Buy (Buy…Buy…)

Today’s writing prompt: Tell us about the last thing a person or advertisement convinced you to buy.

Advertising is all around us: TV commercials, radio spots, movie trailers, billboards, posters, print ads, stadium and arena names, sponsorships, etc. It would be easy to argue that almost every purchase we make is the end result of advertising somewhere along the way.

That said, because advertising is so pervasive, so ingrained in our lives, that most of us would be hard pressed to identify specific items that advertising directly convinced us to buy. It is actually much easier to recall when advertising influenced when we bought something that we were already aware of—for example, the Kindle I bought last year when Amazon knocked $50 off the price for a day.

However, there is one purchase I remember making specifically because I saw an advertisement: a Panasonic DVD recorder. It was 2003. One night, while I was watching TV, I saw the following commercial:

That was probably the height of my interest in Kevin Smith’s “View Askewniverse”, so I was immediately hooked. It helped that I had a bunch of VHS cassettes that would be much more convenient to have on disc—but, let’s face it, it was the silliness of Kevin Smith luxuriating on a platform covered with DVDs that made me say, “I want this.” I immediately ordered one from Costco. I think it cost about $500.

Of course, after the initial burst of VHS-to-DVD dubbing activity, I stopped using it all that much. While having the recording capability was awesome, the process itself often failed to go all that smoothly. Recording would stop part way through for some unknown reason, rendering the disc unusable, or the disc might fail to finalize—rendering the disc unusable. Eventually, the recorder settled into a new role as the DVD player in our bedroom. (It was supplanted a few years later by a second-hand Pioneer DVD player that was handed down to us by my then wife’s boss.)

The last real use I got out of the recorder was a year ago, as I was preparing to move out of the house so we could sell it. I wanted to get rid of the boxes of VHS cassettes I had accumulated over the last 20 years, so I wouldn’t have to schlep them from place to place and figure out where to keep them. During the last few weeks of the year, I dubbed as much of my remaining VHS library as I could—definitely putting the DVD recorder through its paces.

I finally got rid of the thing this last spring, when I discovered that it was no longer capable of playing many of the DVDs I had used it to record. Having got rid of the Pioneer DVD player that would have had no problems playing them, I resorted to going out and buying an inexpensive Sony DVD player.

As for the Panasonic? I donated it to Goodwill. Even if it was no longer so hot as a recorder, it was still just fine for playing regular DVDs.

Either way, that’s the last purchase I made based solely on an advertisement.

(25 November 2013)

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