Saturday, May 27, 2006

Hurry! Take advantage of our dead-GI discount!

You'll recall that, after receiving Tony Robbins' Mother's Day appeal, I asked, more or less, "is nothing sacred?" to these people. I think we have our answer.

"Celebrate Memorial Day with Tony Robbins" reads the subject line of a breathless solicitation I received just yesterday. (I should probably repeat that I continue to get these offerings because I signed up for Tony's message boards way back when I began researching SHAM.) Now let me be clear about the title I chose for this post: Robbins does not, of course, say that, or anything remotely like it, anywhere in his offering. There are merely "Special Enrollment Offers!", which you must "Hurry" to receive, because the sale "ends Monday, 5/29." There are also deep discounts available for upcoming Robbins personal appearances in six cities. In fact, Robbins doesn't specifically reference Memorial Day at all, once you get past the subject line.

And that's a large part of my grievance here: the cheap, easy, bolt-on marketing slant. I grant you, Memorial Day is a huge retail event across the land, so maybe it's a tad harsh to hold Robbins to a higher standard than other merchandisers throughout America-the-Commercial. But... "Celebrate Memorial Day with Tony Robbins"? I guess it's the celebrate/with that bugs me. Because, first of all, you're not going to celebrate Memorial Day "with" Robbins or anyone else from his company. The seminars don't take place for some time yet, and even if you order the merch in CD/videotape format, it won't get there in time to enrich your Memorial Day. Nonetheless, I think TR's choice of words was calculated. (If the guy is known for anything at all, it's the precision of his language.) Robbins wanted that folksy, community-type feeling; he wanted the overtones of patriotism inherent in this particular holiday (just as he wanted the nostalgic sweetness surrounding Mother's Day). He wanted to attach all that to his product, and himself.

Secondly, this isn't like advertising an iPod or a can of paint. As per the words of the master himself, a Robbins program is designed to teach you how to think about things--yourself, the world around you, etc. There's also a high inspirational component, which is why many devotees have compared the experience to "going to church." And yet if you actually do go to church at some point this weekend, I'm sure the services will pause to note the contributions of America's military. Almost certainly the homilies spoken from the pulpit will be themed to Memorial Day, acknowledging the high price paid by America's defenders and warriors. Not so, Tony. Nowhere in the body of his latest promotion is there even a token nod to this solemn occasion, or what it signifies. He's using Memorial Day as a prop to sell his usual content...just another excuse to put his name in my inbox, and the inboxes of the millions of others who are registered on his site.

I think the word here is "tacky," to say the least.

3 comments:

Mike said...

Very tacky is right. First of all, you don't "celebrate" Memorial day at all. It is a day to remember and honor. One would "commemorate" Memorial Day, NOT "celebrate."

You are so right - shameful.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit I was put off by your title. But now that I read the post itself I agree with Mike, this is shameful. It's another example of how these people will do and say anything for money.

Rodger Johnson said...

Tacky? Yes, absolutely!