Posted on October 29, 2018
by Steve Janowick
It’s Sunday in October. The wife and kids just left to go shopping and I’ve got the place to myself. The cheesesteak is ordered and on its way. The Dorito bag is already open on the table. The first beer is out of the fridge and in my hand as I finally sit down on the couch to catch my Ravens cap off a 94-yard drive with a Flacco touchdown pass to Crabtree. Life is good! Now comes the worst part of this revered, weekly tradition-the dreaded TV break.
The first commercial aired is one for Walmart-a company that is more synonymous with middle-America than probably any other. A company whose usual target demographic is the red-state, working stiff trying to save a buck. Now, I’m no marketing expert, but I can say with a bit of certainty that the guy they have playing the lead in this spot-isn’t him. This guy wakes up in his chic, sun-soaked, urban home. His disheveled, curly locks and minimalist, retro glasses go perfect with his plaid pj bottoms and ironic t-shirt. While reading to his perfectly beautiful, mixed-race kids, he gets the bright idea of making his wife breakfast in bed. He then throws on his oversized robe over his skinny frame, jumps into his safe, Subaru wagon and heads to that bastion of hipster proclivities…uhhh…Walmart?
So what gives? Why the cave in? Why in the world would Walmart decide in this campaign, a campaign that’s running during an NFL game mind you, to abandon Joe Six pack for Peter Pajama Boy? Certainly not a bad guy, of course. But a guy, nonetheless, who certainly doesn’t represent blue-collar sensibilities and who probably thinks an extra point is something awarded in debate class.
The answer is simple and obvious in today’s hyper-sensitive climate. With the pendulum swinging further left every day to appease a very vocal, very passionate, progressive crowd that loathes and often vilifies traditional values, hipster-guy servers a vital purpose to companies and ad agencies. He is benign and safe! Just pick any disenfranchised group du jour in 2018 and he puts them right at ease. His lack of masculinity is non-threatening to pro-women advocates, his ambiguous ethnicity makes immigrants feel welcomed, his androgynous tendencies appease the LGBT community and his gentle disposition makes minorities feel safe. He checks all the boxes. Of course, these are all very positive things that every human would want to feel. But in this case, they are yielded by a contrived manipulation from a company that is just putting its figurative finger in the air to gauge the current human condition.
So, be damned truth and honesty in advertising. Taking a little financial hit by missing out on your real target audience is way less of a long-term risk to Walmart than stoking the incendiary flames of the PC mob by aligning with ‘right-winger types’. But this certainly isn’t exclusive to Walmart. This is an unfortunate trend that every company seems to be succumbing to, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere anytime soon. From phones to fashion and computers to cars, hipster guy is here to stay.
But, thankfully, we still have the mute button and bathroom breaks when he gets on our nerves too much.
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