December 30th, 2010
11:28 AM ET

Letters to the President: #710 'You are eligible!'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: Much was made of President Obama’s fancy Blackberry/cell phone device when he took office. We don’t hear much about it anymore. I certainly haven’t heard anything from it..like a call…hint, hint. Here is today’s letter.

Dear Mr. President,

Some of the smartest people I know are folks who can see a good idea in one field and incorporate it into their own. You know, like a guy who sees a pizza delivery service take off in a neighborhood, and starts offering in-home computer repairs, too. I went through an experience today that gave me an idea that might help you. It’s a phrase really: “You are eligible for an upgrade.”

Yes, that’s right. I just bought a new cell phone. Two of them actually; replacing outdated, beaten up and barely working models owned by my wife and elder daughter. (Seriously, my wife’s phone was carved out of wood!)

I realize that as President you don’t have to stop by your local cell phone vendor anymore, but let me assure you it is quite an adventure. Sixteen TSA pat downs would be less disturbing. When you receive an e-mail, or a piece of snail mail, or a sales call saying “You are eligible for an upgrade,” it sounds as if you’re being given something. And you are. You are being given the opportunity to spend more money on phones, and that involves a descent into one of the more troubling circles of technological hell.

I won’t go into details, but we spent well over two hours grinding through models, ideas, service plans, data plans, warranties, accessories. It was more exhausting than a Three Stooges movie marathon. I’m not complaining, really, because there are certainly much worse things. Still, it’s one of those modern life challenges that seem unavoidable if you’re going to remain with the non-Luddite crowd.

Nevertheless, throughout the process I kept thinking of the brilliance of this marketing scheme; making you feel grateful for the opportunity to buy. Don’t you think this is something you could modify for your purposes? “Congressman Ringer? This is the president. Look, I just called to let you know that you are once again eligible to vote for my legislation. I know you’ve waited a while, and it’s a limited time offer, of course, but what do you say?”

Think of the appeal! Suddenly instead of twisting arms to make people support a measure they may find unappealing, you look like you’re doling out favors. This is genius! “Hey, I just got a call from the White House! I’m up for a yes vote!”

Sound silly? Maybe. But if you’d told me twenty years ago that I’d line up with millions of other Americans for the pleasure of spending more money even in difficult economic times…I guess I would have thought that was silly, too.

Think it over. And btw, have I mentioned that you are eligible to give me a call? Ha!


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (One Response)
  1. Brett Hatfield

    Love it... there's nothing like the entrepreneurial spirit

    December 30, 2010 at 11:49 am |