t normally splurge like this, but just this once, go out with your friends and have a party on me.” That’s different. Now you are giving the gift of dinner but you are doing it with a placeholder so that the present recipient is not mandated to take you along. If you were going along, you could be much more classy by simply picking up the tab. But this is kind of a “you go have a you day” kind of thing. By the same token, I could see giving someone a gift certificate for a day at the spa or hair salon or masseuse or something like that. Things like these are akin to giving someone tickets to a show or a sporting event. These things make sense.
I’ve personally asked for gift certificates on the few occasions where I wanted something expensive but I didn’t want any one person to have to purchase it for me by him or herself. But again, this is different because I am explicitly asking for something. Something I want. Much like my plea for cash to customize my truck.
But this is just lame. Am I actually to believe that some people are so stupid that they are swayed by this commercial? Am I to understand that one of my fellow motorists is sitting in his car thinking to himself “shit, Mother’s day is this weekend and I still don’t know what to get. What thing would Mom really like that is in my price range of $5-5000? Oh wow! Of course! She’d love to go and spend some money at Lowe’s. Mom’s always been so handy. She can go and start a project, perhaps build that billiards room for Dad that he’s always talking about. And then it would be like that was a gift to him too and I won’t have to buy a Father’s Day present! Score!”
I mean really how hard is it to market to me really? Teenaged Russian lesbians can sale me just about anything. A catchy jingle about the wingman would work. Fucking talking frogs even. Is it really necessary for them to actually go out of their way to try and insult my intelligence? Of course if you actually want a gift certificate for building supplies so that you can start the home improvement project that you have always dreamed of, well then, mom I apologize.