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The Bargain
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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We usually don't cover the themes of Mad Men episodes here, but we thought a certain point was made during the last episode that was too good to forget.

When Don had his "epiphany" in his office and called Peggy and her sidekick in, Don talked about the relationship between the entertainment, the advertising, and the consumer.

The consumer watches the entertainment for free because it is part of the bargain that because the entertainment is free (or much less than it would cost without corporate support), the consumer has to sit through the advertising. 

What a true statement.

What if we approached the public with that sentiment? Instead of consumers thinking that they are being bombarded with unsolicited advertising, we let them know that advertising is part of the bargain you entered in the minute you began receiving this good or service. Want free or affordable news? Advertising helps pay for it. Want affordable cable or satellite TV, or streaming capability? Brought to you by advertising. Advertising and the brands that engage in it are the ultimate underwriters of our consumption-based society.

Want that to change? Open up your wallets and pay the real price.

Soon, though, this theory will be tested. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) has introduced a bill that will shake up the bargain relationship. His bill suggests breaking up the cable industry's channel bundling, and force them to offer "channel a la carte" pricing. This will ultimately decrease audience size, the advertising base, therefore increasing the price per channel. But, defying economics, consumer groups are actually for this.

They'll get what they'll pay for.

Of course, because of the size of the cable and satellite lobbies, this is highly unlikely to pass. But, if companies started to offer this, it would be a fantastic case study to show the power and influence of advertising. How willing will consumers be to pay full-price for the programming they take for granted? Would it not be worth to spend an extra five minutes with advertising in exchange of paying less for it?

Give them the option. Let's see how consumers truly feel. Only then will we (and they) see the power of our bargain.


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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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