You know that weird cousin or drunk uncle no one wants to sit next to at Thanksgiving? The one that makes you think “Yeah, I’ll just bring another bottle of 2-Buck-Chuck to Grandma’s today?” I’m wondering if some advertisers have decided these folks are an untapped market. I mean, conspiracy theory nephews need car insurance too, right?
And none are better at tailoring their ads to Facebook-fight aunts than Liberty Mutual Insurance. Their current campaign, filled with angry, put-upon people is enough to make the most ardent ad-lover scramble for the remote’s mute button.
Let’s pretend you are the new beloved of a wonderful person. They have brought you to a family gathering where you will get to meet the whole damn clan. Suddenly, your cousin who is no longer allowed at the golf club isn’t so embarrassing, is she?
First up is cousin Lily. She’s…um…well, she’s really into her car. Please, whatever you do, don’t mention Brad Pitt at dinner. Trust me on this.
Oh look! It’s Aunt Justine and Uncle Phil. Their native tongue is passive aggressive. If we’re really lucky we’ll get caught in one of their fights, but have no idea they have thoughtfully put us in the middle until the drive home!
And now we meet Aunt Kat. We politely refer to her as “organized”. A potluck at her house is no less orchestrated than a military invasion. Want to know why my brother isn’t here today? He brought the wrong spoon for the potato salad to last year’s Forth of July picnic and hasn’t lived down the shame yet.
Mutual Liberty, I get it, folks hate paying for insurance, it’s weird and expensive. I even applaud you for understanding this fact! I’m just trying to figure out your game here. Your competitors’ spokes people include a charming, personable and (I think Australian ???) gecko, the adorable and approachable Flo, the golden voice President from 24, and the now super buff JK Simmons, and you, what? decided to go with an anti-hero?
Yet, Mutual Liberty isn’t alone in this. It seems more and more groups are going for the angry crowd. Blue Buffalo dog food’s ads had characters who were ready to sharpen pitch forks because their dogs’ food wasn’t gourmet. Now University of Phoenix has released an incredibly pissed off commercial that promises we will all be sorry for underestimating their students, to the tune of “If I Only Had a Brain” from The Wizard of Oz.
There is no doubt we are living in a hayday of the angry person, I just never expected Madison Avenue to grip this derision for profit. What does it say about our society when the sizzle we are selling is burning anger?