Friday, September 12, 2008

Generating Awareness

There’s nothing like a walloping great hurricane to generate awareness. It’s like your impending execution: “The unusual thing about the headsman’s ax is that it focuses the mind wonderfully.”

Yesterday, Alison Bond went to the nearby Home Depot to pick up a few things. She saw an extraordinarily well-dressed couple who, she could tell, had never, ever been in such a store. In their lives. They were shopping for emergency supplies against our coming Hurricane Ike. The man had the most expensive flashlight stocked by Home Depot. He held it gingerly, like it might explode and get…battery stuff…all over his nice suit.

He and his wife stopped by the largest portable generator on the floor, perhaps this AC Delco Model AC-G0005 with electric start. It’s 6,500 watts, “a real warrior,” according to the website write-up. (All Alison remembers, in passing, is that it was big and blue. She herself was not in the market for a generator.)

The man asked his wife, “We should buy this? Is this what we need?” His lady shrugged her shoulders. Looked totally blank.

Clearly, had there been time, the couple would have called someone to select an auxiliary generator for them, a professional generator picker of some sort.

Ad guy Tom McElligott told me once that people don’t notice advertising for tires until they need a new set. That’s when they finally see those newspaper ads. I know the same thing is true for what’s needful during hurricane season.

Proving once again that people do plan ahead – just not far enough. And when they do begin to pay attention, they have to repeat their climb up the learning curve. Or, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him water-ski,” as Roger Edmondson says.

Knowing now that Home Depot will still be stocking generators in October and November: $199 (Sportsman) to $4,200 (Xtreme Power 5000 Watt Professional).

Knowing the same thing last June? Priceless.

PS: Who manufactures these AC Delco portable generators? The brand name’s on the equipment, but the equipment’s not on the brand website. Just wondering.

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