My name is Betty. I’m 94. I was born in 1923, lived through the Great Depression as a young girl, and waited with bated breath as my husband fought in World War II. This had a profound effect on my life, and his.
We had a good life, though. Money was tight, but we were blessed in so many ways.
I gave birth to a beautiful son who then grew to have kids of his own. Some of my grandchildren have already had kids of their own, too. My grandchildren (and great-grandchildren) are everything to me. Every time I see their faces, I see the hope of an entire generation. I see my mom and my dad. I hear my siblings in their laughter. Their hugs warm my heart and remind me of the vigor that I used to have.
I’m telling you all of this so you get to know me. Because I’m not the typical customer advertisers talk to these days. I’m not a millennial or even a baby boomer. I don’t use the internet frequently. I still watch cable.
But I matter.
Each holiday season, I get ready to buy my family gifts. I can’t afford much, and my limited dollars have to go a long way. And while there are other ways to show my love, I still love spoiling them as much as I can. I want to give them the world and more. I want them to think of me and smile whenever they use their gift next year.
So, I take my time in picking out these presents. I pick them out with love, with care, with attention. I put effort into getting just the right thing.
But you make it difficult.
You see, Mr. Advertiser, I don’t trust you. You’ve lied to me.
I don’t believe that a reverse mortgage is truly a good deal for me. I don’t believe that a mattress is going to solve all of my sleeping troubles and that I can only get it this weekend. I don’t believe that medication is really going to help my heart, or that the cell phone you want me to get really comes with a valuable plan. I don’t believe that if I don’t get it, I won’t be able to connect with my family.
But you insist on using my hopes, dreams and fears against me. You carefully select your words to walk that fine line between a lie and less of a lie. Your ads promise so much, and you deliver so little.
And so when you advertise to me this holiday season as I’m looking for gifts for my family, I don’t trust you.
I may not understand the internet the way your target market does, but I do understand you. I know you don’t have my best interests in mind.
I understand you have business goals. I know money matters.
But my name is Betty, and I matter, too.
What would happen if you stepped back for a minute and thought about me? About my hopes, dreams and way of life? About my family, who I love and want to spend time with this Christmas?
What would happen if you told me the truth? If you thought about how you could actually help me, or my family, with your products?
What would happen if you used your own grandmother as a litmus test for your actions? My guess is, you’d probably behave much better.
My generation understood life was more than the next thing in front of them. My generation believed in people and relationships. We believed that a person’s word meant something. We saw suffering and rose above it. We understood honor and sacrifice and compassion.
My name is Betty, and I matter.
The question is, do you understand that?