My Dearest Target,
How are you? I trust you are enjoying the start of the Christmas period, which I imagine major retailers look forward to with all the anticipation of a sex addict awaiting a holiday in Ibiza.
Yesterday I was perusing your shelves in search of a toiletries bag that I had believed I would require for my planned trip to New York. As it turns out neither the toiletries bag nor the trip to New York will now be necessary as my girlfriend decided to break up with me a few days before our one year anniversary and thus reduce me to an irrational, quivering wreck engaged in peculiar behavior such as writing elaborate complaint letters to department stores, but that’s neither here nor the other place.
Whilst waiting in line to make my purchase I was subjected to your holiday promo clip. Now, aside from the fact that this insufferably saccharine commercial featured lots of sickeningly elated blonde white people and storks carrying babies (when was this thing written, the 1950s?) the ad and its ridiculously loud music were repeated and repeated over and over again and again and again. It was interrupted by only the intermittent PROCEED TO CHECKOUT FIVE announcements, making me feel as though I was alternating my time between some Kafkaesque consumer hell and some Kafkaesque bureaucratic nightmare (Kafka really was the king of literary misery wasn’t he?)
I’m not sure if you are aware of this, but incessantly repeated music is actually one of the most popular modern forms of psychological torture. During the Bush era two of the favourite bands used at Guantanamo bay were Nine Inch Nails and Massive Attack. Quite ironic given the fact that both of those bands despised the Bush administration. Do you think they got paid royalties for public broadcast each time their song got repeated?
Once in India I took a 20 hour jeep ride from Srinagar to Leh, and the MP3 player kept skipping back to the start of whatever song it was playing. We asked the driver to just turn it off but he told us that without music he would fall asleep and at this point we were on a tiny Himalayan mountain road with a steep ravine right reaching ominously out beneath us so we let him have his way. Just before we finally reached Leh, we heard the first ten seconds of the song Gimmie More featuring the delightful opening line “It’s Britney bitch!” over and over and over (and over). By the time we reached Leh we had been reduced to giggling, hysterical lunatics.
Try listening to THIS 500 times in a row…
So as I’m listening to this syrupy commercial on infinite repeatrepeatrepeat, I’m thinking, what effect is this having on the staff here? Surely this can’t be psychologically healthy? Finally the all-commanding screen interrupts the commercial and instructs me to move to the checkout. I always do what television tells me, so I dutifully obeyed and handed my soon to be redundant travel toiletries bag to the young man behind the counter.
“That’s a total of five cents.” Says he. I looked at price tag, which quite definitely stated $9.05, and I thought to myself, surely I must have misheard him? It can’t possibly be some sort of 99.45% Christmas discount? I passed him $20, and he handed me back $19.95. I took the money in my hand and was open to say something along the lines of “Whaaaaaaaaat?” when the all-seeing monitor demanded that I vacate the checkout so that it might be utilised by another obedient consumer.
In conclusion: perhaps you should reconsider the all-seeing monitor playing your advertisements on infinite loop, not only for the effect it has on your staff, but the effect it has on your profit margin.
AND A MERRY CHRISTMAS OR WHATEVER THE HELL ELSE YOU BELIEVE IN TO ALL!