Commercial Commentary: Comcast “Hooking Up Grandma’s House

So far in this column, I’ve covered a lot of ads that were either odd, or were making a poor sales pitch, or had some little mistake that I could play up for laughs. This is not one of those ads. I am serious, completely serious, about my hatred of this ad.

The treatment of the characters here by the writers reveals the writers displays casual contempt for those older or younger than them. I was going to leave aside the fact that this family spends their entire Christmas, apparently, watching television or performing some trick with their phones; this is a Comcast ad, after all, and they’re selling a product so you can hardly expect them to shove that product aside in favor of, say, Frankenstein’s monster heading to the town plaza, installing whimsical lights into his neck-bolts, and haltingly singing a C-list Christmas carol while his overall demeanor suggests that he’s being coerced into all of this. Because how would that sell anything to anyone?

“You will perform, at minimum, the entire first verse, or we will have the good doctor replace your nose, ears, and mouth with a single orifice, and then we will sell you your appendages back as a set of dongles.” | Photo Credit: Apple’s YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFPcsYGriEs)

Actually, I’m serious. Why would anyone respond to that spectacle with a desire to buy Apple? There’s nary a mention of a specific Apple product. Just a surreal, disorienting situation followed by a general reminder that Apple exists and a hope that you’ll recall that they make good electronics. (Actually, considering the specific Apple products released this year, this might be the best strategy advisable.)

But anyway, where was I? Ah, yes, Comcast being awful and ruining Christmas.

I’m used to telecommunications companies depicting their services as the premium way of life in the modern age. All advertizing tells some form of this story, and, considering that mass communication is one of the greater human acheivements, it makes more sense here than it might have elsewhere. Still there’s a difference between this ad…

…where Comcast competitor DirectTV suggests one spend literally one’s entire day watching streaming video content, and the Comcast ad above. And that difference is what is being sold.

Here, Comcast isn’t selling their target market an Xfinity package on the promise that said Xfinity package would make said target market’s lives better in any direct sense, but rather that without said Xfinity package their home will become a place resented by their families, who will consider them hopeless Luddites and resent holiday visits as something akin to hell. With said Xfinity package, you can be the cool grandparents, your family will love spending time with you, and the balance of the Force will be restored.

In short, Comcast is trying to sell the elderly their own grandchildren. That’s awful.

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