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Author Topic: Watching them watching us
Mr. Magoo
Babbler # 3469

posted 03 March 2004 03:47 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
A few days ago Mrs. Magoo got a phone call from a person asking if she might be willing to watch, and give her opinion on, a new sitcom being developed. If she did, she was told, she'd be entered in a draw to win a package of prizes. She agreed, and the caller told her that a videotape of the sitcom pilot, along with a few questionnaires, would be couriered to her. They arrived yesterday.

The tape itself is clearly marked "SPECIAL TAPE. DO NOT REWIND", and the enclosed literature makes it clear that the tape should not be rewound or fast-forwarded, as it's a special tape that will erase itself as it plays. We can, thus, only watch this exciting new pilot once. Because of this, Mrs. M. waited until I got home from work last night so we could watch it together.

The first of three questionnaires was to be filled out before watching the pilot, and consisted of products, such as air fresheners, orange juice, light bulbs, etc., and we were asked to select the one brand from a group (such as one brand of film from among several choices) that we would like to receive in our prize package, should we win. OK. I circle the products I'd like (while also thinking that if someone ever sent me light bulbs, even my choice of light bulbs, as a "prize" they'd be picking glass out of their shorts for a week).

Then we watch the tape. It's a sitcom called "Dads", about three divorced dads. It co-stars four annoyingly precocious children, and Rue McLanahan as a dayschool owner with a bad German accent. And even though this is supposedly a pilot for a sitcom in development, it had commercials. Needless to say, since the pilot was on the Special Magic Tape, we couldn't fast forward. Smelling the rat yet? Would you, if I told you that one of the commercials, for a new type of Febreze, was also a product in our "prize booklet"?

At the conclusion of this horrid, horrid show, we had another two booklets to fill out.

The first asks questions about the show. Who did we like, who didn't we like, should they emphasize plot development or character development. All distractors, and thus irrelevant, but regardless, Mrs. Magoo slagged this show hard, just to be safe. If our response were the sole response, the makers of Dads would be beaten on the soles of their feet.

The final booklet was similar to the first, but with a few different product types. The Febreze product was among the air fresheners this time, and I made certain to 'choose' the same products after watching the show as I did before, including my personal choice of "Lysol original" in the air freshener category.

We also found a few testimonials on the web from people who've participated in this "survey"... enough to know ahead of time that the followup interview is going to waste Mrs. M.'s time with some irrelevant questions about the pilot, then focus entirely on the commercials we saw in the middle.

They're supposed to phone Mrs. Magoo today to ask her about the sitcom. We debated into the night as to how she should respond. Choices include:

1. Tell them to go fuck themselves for not being even slightly honest. Remind them that a longshot chance in a draw for lightbulbs and orange juice is not a prize. Tell them about being paid reasonably for our help in focus groups, who, incidentally, looked us in the eye.

2. Maintain, adamantly, that our tape had no commercials, therefore we can't discuss the commercials we didn't see.

3. Insist that their Special Tape cornholed our VCR, and they'd be hearing from our lawyer.

4. Be as obstinate and dense as possible on the phone; eat up their time ("Could you repeat that question?") and in the end give totally random answers and be done with it.

5. Insist on discussing ONLY the television show; ask questions about its release date, whether there's a "Dads" fan club or website, gush about Rue's horrible accent, etc.

6. Tell them, in a sad voice, that we accidentally fast forwarded and erased the tape before we could even see the pilot (the tape is normal, and they know this, but would they be so honest as to admit that?)

6a. If they admit that the tape is normal, and the crap about no fast forwarding was just a ruse to ensure we watched the commercials, act hurt. "How could you lie to me like that? I thought we were friends?"

7. Deny any knowledge of "Dads". Insist that our tape was a pilot for a show called "Those Wonky Gimps" and express our disgust at them.

8. Tell them we loved "Dads" so much we digitized it and put it in our Kazaa directory. "We couldn't, in good conscience, deny others the same entertainment we so joyously received. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU."

9. Claim to work for a competing marketing association & express our gratitude for the juiciest piece of corporate intel we've had in weeks.

10. Tell them that they were as transparent as a jellyfish, and the fact that we knew what they were up to from the get-go makes us a bad data point.

Any other suggestions?

From: `,_,`,_,,_,, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 888

posted 03 March 2004 03:53 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I pick #2.
From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 560

posted 03 March 2004 03:55 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
All of the above!

I was laughing so hard at this that my boss was wondering how my work could possibly be so entertaining.

From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 1675

posted 03 March 2004 03:59 PM      Profile for redshift     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Ask for an address to return their material to , tell them they're legally required to accept return of their material. i made that up, but it sounds reasonable.
go out and buy a cheap VHS tape, record a sampling of what you would rather be doing than watching their crap. make up an approriate prize package of garbage that their products contribute to landfill sites and send it all along to a high ranking PR desk jockey from the applicable company.
an exercise in non-symmetrical consumer counter-attack.might be fun

From: cranbrook,bc | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
Willowdale Wizard
Babbler # 3674

posted 03 March 2004 04:04 PM      Profile for Willowdale Wizard   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
6 ... then 10.
From: england (hometown of toronto) | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged

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