What do your company's ads say about you?

Today we are going to look at several companies with shamefully poor ads that not only fail to promote their services but instead actually give their company a bad taste.

Capital One Venture Card - Double Miles

After seeing this ad twenty or thirty times on television and Hulu I am filled with incredible disgust for Capital One. Before this ad I was already mildly irritated at Capital One for sending spam mail to my physical mailbox about once a month, telling me that I was prequalified to sign up for a Capital One card. I would however still open the mail and look at it. After watching this ad though, I feel a visceral disgust whenever I see their mail spam, and I throw it away unopened. To me this ad is like a slap in the face. The actor has an incredibly conceited attitude throughout this ad, and in its associated ads in the same series. The actor is not someone I would want to be friends with. If I met such a person in real life I would avoid them, because they are not pleasant to be around. It boggles my mind that Capital One would purposefully chose such an unpleasant person to be their representative in the ad. In fact even in this very ad you can see that other people in the ad have a distaste for the actor. Look at the expression on the pilot's face when the actor tells him "Don't worry... I've played a pilot before." This ad is a huge failure. What this ad makes me think is that Capital One thinks they are better than their customers, and if you aren't signed up for their service you are stupid. After seeing this ad series Capital One is on my blacklist of companies I will never have business dealings with.

Chase Freedom - Money Booth

This is another example of an ad which is insulting to its customer base. The customer pictured in the ad makes an honest mistake, after which the representative of Chase Freedom doesn't give her a second chance, but instead makes fun of her for making the wrong choice. This is supposed to make me want to switch to Chase Freedom? I don't know how these companies got the idea that making fun of potential customers will get them to switch over to their company, but they are very wrong.

Chase Freedom - Personal Transporter

I think that Chase realized how insulting and terrible the "Money Booth" ad was, so they made an abrupt about face and turned the same insulting character into a bumbling idiot, probably in an attempt to charm over customers who had been turned off by his previous "better than you" attitude. In this series of ads the representative of Chase Freedom sits in a freezer shivering while waiting for a customer, nearly crashes his "personal transporter", burns a meal, etc. Clearly this is an attempt to show that contrary to what the previous money booth ad said, Chase is not better than you, they are just like you and they make mistakes. This is an admirable change. However, it still doesn't make me want to switch to Chase. Instead it makes me feel that Chase is incompetent and clumsy, just like the main character in their ads.

Frost Bank - 2012 Olympics Commercial

Now lest you think I just hate all bank ads, lets take a look at a bank ad that is tasteful, and which makes me want to switch to their bank:

This ad is in a word, beautiful. It isn't over the top, it doesn't insult customers, it doesn't represent the company with a bumbling idiot. Instead it says "Frost bank is patriotic, it cares about USA, it cares about you." The tag line "We're from here" is powerful. It gives me a good feeling about Frost bank. For another beautiful example of Frost bank advertising check out their Hulu ad, which unfortunately can't be embedded. This Hulu ad clearly references the stupid antics, and general buffoonery of their competitors ads, and tells customers that Frost actually means business.


In conclusion the lesson to be learned is that companies really need to think about what their ads say about their company. If your ad says that you company thinks it is better than customers, and insults customers, or if your ad says that your company is incompetent and makes lots of mistakes then do you really expect it to have good results on your company's reputation?

TV News is Ridiculous Compared to Internet News

Today while sitting in a waiting room I found myself watching CNN on the waiting room television, and what I saw got me thinking about the difference between television news and Internet news.

The first and most major difference is freedom of choice. If I am looking for news online I can chose which articles I want to read. Television news just feeds a constant stream of regurgitated pop culture drivel mixed in with the legitimate news about world developments. There is no way to skip the noise as you can online.

The second major factor is the quality of the news. The television news I just saw was ridiculously shallow. They literally spent about 4-5 minutes speculating about the cause of Whitney Houston's death. When the segment was over I thought back about what they said and realized that there was not one useful fact or insight in what they said. It was all what ifs and possibilities. This segment was followed by "breaking" news about developments in heart repair using stem cells. I read this breaking news three days ago on the Internet and the online article went into much better detail.

Last but not least is ads. Internet ads don't interrupt you completely. They sit in the page and although some sites have ads inserted into text, or animated ads that are distracting, Internet ads are in no way as intrusive as television ads which waste your time by completely changing the topic.

I don't understand how television news plans to stay alive. If I can absorb news on the Internet faster, with fewer distracting ads, and with the freedom to chose which topics I want to read then what does television have to offer? News anchors? Most of the time I can't stand their personalities and clearly opinion laced interview language.

Compared with television news, Internet news is much more effective for getting real, timely news, with much more freedom of selection.

AT&T Sucks, and now it is ruining T-Mobile too.

