RUSH: We go to Boston. This is Terrence. Nice to have you with us, sir.
CALLER: Rush, I wanted to be nice, and I was pretty disturbed, and I wanted to get your opinion on this.
CALLER: Have you seen the new Lowe’s commercial?
RUSH: The new Lowe’s commercial. I don’t think so, but, you know —
CALLER: Let me tell you what it is. They got a couple on there, husband and wife, and they’re talking to a specialist, this woman, and every time the woman suggests something, the husband says, ‘It’s too hard. I can’t do it. I can’t do it. It’s too hard,’ and the woman specialist says, ‘Oh, you can do it.’ So finally at the end, the husband gives in, and says, ‘Honey, you were right. I was wrong.’ I was thinking, you know, this commercial’s really emasculating. I feel like all these shows and these commercials are out to make men look like boobs!
RUSH: I need to know something. You say it’s a commercial for Lowe’s?
RUSH: Lowe’s hardware. Oh, well! I knew that I needed to know a little more information. The first thing: advertising, I have always said, is a window on the soul of the country, because people who design advertising, the creative people that do it have to reach out and find a way to separate people from their money. Commercials have to be entertaining or informative, all those things, penetrating. They have to stand out. Now, the way I would interpret that is the dirty little secret in American commerce is that, particularly in married couples, the wives are the ones that spend the money.
CALLER: Right, but isn’t it the man — the guys gotta do all the work anyway?
RUSH: Well, that’s the joke of it. The joke is that the guy can’t do it, doesn’t want to do it. I’m not disputing your point, because I’ll guarantee you there’s a couple female creative people that put that together. It had to be. The husband’s a lug. The wife knows what to get done, what to buy and so forth, and she’s not going to do it. She’s going to teach him. ‘Oh, he can. Finally, he realizes he’s right,’ and of course the payoff line in that I think, and I haven’t seen it, is, ‘Honey, I was wrong.’ Everybody knows that that’s the fastest way out of trouble for any husband!
CALLER: Well, you know, my girlfriend saw nothing wrong with the commercial.
RUSH: Of course not.
CALLER: The more I thought about it, the more I thought, ‘This is absurd.’ I mean, ridiculous. It’s almost like two women against the one man, and he’s an idiot.
RUSH: Wait a minute. It may not be that absurd. That’s why this book, ‘The Dangerous Book for Boys,’ is out. More and more men are not learning the fix-it-up stuff, because it’s too manly. You know, they’re just not doing it, and women have been taking it over because it needs to get done, and of course it makes them feel empowered that they can do it too. ‘Look, I can find a garden hose and I know where to point it. Look, I can rake the leaves or what have you.’ I think there’s a lot of humor in that commercial, rather than an attempt to emasculate. I think it derives from the fact that whoever put that together already thinks that that circumstance exists. They’re trying to sell products, and if they’re going to do things that are going to offend a whole lot of people, it isn’t going to work.
CALLER: Well, do you think it’s a growing trend? Surely this isn’t the only commercial like that.
RUSH: Oh, the feminization of the culture? Yeah, no question about it.
CALLER: I mean, the fact is that now not only is it in TV shows and in books and in magazines, now it’s in advertising.
RUSH: It’s in the schools. That’s what I’m telling you: advertising is a window on the soul of America! Advertising will tell you what’s going on in a country. I study advertising. I don’t watch it. I study it. I have to watch it to study it, but I’m sophisticated enough to separate myself from the tricks, the marketing tricks. (interruption) I should shop at Home Depot?
CALLER: Do me a favor and keep an eye out for this commercial.
RUSH: I will. I don’t mean to be rude here, but the constraints of time are choking me here. I have to run.
CALLER: Not a problem.
RUSH: Thanks much. I’m sure we’ll be talking about this.
