Sunday, November 8, 2009

Metaphorically Speaking... Uh, No

In the mid-1990's, the Blockbuster Video rental chain was trying very hard to take a leading position in the game rental and sales business.  They set out to convince players that Blockbuster locations were great for refreshing one's collection and broadening one's gaming options.

This shouldn't have been a difficult concept to get across; the economic tradeoffs of rental versus ownership are well understood by most gamers.   But the chain's advertising metaphor went a bit wide of the mark:

I take considerable issue with the fundamental premise: "Video games are like underwear."

In what way is this true?  Underwear is utilitarian; video games are entertainment.  Underwear is something to be worn; video games something to be experienced.  I suppose a number of earthier arguments could be made vis a vis physical condition or olfactory character of a poor game, but none of those seem likely to strengthen the intended marketing message.

Even the ad's own copy doesn't make a credible claim - "You get attached to the good ones"?  Huh?  Hats, jackets, sweatshirts, perhaps; underwear, not in my experience.

Nor does the concept tie into the ad's closing slogan - "WHERE THE CHALLENGE NEVER ENDS."

Anyone who finds his or her underwear challenging probably has bigger issues to deal with.

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