Self-deprecation is a healthy sign of humanity.
If you’re at least aware of your more grotesque inadequacies and hypocrisies, there’s hope that, somewhere deep inside, you may still have space for empathies.
I did wonder the other night, though, whether self-deprecation can enjoy a somewhat damaging side.
There I was watching a deeply pulsating NBA Finals game when up popped an ad I had to see twice in order to facilitate complete digestion.
The ad began like this: “Hi. We’re Visible. A different kind of wireless company.”
On the screen, though, was the company’s full name: Visible by Verizon.
Indeed, the voice continued by adding that Visible was “started by a big, impressive wireless company.”
You’d think, then, that Visible would go on to talk about how it’s nice being owned by this big, impressive wireless company.
Instead, the voice sneers: “How are we different? Well, big wireless companies have thousands of stores. So. Many. Stores.”
But Visible, you just told us that Verizon is a big impressive wireless company. It has quite a few stores. They employ some very nice people. Not all of them are always happy.
For Visible, though, the truth must be revealed: “Those companies have to pay for them. Which means you have to pay for them.”
Goodness gracious. Is this Verizon-owned company trying to tell you that Verizon stores simply aren’t worth it and that they’re merely a means to charge elevated prices?
That seems to be the case. Visible trumpets that it doesn’t have stores. Presumably, then, when your phone goes wrong, you have to ask the kid down the street who mows lawns in order to pay for his weed.
Some might wonder whether Visible’s corporate bosses got wind of this ad before it breezed its way onto America’s screens.
Some might also wonder whether this is Verizon’s thinly veiled attempt to tell its store employees that their positions are extremely fragile.
Some might even wonder whether Verizon intends to shut its stores and make the non-store everything’s-online offering its standard.
Visible, then; maybe it’s a trojan horse sneaking in to save its parent company so much money.
I wonder how many Verizon customers watched this ad and noticed the uncomfortable juxtaposition between seeing the Verizon name writ fairly large and the slight contempt shown for its customer service offering.
Because the implication is, surely, that this customer service really isn’t necessary.
Then again, this mocking of Verizon’s own offerings has been the strategy for some time. Last Christmas, Visible mocked family phone plans.
Perhaps it’s heartening that a carrier has finally come out and said: “We admit it. We’ve been conning y’all for long enough.”