Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Living with Network Television

It feels like I'm living in a post-Ice Age world. It's been a month since I moved out of my Satellite-infested, college home. It's been a month of unemployment frustration and watching network television on a grainy 15-inch television. Watching a game on ESPN at Chili's is the closest I've see of Texas' higher entertainment.

I'm a little bitter maybe. Every day, I look for some new reason to hate network television. It's not hard to find the wtf moments in every locally-sponsored commercial and primetime programming.


The Gary Qualls political commercial. The first time I saw it, I let a cigarette burn in the ashtray. I'm all for protests and counter-protests - hell, I've even considering driving up to Crawford and walking around with a sign that says "Will Protest 4 Beer, not as a mockery, but an excercise of free speech in what has become the hottest free speech arena in the country.

If qualls wants a debate, fine. I hope they televise it. He's setting himself up for a very bad public experience. Qualls is stuck in the bad position of being too emotional and too robotic. His speech during the commercial is very much segmented and obviously rehearsed. But, most of all, it's not provocative. I see it and cringe like watching "Meet the Parents" for the first time.

The GM Employee Pricing campaign. I heard about it before it finally hit. Actually, I heard GM was facing bankruptcy because of record-low sales trends. To spike the numbers, they decided to both lower the prices and feed-off the family patriotism epidemic - "come on in, buy a car and be treated as if you were one of our very own employees." It's a good idea, until they decide to end it, but that's to come and can't really be speculated until those quarter reports are received, analyzed, and then released. While consumers are enjoying the employee discount, what are the employees actually saying?

I worked at a Sam's Club for a couple years. During orientation we learned how Wal-Mart Inc. is good for all communities - both as a retailer and an employer - but when asked what immediate, tangible perks employees, "associates, " get for working for this big-business Frosty the Retailer, well, we all got free Sam's Club cards and a pat-on-the-back welcome. No special discounting because everything is already discounted. I felt cheated and only sold gallon jugs of pinto beans. I can only imagine what car salesmen are thinking as their commissions drop with the prices.

And Small-town, "big image" journalism. I saw a news story on the 10 o'clock news a couple nights ago about how more and more consumers are turning to credit cards to pay for their gas nozzle anal probes. The reporter talked to consumers and gas. Who still pays for gas with cash?

When was the last time you went to the ATM, pulled out $20 and drove to the gas station without ever creasing the bill? That's even more gas. No where in the story was d-e-b-i-t mentioned. What bank doesn't offer a checkcard function? It's not even a marketing tool, or sign-up perk anymore because every bank is doing it. No one pays cash for anything these days. Okay, that's an exaggeration, but we're getting there. It's gotten so routine that most of the large cities are not even making you sign a credit card receipt if it's under $5. I've bought 7-11 re-fills with quarters, cigarettes with dimes, and charged $1.73 to my checkcard for a B&N pretzel.

You would think...But what are they thinking?