A Plastic World

While watching TV in the break room over lunch, a commercial came on, and a coworker commented on how much the new Visa ad campaign annoyed him. I wholeheartedly agreed, and appreciated that someone else noticed.

Watch this one installment in the campaign and see why they annoy me so much:

Another installment is here.

What's the message here? Use your credit card for everything. As my coworker put it, "If you use cash, you're a square". The commercials show crowds of people having fun and buying iPods, toys and diamond pendants, and I'm shocked that they'd suggest using plastic to buy food. That's one thing you hopefully can afford upfront, and don't need to put on a credit card. This runs directly contrary Dave Ramsey's "envelope system" that I've mentioned before that we try to follow.

It's obvious though, why Visa runs these ads. They show lots and lots of very happy people, shopping without restraint. And the ease of it! If Visa's customers did the same thing, the customers would surely carry balances on their cards, and the credit card company gets to collect the exorbitant interest each month. There's also the crowd factor- everyone uses credit cards and shops without restraint- you don't want to be the one party pooper, do you? I've appreciated a group of bloggers who are dedicated to saving money rather than spending it, and talk about good financial practices all the time- over at Frugal Hacks. That is the crowd I want to be a part of!


Brett said...

But you'll be missing out on the synchronized credit card fun!

Seriously, that commercial bothers me a lot, too. The glamorizing of an industry that profits (profits a lot!) from people buying things for which they don't have the money doesn't sit well. I'm sure someone could make the argument that "they pay off the credit card each month" so it doesn't hurt anything to use it. We ran with that plan for 8+ years but we eventually deciding the big cashback bonus wasn't worth it. I guess we figured scoring a Border's gift card once a year probably wasn't the greatest long term plan for savings.

Speaking of horrible commercials, have you seen the latest one from Toys 'R' Us? I've been unable to find it online but it involves a little girl asking something about "anyone that wants to shop for more toys, raise their hand". The camera pans around to the horrendous number of toys that the girl already has and all their hands are raised. Ouch.

Matt said...

I'm surprised that People magazine, Tic Tacs, Energizer, and the company that makes those tiny pamphlets of crossword puzzles and horoscopes haven't started making some ads to counter those. Think of how much of their sales depend on people being stuck in a slow line.

I also don't like the tone of the commercials. But I still do use a check card for everything, including food, because trying to anticipate when I'll need cash and how much I'll need is just not worth the hassle. It doesn't mean I haven't budgeted in advance for it... I just don't carry that much cash on me.

Here's a good anti-Visa commercial idea. Show some crooks sneaking along very carefully with big bags of cash, and then another crook with a credit card goes running past them and right into a circle of police cars. After he gets arrested, the guys with cash sneak away and give each other a high five. Take that, Speedy McChargeCard!

Brett said...

Oh yeah, we still use the check/debit card. It's nice in that you don't have to carry cash but you still have a lot of the same fraud protection you'd have with a normal Visa or MC. The difference, though, is that there's no big company loaning you money to buy coffee, a Matchbox car, or whatever. And, yes, using a credit card is a loan. It doesn't matter that it's easy and preapproved...it's still a loan.

Just because it's easy and preapproved, it's still a loan.
As for the commercial, I'd add this bit where the credit card thief is briefly blinded by the police car lights reflecting off the holographic security label on the card. While he's stunned, he actually runs right into a parked police car. Also, a K-9 unit would bite him in the leg.

Matt said...

And the cop is Dave Ramsey.

James Kubecki said...

Not to nitpick, and Matt has sort of alluded to this, but the commercial is actually not for a credit card which earns any interest for the companies, but for the check card, which would be the equivalent of a debit card.

Granted, using this still costs the store a fee paid to Visa, but it costs the consumer nothing (directly) and is still paying for it "up front."

What would be really sweet would be "subaccounts" on check cards, so that you could do something like the envelope system, and get prompted when you buy something for which "envelope" the money should come out of. (If not actual separate subaccounts, at least a flag on your bank statement showing spending from various "buckets" would be nice.)

Melissa said...

I have a problem with people using more money then they have or maxing out a credit card thinking that money is "theirs".

But that said, I use a debit card and sometimes a credit card for almost everything. The debit card obviously takes money out already, and as for the credit card, I pay it off every month. It's just easier than trying to shuffle around with cash. I keep a little bit of cash in my wallet for emergencies.

I like james' idea of subaccounts for a check card. That would be cool.

Brett said...

My mistake on actual product of the commercial.

Though, in my defense, the fact that it's a check card isn't mentioned until the last second of the ad. I believe the term "Check Card" is mentioned once in the voice over and and it's printed on the actual card when it's shown in the closing shot. Up until that point, all I see is Visa. When I think "Visa", I think "Credit Card." As I said, my mistake. I would wonder, though, how many others just see it as an advertisement for Visa rather than the Visa Check Card.

James, you're more observant than I.

Joanna said...

As for me, I don't have sound at my computer, so I didn't hear anyone say "check card"- I could have read the card in the very last scene more closely. I didn't remember what the announcer said from seeing it yesterday on the TV. The commercial seemed to be advertising credit cards, and that's what the impression was of the viewers yesterday over lunch, too, as we had our discussion. Sorry for the confusion

Becca said...

Same here. I thought it was for just a CC as well. I'm pretty sure they're wanting to advertise their name here.

Crazy trying to make cash look not cool!!

ashley @ twentysixcats said...

I hate that commercial too!

Rachel said...

Hmmm... I'm not a fan of these commercials because they are annoying, but I can't say I completely agree that credit/debit cards are evil. No, I don't think they should be pushed as the only way to pay because some people really aren't good with them but yet I don't believe they are intrinsically evil. I have used credit and debit cards almost exclusively for the past 6 years (obviously there are exceptions where cash is the only thing taken) and have never paid a cent in interest. We budget and I spend appropriately, and then am happy to accept cash back from a card that I pay off every week so I never pay them anything.

But yes, if there are commercials in this series that promote buying diamonds and IPods and other unnecessary and expensive consumer items, I agree that it's encouraging people to overspend because they want it, they deserve it, and VISA will pay for it for them, right?


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