Browsing Andrew Sullivan’s blog this morning, I decided to finally click one of his ads to see what it was. The specific ad I chose was for ListenBeforeYouVote.com. As you can see, the ad features John Kerry in a goofy pose with the tag line “He’s tall. He’s scary. He flip flops. Yeah, he’s an idiot.”, so I assumed it that the website sponsor would be some ridiculous, partisan hack who had an agenda othe than debating issues on merit. Every time I assume, I remember why it’s not a great idea. The truth here was worse than that. ListenBeforeYouVote.com turned out to be a ruse to ultimately redirect and attract new subscribers to Audible.com.
Last month, I rejoined Audible.com after an extended absence. I like the underlying concept and was ready to download new audiobooks to add to my collection. One of the most interesting aspects is the ability to download convention speeches and presidential debates, along with other miscellaneous speeches leading up to the election. This is a brilliant idea. It’s too bad Audible’s marketing department ruined all brilliance with this pathetic, partisan ad.
I’m going to contact them to get an explanation, to determine if they created any “George W. Bush is an idiot” ads. If they did, I’ll express my anger at the stupidity of targeting ads to audiences allegedly predisposed to the partisan sentiment expressed when the underlying product is meant to give the full political spectrum of information. If the Kerry ad is the only version, I’ll express my anger and cancel my subscription.
I’m already rethinking my plan. I’ll still contact Audible to express my anger, but I will cancel my subscription regardless of the answer. This is unacceptable. I don’t know if I’d feel the same way if the only ad was the “George W. Bush is an idiot” version, but I only have the information at hand, which mocks the candidate I support. I hope I’d feel the same way if the reverse had been true. I suspect I’d disagree with the marketing plan but wouldn’t be as upset about the sentiment since it matches my own. That doesn’t make it smart.
Businesses have the right to support any candidate they wish, but with that, the executives run the risk of alienating customers based on personal preference. Unless the business is privately held, the executives need to be certain that the shareholders are willing to take this risk. I’d love it if Audible.com would make the audio of the marketing meeting where this plan was hatched. That would be a brilliant tool for every college marketing class.
This ad is a perfect example of why it’s better for people who run businesses to use their own money to push their agenda. If they show me, the customer, that they’ll use my money to support something I abhor, I’ll take my money elsewhere. Welcome to the real world, Audible.