Friday, August 16, 2019

A free t-shirt for all my readers!

The folks who run New York Senator Kirstin Gillibrand’s campaign have decided that I want, or can be convinced to want, her to win the Democratic nomination for president. 

I’ve received dozens of messages from Gillibrand on my Facebook feed, including the one below inviting me to, “Enter to win a whiskey with Kirsten.”  

The premise is simple. Send money to help Gillibrand secure the nomination; get entered into a sweepstakes for the chance to have "a whiskey" with the senator.  I assume we'll each get our own glass and won't have to share in case one of us has a cold sore.

The ad's secondary objective, without a doubt, is to make Gillibrand out to be someone voters would like to have a drink with and I, for one, would most definitely welcome that opportunity. I'd ask her, while waiting for the bartender to pour our drinks (make mine a Maker's Mark on the rocks) why she, a lawyer, doesn't believe in due process because she led the charge to force Al Franken, a senator who actually accomplished something, to resign without so much as a hearing. But I digress. 

As an advertising professional, I find the headline uninspiring. Why didn’t the writer use alliteration to add interest?  “Win a Kalhua with Kirsten." "Win a Kamikaze with Kirsten." Or (ideal for Utah where a substantial percentage of voters are Mormon teetotalers),  “Win a Kool-Aid with Kirsten."

The ad makes sense only to those who know Gillibrand bragged that whiskey is her beverage of choice, as if that is a reason for anyone but Jack Daniels stakeholders to vote for her. 

I thought Gillibrand's advertising couldn’t get any dumber until two days ago when I saw the ad at the top of this column, inviting me to “Chip in $1, Get a Free T-Shirt.” Apparently Gillibrand needs 130,000 individual donors to contribute at least $1 in order to qualify for the next round of Democratic debates, so some marketing whiz came up with the idea of offering a shirt to every contributor.  

There are so many things wrong with the ad that I hardly know where to begin. 

For starters, it is deceptive. The t-shirt isn’t free. You have to give at least $1 to get it. 

And there’s an economic issue here. There isn’t a third-world sweatshop that can produce a two-color screened t-shirt and ship it to America for $1. Not to mention, the campaign has to pay someone to put each shirt in an envelope, address it, and pay the postage.

Knowing something about t-shirts  -- I produced tens of thousands in my agency days -- I’d have to guess each shirt is costing the campaign at least $4.50 to put in the mail,  probably more. If everybody who orders one contributes just $1, they’re going to lose a load of money. 

I contributed $1 immediately, and received two emails. One told me to expect my t-shirt in six to eight weeks. The second asked if I would consider increasing my contribution. I deleted it. 

Today I received a follow-up message asking me to reconsider the amount of my contribution. I wrote back. “No."

It gets dumber.  Although I first saw the ad two days ago (and my son did too, because we laughed about it), it is still showing up on my Facebook feed. Gillibrand's social media experts know I clicked through, contributed money, and they should have instructed Facebook to stop showing it to me because every time it appears, they have to pay Facebook a fee. Surely by now, at least 130,000 Facebook users have figured out they can get a shirt worth at least $4.50 for $1 and, if they support one of her opponents, help drive Gillibrand's campaign into bankruptcy. Are Gillibrand's advisors even keeping tabs on how many shirts they have promised to send, and how much money they will have to shell out?  Clearly, the senator and her advisors have no understanding of basic economics, much less marketing. 

Whatever, I’m looking forward to my new t-shirt, which should be arriving soon. 

The rag I use to scrub my grill is saturated with so much grease I'm afraid to put it in the washing machine. 

This will be the perfect replacement. 

Monday, August 5, 2019

Fraud department, may I help you?

Bank Call Center Rep: Credit card fraud department. To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking today?

TD: Ny name is Thomas Dryden. I just got a text that someone tried to use my card in Europe.

BCCR: Alright Mr. Thomas, I see you are calling from the phone number we have on record for you. Can you tell me your password?

TD: Dachshund. That’s d-a-c-h-s-h-u-n-d.

BCCR: So, you are saying you didn’t attempt to charge 23,352 euros at the Casino de Monte-Carlo in Monaco 12 minutes ago?

TD: That’s right. I’m at home. And I’m looking at my card. It hasn’t been out of my possession.

BCCR: Okay Mr. Thomas. We will open an investigation into that charge, cancel your card, and send you a new one with a new number which you should expect to arrive in eight to ten days.

TD: Wait a sec, I use that card every day. I must have at least a dozen accounts on auto-pay – my cable, gym, cell phone, water bill and others. Am I going to have to contact them and give them the new number?

BCCR: Yes, Mr. Thomas.

TD: Is there any way you can get the new card to me faster?

BCCR: We can send it express mail. You’ll have it no later than Wednesday.

TD: Thanks, that’s doable. And thanks for notifying me about the fraud. Good catch.

BCCR: As long as I have you on the phone, Mr. Thomas, can we review some more charges to your card?

TD: Sure, good idea.

BCCR: Yesterday at 7:37 p.m., $55.98 to TGIFridays, Naples, Florida.
TD: That’s legit. We went with friends for Happy Hour. They’re running a special, all the appetizers you can eat, just $12.99 per person. They were pretty awful but hey, they were filling. And cheap.

BCCR: Saturday at 7:24 p.m, 640 euros to Madame XXX and her Nubile Nymphettes, Amsterdam.

TD: No, that’s not legit. How could I have been in Amsterdam at the same time I was in Florida?

BCCR: Alright Mr. Thomas, we will mark that charge as suspicious. How about Saturday at 5.02 p.m., $39.01 at Exxon Mobil, Bonita Springs, Florida?

TD: That’s legit.

BCCR: Friday at 2:25 p.m., $192.52, Bud's Best Cannabis Dispensary, Denver, Colorado.

TD: No, that’s not mine, either.

BCCR: Alright Mr. Thomas, we will investigate that charge.  

TD: You don’t have to investigate. I haven’t been to Colorado this decade.

BCCR: Friday at 10:11 a.m., $39.02, Ace Hardware, Bonita Springs, Florida.

TD: That’s legit.

BCCR: Thursday at 6:19 p.m, $103.11, Publix Supermarket, Bonita Springs, Florida

TD: That’s legit, too.

BCCR: Thursday at 4:42 p.m., 460 Singaporean dollars at Raffles Bar, Singapore.

TD: No. Unfortunately.

BCCR: I beg your pardon?

TD:  It's not legit.

BCCR: Just a few more, Mr. Thomas. Thursday at 3:54 p.m., $44 Cinema Multiplex, Estero, Florida.

TD: Yeah, we took our grandsons to see Toy Story 4.

BCCR: Thursday at 1 p.m., $35.14 to CVS Pharmacy, Bonita Springs, Florida.

TD: My allergy prescriptions. Legit. 

BCCR:  Okay Mr. Thomas, I see that all other charges took place in Florida and have already been posted to your account, so they are legitimate.  Please allow up to 48 hours for delivery of your new card.

TD: Okay, I'll be looking for it.

BCCR:  Thank you for calling (Bank Name). Is there anything else I can do for you?

TD: Yes.

BCCR: And what is that, Mr. Thomas?

TD: If you ever find him, introduce me to the person who made all those charges. He’s having more fun than I am.