When I heard the announcement that AT&T was in plans to buy out T-Mobile my first reaction was dread. My favorite phone company, the one with the best plans I ever found was going to be bought out by the telephone company that I hate most. The acquisition came and passed without any apparent changes to T-Mobile, so mentally I let my guard down and deluded myself with the hope that things wouldn't change with T-Mobile.

This week they did.

Two months ago I purchased T-Mobile's mobile 4G hotspot, a convenient device which turns T-Mobile's 4G network into a wifi network that I can use to connect my laptop, or iPad to the speed of 4G internet wherever I go. It came with a great plan as well: if I bought the device I could pay month to month just like my phone, and never have to enter a contract. This particular type of plan has always appealed greatly to me because I'm the type of person who would rather just buy the device outright and then pay for the service month to month rather than entering a two year contract.

T-Mobile's hotspot plan sweetened the pot even further by giving me a discount since I was already a T-Mobile customer: I received a fairly significant 20% discount on the purchase of the device and every month I would receive a 20% discount on my bill.

The service also offered 5 gigabyte and 10 gigabyte unlimited plans. The basic concept is that if you sign up for the 5 gigabyte plan you get 5 gigabytes of data at the full download speed of 4G, and then after that your service is not cut off but it is significantly rate limited.

I set my device up with the 5 gigabyte plan, planning to try it out and see if the rate limiting would affect me enough for me to need to sign up for the better plan.

Fast forward two months and I discover that I need the 10 gigabyte plan. The first month when the rate limiting kicked in I barely noticed it. Sure I couldn't stream YouTube videos anymore, but it wasn't that bad for web browsing and my web based work which mostly just involves transferring plain text code files too and from my local machine and the servers of the startup I work for.

But recently the rate limiting has increased greatly. This month when I surpassed 5 gigabytes of bandwidth due to Mac OS X downloading system updates the bandwidth slowed dramatically to a mere trickle of about 10-20 kbps. So I headed to the local T-Mobile retail store, wallet at the ready, eager to give them my money for five extra gigabytes of data per month.

Imagine my surprise when the customer service representative told me that there was no way they could increase my plan to the next level without making me sign up for a two year contract. Needless to say this did not appeal to me and I told him so. He proceeded to make a call, apparently to some higher up customer service center, and they also said there was nothing that could be done. I had to sign up for a two year contract.

By the time the customer representative got off the phone I could see that he was even more frustrated than me. He told me that he was really irritated with the policy change, that it didn't make sense, and that he had already seen customers cancel their plans with T-Mobile over it. He said there was nothing he could do for me, and suggested that I call customer support myself, complain, and threaten to cancel my service as that was the only way that I might possibly be able to improve my plan without needing to sign a two year contract.

So I did.

I called T-Mobile customer support and explained what I needed: the 10 gigabyte per month plan which was advertised a mere two months ago when I bought my wireless hotspot and signed up for the 5 gigabyte plan. Once again the customer service agents explained that there was nothing they could do. In fact, one of them told me that if I wanted to change my cell phone plan I would also need to sign up for a two year contract. This is ridiculous. Historically T-Mobile has provided great flexible month to month plans. If I wanted to add more minutes I could very easily, and it was month to month.

Now T-Mobile is quietly doing away with its convenient and economical month to month plans and trying to force all its customers into contracts. In the T-Mobile retail store, where my conversation was not being recorded and monitored, the frustrated T-Mobile customer service representative told me outright that they were trying to increase the number of contracts because of the AT&T buy out.

And so the time has come for me to leave T-Mobile behind. Really, why would I stick with T-Mobile's plan when there are much better plans like a CLEAR mobile plan for the same price:

  • Unlimited data usage – no extra usage charges
  • No preset download speed cap
  • Upload speeds up to 1.5 Mbps
CLEAR offers me the same 4G internet, with no download speed cap no matter how much data I use. Best of all they offer the month to month service with no contract required, just like T-Mobile used to.

I really don't understand the logic behind T-Mobile's change. If AT&T is pushing T-Mobile to ruin their plans and make them as bad as AT&T plans they are just going to lose customers to the providers that are now better, like CLEAR.

So goodbye T-Mobile. I see no reason to stay with a service which won't let me increase my plan (hence paying you more money every month), without signing up for a two year contract. Probably the only reason they want me stuck in a two year contract is so that they can't lose me to the better service providers like CLEAR. With CLEAR I'll be able to use 10 gigabytes, or even 20 gigabytes of data if I need without having to worry about a download speed cap.

For the time being I'll keep my T-Mobile cell phone plan because I am grandfathered in, but if it comes to a point where I need to adjust my cell phone plan there is no way I'm going to sign up for a two year contract. Once again there are better month to month plans that won't tie me into a contract.

A message to AT&T and T-Mobile: If you want to keep your customers loyal to your service the way to do it is with exceptional service and great plans, not restrictive two year contracts. You are just shooting yourself in the foot.