2020 Needs Some New Material

Is anyone else sick of “these unprecedented times?” It seems like you can’t watch TV or the cheapest streaming option without one or two ads throwing out that phrase. Sometimes they mix it up a bit by saying “these uncertain times” or “these challenging times”, but the point is to remind us that the times we are living in are not normal. After all, how can we remember that if they don’t constantly remind us?

More importantly, the companies behind these ads want you to know that they are here for you. Companies that normally wouldn’t spit on their customers if they were on fire without raising their rates. Insurance, pharmaceutical, airline and cruise line are among the industries now trying to convince us that they care, as if COVID made their heart grow three sizes. Not impossible given what we know about COVID, but the more likely explanation is that they’ve simply adjusted their sales pitch to reflect the changing marketplace. It’s annoying, but it’s just business.

What’s way more annoying is the celebrity public service announcements, where they bravely face the camera without the usual hair, makeup and wardrobe to remind us that “we’re all in this together.” Hey, they’ve got bills too! Private islands don’t pay for themselves. But to be fair, hating celebrities for spouting tone-deaf platitudes from their mansions does bring the rest of us closer together, so I guess it’s mission accomplished!

What we really need are messages that speak to the reality 99% of the country is currently facing, from companies that know how to relate to us. “Budweiser – boredom is thirsty work,” or “Subway – when you can’t eat another bite of homemade sourdough,” or “Home Depot – you’re drunk and bored, so why not give regrouting the bathroom a try?” Or the one phrase that fits neatly in front of any brand name, “you’ve got nothing better to do.”

It’s a pipe dream for now, much like concerts, tailgating and universal healthcare, but the longer the pandemic rages on, the more desperate advertisers will be for new material. If you like these suggestions, write to Corporate America now and demand they adapt these new slogans. After all, you’ve got nothing better to do.

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