Listen Up!

March 9, 2007, 10:30 am; posted by
Filed under Articles, Josh J  | 5 Comments

When I was growing up, I was fascinated by commercials. I have little doubt that if the Lord hadn’t called me into ministry I would have studied advertising. Even now, I like to break it down, analyzing the techniques and messages.

I have a bit of a soft spot for the “Not available in stores!” approach to television advertising. With its cornball acting, too good to be true design, call in the next five minutes ultimatum, and $X.99 price (but wait, there’s more!), it’s a tried and true formula for hundreds of products, none of which I have ever seen in anyone’s home.

Today I want to take a look at a product I just recently discovered: the Listen Up! personal sound amplifier. It promises to “turn ordinary hearing into extraordinary hearing.” Basically, it appears to be a microphone shaped like an iPod.

Why would you want such a product? For one, it’s “so powerful, you can hear a pin drop from across the room!” Of course, depending on the surface, you may already be able to do that on your own — and that’s not a very coveted ability anyway.

But the Listen Up! does have a wide array of desirable and legitimate purposes, like if you wanted to watch TV with the volume down after your spouse was already asleep: very considerate. Or if you needed a little help hearing the pastor’s sermon: very pious. Or if you were trying to get a keener experience from your nature walks: very serene. Or if you wanted to listen in on people’s private conversations from across a crowded room: very creepy.

I couldn’t believe this last point was being used as a serious sales technique, even if the manufacturers anticipated that interest in the product would tend toward the sinister. First off, strictly from a credibility standpoint, I’m a bit dubious that $14.99 (but wait, there’s more!) is enough to get you the kind of parabolic technology you’d need to focus on one particular voice in a room full of noise. But more importantly, I can’t believe a company would acknowledge, let alone endorse, this antisocial use of their product.

So the next time you look across the room at the guy in ear buds you assume is rocking out, remember: he just might be a low-budget spy wondering why the entire room is so loud.


5 Comments to “Listen Up!”

  1. Steve on March 9th, 2007 10:33 am

    But Josh, you OWN two of those types of products – the Magic Bullet and the George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine! What do you mean you’ve never seen them in a home?

  2. Aarong on March 9th, 2007 10:56 am

    My favorite: a set of sunglasses we advertise on the television station I work for.

    The claim: These sunglasses help you see in HD. High Definition! Now you can drive in Hi-Def. You can walk the dog in Hi-Def. You can look at beautiful women skating by in the park in Hi-Def. Yours for 9.99!

  3. Josh J on March 9th, 2007 11:29 am

    The Foreman grill is not one of these products, although it has been sold on television, because it is sold in Walmart and Kmart and other normal stores. I forgot about the Magic Bullet. Man, that infomercial has the best bad acting ever. I think that’s why I got it.

    Walk the dog in Hi-def?! Sign me up!

  4. Chloe on March 12th, 2007 5:53 pm

    Donald Miller has a Magic Bullet. He preached a sermon on it, but I don’t remember what it was about. My advice (not that you asked): burn the thing.

  5. Tom on March 13th, 2007 10:57 am

    “Now I can scoop Rex’s number 2 in 1080i. I totally don’t know what that means, but I want it.”

    Also Josh, it should read “other fine stores,” not “other normal stores.”

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