“…That’s So (Fill in the Blank) Snarky,” Or Why I Think We’re Headed Down the Wrong Road

By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka The PRDude

You’re familiar with the television campaign I’m about to discuss; no qualms with the message and what the company is trying to sell, but I do have serious reservations about what’s implied during the 30-spot.

Here’s the scenario: Two guys in their late 20s or early 30s are in a parking lot during a football tailgate.  But rather than do the things you’re “supposed” to do prior to game time — drink (usually beer), eat (usually something grilled), make noise (usually about how your team is going to kick the ass of the opponent) and enjoy being with friends (sometimes tossing a football back and forth) — our protagonists are slumped in folding chairs, totally enamored with proving how fast their 4G smart phone services are compared to others.

“That was so 46 seconds ago,” one guy matter-of-factly points out in the first situation.  “That was so 12 seconds ago,” he proclaims in a second.  And, “That was so 27 seconds ago,” he states in a third.   In each instance comes off like a grammar-schooler who boasts, “I know something you don’t know!  Yneah, yneah!”

Watch the commercial by clicking here.  I don’t even want to publish the name of the advertiser, but it’s company that’s been around for a while.  The announcer sums up the sales pitch with this comment: “Stay a step ahead with 4G LTE with speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G.”

Here’s some additional copy posted by the advertiser that accompanied the video, which I found on YouTube.  (By the way, YouTube has lots of other videos you can watch for free if you get tired of the one in question.)

“This spot introduces (advertiser’s) 4G LTE and its blazing fast speeds. It celebrates the possibilities that open up to our two hero tailgaters as they are able to connect at (advertiser) 4G LTE speed on the first 4G LTE-enabled smartphone from (advertiser) — the HTC Vivid. Fellow tailgaters approach the main characters, eager to share news about the football game. But with speeds up to 10x faster than 3G, (advertiser’s) 4G LTE has enabled our two tailgaters to find out everything faster, transforming the “breaking news” into something ‘so 42 seconds ago.'”

Okay, Mr. Tailgate Hero, now the gloves come off.  So you and your buddy just got some information that totals 85 precious seconds ahead of those of us who rely on 3G service.  What that leads me to believe about your character is that you need to find out that there’s more to life than learning some trivial news ahead of every one else.

But from a broader perspective, I came away with these messages:

  1. We’ve become so enamored, so dependent on technology that we can’t enjoy simple pleasures, like a tailgate party.
  2. We have to be first! All the time!  Even for relatively inconsequential information.  First is always best!
  3. We’re less than others if we don’t have the latest technol0gy, the latest gadget.
  4. And, is okay — no, it’s cool — to use self-centered, snarky jerks to help sell products and services.  For the advertiser to refer to the two guys as “heroes,” even jokingly, is an insult to the men and women in our armed forces, emergency first responders, single moms making a go of it and other true heroes.  Add the Lone Ranger and Tonto.

These thoughts should matter to us today — and 46 seconds, and 12 seconds and 27 seconds from now.  Take 46, or 12 or 27 seconds and reply with your thoughts.

“Asians in the Library” Video: Random Thoughts

By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka the PRDude

The newest video sensation fueled by YouTube and inexpensive and easy-to-use tech toys like the FlipCam has nothing to do with crying babies or pets engaged in comical antics.   No, the “vlogosphere” now has a new star, one with blond hair, an apparent fondness for too-tight tops and push-up bras and speech patterns probably honed through many visits to shopping malls in the Valley.

The subject in question is Alexandra Wallace, a student at UCLA who studies political science, visits the library and more than likely will  have no friends of Asian descent for many years to come.

Here’s the scenario: Ms. Wallace posted a video “rant” on YouTube where she complained about Asians who talk on their cell phones in the library.  She goes on to say Asian students at UCLA have parents who do their laundry and purchase their food.

Watch the original, found from the link above, or visit YouTube to view the many responses and parodies to Ms. Wallace’s original production.  As this is written, the original version had 1,035,297 views, while some of the reactionary videos have garnered close to a half million views.

The PRDude doesn’t comment about subjects involving racial stereotypes, world thoughts from blond political science students or related topics.  But here are some random thoughts:

  • Ms. Wallace and a few of the other “commentators” utter a few of the words you really shouldn’t say in polite company.  Some advice: Video evidence of potty mouth won’t help your career opportunities.
  • College students still go to the library? I’m impressed and amazed. Back when I attended Illinois State University in the mid 1970s, we had to go to the library because that’s where the books  and knowledge were located. Can’t students today just Google a question?
  • This post will take me around 45 minutes to research, write, review, add links, etc.  Th0se who recorded and posted videos spent at least that much time.  Don’t we have better things to do with our time?
  • The “Asian library rant” is a true example of a video going viral. And, it exposes how this great nation — built and rebuilt — by peoples of all races and nationality still has a long way to go in terms of addressing stereotypes.  Perhaps someone at Fox News or MSNBC will offer commentary soon.  (Imagine a debate between Glenn Beck and Lawrence O’Donnell.)
  • In other parts of the world, Northern Africa and the Middle East for example, people who take opposing views to what the government requires you to believe get arrested or shot.  Here in the USA, we can make unpopular, and perhaps stupid, opinions known and publish them for all to absorb.  The worse that can happen is ridicule, and maybe a lawsuit.

A few final thoughts from a true public relations perspective on this scenario:

  • The administration at UCLA should use this opportunity to open up dialogue to address racial stereotyping.
  • Colleges from coast to coast could build awareness for enforcing a “no talking on cell phones in the library” policy.
  • We all should view the original “rant” and its subsequent responses to realize that sometimes it’s better to keep comments private.