Stupid Subliminal Message

Image representing GE as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

One of my greatest peeves is watching dumb commercials on TV. The dumbest ads leave me wondering what product they want me to buy. Others are cute scenarios and are funny, but leave me wondering what are they are selling? The most recent commercial to catch my eye is the one where hundreds of people carry a huge extension cord out-of-town looking like a caterpillar.  They arrive on a grassy hill and tilt the three prong plug into an electrical outlet overlooking dark skyscrapers in the distance. The plug goes into the socket but the town stays dark. Then a wimpy young man in a sport coat hauls off and slams his fist into the plug, and wallah, the town lights up.

Cute, I thought, but I can’t tell you what the ad is selling. I do remember the company though, it is General Electric, or GE as we fondly refer to them. Since GE builds turbines for generating electricity, the ad must be about the power of GE filling our need for electricity.

The first time, I saw the ad, I liked the very clever visual. I commend the ad company for coming up with the idea of  all those people lugging this giant extension cord out of a dark town. The people struggle to tilt the three prong plug into the outlet on the hill. The plug drops into the socket, but the town stays dark. It is funny when the fast thinking guy bumps the plug to get the system to work.

By the second and third viewing the ad became more disturbing. Why would a company the size of GE condone such a stupid message? They build turbines for Boeing, Air Bus, and power plants. They do amazing stuff, and have a fantastic record of reliability. At one time they owned the home appliance business. They rivaled Whirlpool for the quality and reliability of  refrigerators, dishwashers, stoves, etc. Not any more. In fact people now avoid GE appliance because of poor reliability. I have owned several GE refrigerators over fifty years, and the newest one has problems. Thankfully, their reputation for turbines is still intact.

The engineer in me began questioning how something as rugged looking as that extension chord can be so sensitive that a bump from a single person can make it work. A message flashed through my mind, if it is so touchy, it is not worth crap. Now when I see this commercial, I think of  the townspeople who  expect their  power company to supply consistent and reliable power with a system that a single soft bump can take down.

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