Waste Of Money

This week the World Health Organization released “shocking” results confirming that, yes Virginia Slims, second hand smoke causes cancer. Really. Not to be too sarcastic, but in the words of Denis Leary: “These things are bad for you?!? …I thought they were good for you! I thought they had Vitamin C in them and stuff!”

What amazes me is that we’re still spending money on this type of research. It’s not like we don’t already know smoking and cancer are linked, the evidence has been piling up since the “Cancer by the Carton” article appeared in Reader’s Digest fifty years ago. People are starving halfway around the world, and we’re spending money dissecting the implications of smoking with such forensic detail that had the same been done with the invention of fire, we’d only just have wrapped up the research necessary to safely conclude that it was hot and burned things. Haven’t we got other, more important, things to spend money on?

Of course, as I say this most of the world is mobilizing the most advanced communications technology for the purpose intently watching twenty-two men kick a ball around a field, or some guy put a small ball in a hole. Sports. It’s always about men and their balls, and money is no object.

And it’s not like governments are faring any better. Just this week the US House of Representatives approved H. Res. 269, which states:

“That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the life and achievements of Antonio Meucci should be recognized, and his work in the invention of the telephone should be acknowledged.”

Sure, the US Government can’t come up with a way to reduce pollution, but there’s plenty of time to spend taxpayers’ money to debate a bill to recognize Meucci, despite the fact that doing so has very little impact on the world at large.

Every day it becomes a little more apparent that mankind is doomed to destroy itself because we’re too stupid/under motivated to actually get off our asses and do anything about it. That said, it’s time to go home and do nothing all weekend.

Attention Advertisers!

Yesterday I received yet another “pre-approved” credit card application in the mail from Royal Bank. The same Royal Bank that I’ve instructed two times in the last six months to remove my name from their mailing list, in addition to the “do not contact me” checkbox on my application for a Group RRSP account with my old employer that I signed over a year ago. Apparently they just don’t get it. I’m not interested. I never have been interested. I never will be interested. Advertisers: Stop wasting your time, my time, and a whole forest in your pathetic attempt at “direct” marketing.

In the last six months, I’ve received no less than ten un-addressed pre-approved credit card applications from Capital One. Ten. Do they think I just overlooked these things? Was I desperate for credit but just so incredibly inept that I couldn’t figure out how to mail an application?

The amusing/annoying part is when you try to do these companies a favour and notify them you’re not interested. Capital One, for example, doesn’t actually provide an email address or direct phone number to contact to have your name removed. Instead, they hide the information on how to get removed at the bottom of the mailing address page on their web site. It appears that Capital One is especially dedicated to wasting their money advertising to people who aren’t interested. I wonder what the company’s investors would think about that?

There is an easier way (sort of) to get your name removed from these lists through the Canadian Marketing Association‘s Do Not Contact registrar. Unfortunately, this will only eliminate the mail from those companies that are members of the CMA. And last time I checked, most of my junk mail comes from local realtors, pizza shops, Chinese restaurants, et cetera. Guess how many of them are CMA members? That’s right, zero!

What amazes me most about advertisers is how they blindly blast people with ads for stuff they would never buy, even if they had the money. Personally, I’d be happy to tell advertisers everything about me if it would guarantee that the only companies that advertised to me were ones that sold something I actually wanted to buy. But then again, I guess that runs counter to the purpose of advertising.

In this day and age, why are advertisers still relying on Neanderthal techniques to determine who to target for “direct” marketing? Canada Post offers a service that allows bulk mailers to “target” postal walks, based on the assumption that a person’s living area is a great indicator of what a person will buy. Just because I live in a trendy area doesn’t mean I’m interesting in buying or selling a condo, obtaining a platinum card, or buying an SUV. People are more than blips on the demographic radar, and it’s time advertisers learned to stop trying to hard sell people who just don’t care about what they’re selling.