Recession marketing gets obnoxious

iStockThings are taking a turn for the worse.  No, I’m not talking about the economy; I’m talking about the marketing about the economy.

As is often the case, it starts with a good thing.  In this case, it was the brilliant Hyundai Assurance program (kudos to IPG’s Initative folks for that one).  A great idea, the program really spoke to the concerns that the country was having at the time.  It decreased the risk in buying one of the key big ticket items.  Many other car companies followed suit.  And until now, this was all a good thing.

Now Virgin Mobile is bringing the concept to wireless companies with their “Pink Slip Protection” offering. 

With Virgin’s plan, losing a job nets the subscriber three months of service free.  And, in my humble opinion, it’s a bit excessive.

While a newly unemployed person might seriously regret buying a new car, unemployed people still have cell phones.  They may instead give up other media, such as drop a landline, or cancel cable and just watch  So this protection plan isn’t really a functional offering, it’s a kitschy promotion in lieu of substantive effort.

In the current economic climate, mobile is an increasingly important technology precisely because of how unlikely users would be to give it up.  If wireless companies can provide solutions that help users drop costs elsewhere and consolidate functionality to their mobile phone, they will dramatically increase their value to consumers.  Virgin missed a major opportunity here, and instead they come off as more obnoxious than original.