Berkshire Hathaway is one of those massive corporate behemoths that weighs down chairs and breaks tables when it sits down to commune with others in a room. On May 11, 2011 I wrote an article about Berskhire Hathaway losing its moral value:
Fuddy Duddyism only goes so far in the mainstream cult of personality, and Warren Buffet can no long demand that people just “trust him” on anything anymore because Sokol singlehandedly ruined that reputation and opportunity. Buffet, now 80-years-old, is in a tough place of his own making because he made the worst sort of bet on David Sokol that is now paying him back in backlash and derision — and there is rightly no escape from that public punishment and social scorn.
Today, I’m sorry to report, Berkshire Hathaway’s GEICO Insurance company has taken a step too far into mainstream television tastelessness with a new commercial selling fear and loathing with a grim and cynical smile.
Have you seen the new GEICO commercial that started airing last weekend on the East Coast?
The commercial goes something like this: A mother and a father are talking about their lack of money. The mother serves the father a plate of sushi in their kitchen. The father wonders how they can afford sushi on their slim budget and the mom tells him not to worry about it.
Then, their teenage daughter enters the dining room holding a goldfish bowl filled with water but her fish is missing. She asks her parents if they’ve seen her fish.
The mother smiles. The father chokes on his “sushi” and then coughs up a reply that she should check under her bed.
The daughter says the fish needs water to survive.
The father guiltily swallows the “sushi” that is really his daughter’s goldfish.
Then we get the GEICO teaser about saving money on your insurance so you can buy real sushi and not have to use your child’s goldfish instead.
Is that a funny commercial? Does it make you want to go out and give GEICO your money? Wouldn’t it have been funnier if the GEICO gecko were served up on a cracker instead?
I know goldfish are expendable in the immoral advertising community, but beyond the notion of how you feel about eating suffering fish, the entire joke of that commercial is that the parents were so loathsome and petty and shallow that they put their want for sushi above the love and caring that their daughter had for her pet fish.
Is it a silly notion to feel repulsed by such parents who would sink so low for a bite of fish that they’d betray their daughter’s trust and steal her goldfish and eat it and then lie about it directly to her face?
No wonder the USA is in a deep and irrevocable moral abyss. Children can’t trust their parents. Parents are less moral than their offspring. We laugh at despair and vileness and we are outraged when political parodies claim to be offended as non-serious thinkers.
I fear we are in a universe of trouble as a nation and we’re clinging to an ever-descending immorality as a false path out of our human despair.