Daily Life

DVDs as Lottery Ticket

Seth Godin had a good post today stating that Gift Cards are for Chumps. First, I would state that the term “chump” is vastly underutilized, so I’m glad to see it. Second is what I feel is his more important point: Christmas has become a holiday about shopping, not about giving.

I’ve noticed that the purpose behind purchases made with disposable income has changed. I first reached Seth’s point with my own eyes while discussing Christmas gifts with my wife. She was not happy that I have an Amazon wish list of things I really want. She felt that there was no surprise if I got items off my wish list, and that’s when I got the bulb over my head – I said “I’m really not into being surprised, and if I got everything on that list I’d be happy – so really this is about what you want to feel about giving me a gift.” Being a smart husband I left out the logical extension of this arguement – You want to try and surprise me with a great gift I don’t know about, even at the risk of getting me something I don’t want.

The sad thing is that I also realized I do this to myself. One day after buying a DVD at Best Buy I came home and realized I was throwing it on a pile of about a dozen other DVDs I haven’t gotten around to watching yet. Again the bulb lit up – I was not buying the DVD to watch it, I was laying down money for the fantasy of me actually sitting down to have a quiet night of Jet Li goodness. DVDs are no different than lottery tickets, I’m paying for the dream not reality.

So, what’s the Marketing punchline here? One is what I think of as a sad one – the culture of selling crap that nobody REALLY needs has no end in sight. The other is that maybe some people will stand up and do something worthwhile for the holidays rather than buying more crap that will end up in the landfill by the summer.

If you are in the Boston area I highly recommend both the MATCH School and the Franciscan Hospital for Children. Now where’s that Swarovski Crystal I need to wrap for Carin…

One reply on “DVDs as Lottery Ticket”

Mr Wall-

I really enjoyed this post. Last year we had a similar experience. We spent our marriage wanting to make money. Working our tails off to buy STUFF. Now we are in a phase of getting rid of stuff. I cant walk in my garage. We also stopped buying shwag for our clients. Instead we loan money to who gives that money to businesses in developing countries. They pay it back and it changes their lives.

I also started producing a podcast for them and also helping them by interviewing the actual businesses, not for the podcast but for Kiva.orgs media library. Defiantly an eye opener when I ask these people in Kenya, Ukraine, Mexico etc what these loans of $25+ American dollars has done for them… they say, we eat better, my children can go to school, my business is growing, my standard of life is better.

I like your idea. “maybe some people will stand up and do something worthwhile for the holidays”

Here is another way besides the charities your recommended: Check out find a business you like, loan a few bucks instead of buying that thumb drive or gift card to best buy for your friends, coworkers or clients. Include a picture to the person who receives your gift of the people/business you are helping and follow it up with what happened a few months later. I guarantee that it will spark conversation and good feelings all around. I think it might even work for the Scrooge on your list. 🙂 (no promises)

Sorry this isn’t much about Marketing comment, but if one person loans Mr.Wall you and I will have a tad bit more Karma in our pots. And that cant hurt. Happy Holidays to all and to all a good night.

Your friend


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