RUSH: I want to go back to this guy, Terrence, who called from Boston who was profoundly offend by the latest Lowe’s commercial which shows a man and his wife in there talking to a sales consultant about getting some stuff. I haven’t seen the commercial so I’m just repeating from memory what he told me. Everything the wife wants to get, the husband says, ‘No, no, no, no, I don’t know how to use that, no, no, no, no.’ The guy is made out to be a total buffoon, which is not uncommon in television advertising. Men have been buffoons, especially in beer commercials. If I see one more can of beer hit a guy in the groin, I mean, it’s not even funny anymore. Try that with a woman. Everybody sits around, laughs at this sort of stuff. Men have constantly been made buffoons. I mean the last real man in a television commercial I remember was Mr. Clean. He was animated, and what did he do? He cleaned the floor. Well, the Brawny towel guy, that’s right, and of course the Marlboro man. That’s a different thing altogether. I think one of the things, and I mean this when I tell you, advertising is a window on the soul of America.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am in the advertising business, and as such, over the many years here, there’s no advertisement that works on me. Well, I can’t say that. There’s some that have worked on me, but I stand back and study these things for what they tell me sociologically and culturally. I am not susceptible to the tricks and the come-ons that are in advertising because I know the business. I know what I want before I see it advertised anyway. But I think most people watch commercials and just watch ’em for what they are, their entertainment value. Look at the Super Bowl. It’s almost as popular for the commercials as it is for the game, especially if the game is a stinko, then the commercials do become the primary attraction. Now, if this woman knows how to fix the house up and the guy doesn’t, then what that tells me is the people that put the commercial together have done some research and found out that’s going to relate to a whole lot of couples. Lowe’s is in the business of selling stuff, not offending the customer base. In their mind as they go to production, they’re not going to produce a commercial that is unrepresentative of truth unless it’s an obvious satire.
So one of the things this commercial could have been doing, and we’re searching for the audio of this now. I don’t know if we’ll find it because we normally don’t record commercials here at the EIB Network, but Joe is looking for it. If we find it, we’ll play it for you. I want to hear it myself, too, I’m somewhat intrigued by it, but I think this could be speaking to men’s aspirations. Now, wait a minute. I’m telling you from the Lowe’s perspective on this, Snerdley. Snerdley told me during the break, he thought the guy, Terrence from Boston, was right on the money, and you’re sick and tired of the way men are portrayed here as helpless buffoons and linguini-spined little wusses. How many times can they get wrapped around their wives’ little finger kind of guys, you’re fed up with that. But this could have been appealing from the Lowe’s standpoint to men’s aspirations. They want to be able to fix things but they aren’t sure they know how, and they don’t want to be embarrassed in front of the girl. They don’t want to be embarrassed in front of the woman. They don’t want to look dumb by screwing it up. The commercial, actually from the Lowe’s standpoint, Lowe’s could say, ‘Hey, look at the ending of our commercial. This commercial affirms that men can learn to fix things.’
Now, that’s kind of insulting itself, but given where we are in our culture today, who knows. I guarantee you they’re not producing the commercial to make people mad. If they find out that it’s done that, they might cancel. I don’t know how representative Terrence from Boston is on this, but, anyway, advertising is a fascinating thing to study. Try it. The next time you’re watching television, don’t zip past commercials and don’t get up, just watch ’em and take yourself out of them from the standpoint of a customer or somebody they’re trying to reach. I was in marketing for the Kansas City Royals once, sales and marketing. We had a marketing plan, and we put it together every off season. Off season for marketing people and salespeople is the busiest time, if they work for a professional sports franchise. And every year, the local media would call up, ‘What’s the marketing plan?’ ‘We’re not going to tell you. We’re not going to give people a heads-up. We’re just going to execute the plan. We’re not going to sit here and tell you what we’re going to do so you can go out and prepare people to insulate themselves from the plan.’ The plan is the plan, it could be sprung on people and it’s designed to work when they don’t know it’s coming. We don’t even think of it as a marketing plan, but that to me was one of the fascinating things about it, was how can we, in our case, improve attendance?
We quickly decided that there are too many baseball fans out there to prospect for rather than spend time going out and find people who aren’t. So the objective became, find people that go once or twice and find a way to get them to come four or five times, and that’s how you bump up the attendance. You can send people out in the community and say, ‘Are you a big baseball fan?’ ‘No.’ ‘Well, you ought to be. Let me tell you why.’ Waste of time. Baseball’s been around a long time. If somebody doesn’t like it, they don’t like it, and they’re not a prospect. With Lowe’s, Home Depot or whatever, they’ve got their specific products to sell and they put a lot of research into these commercials. So you just sit there and watch the next time you have the television on, watch the commercials and separate yourself from it as a consumer and try to figure out what the commercial tells you about what the company running it thinks of America, because that’s what they’re trying to do is have that commercial work on you. And of course the anti-capitalists hate this because they think that we already buy too much stuff, and that markets are based too much on consumerism. So they have their own way of insulating themselves from it. (interruption) What? Well, political ads are the same way. But it depends on the season of the political ad. The primary season, political ads are run for a specific unit and that’s the base of the party in question. Then you get the general election and this is probably more applicable, plus they’re regional characteristics involved. We’re talking national advertising here.