The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

THE NEW $20: WHY ADVERTISE?
lend me a 20?
You've no doubt heard by now that the U.S. Treasury is rolling out a newly-redesigned $20 bill. It's been hard to miss if you consume any media on a regular basis: They've devoted plenty of advertising on television, online and other channels to make sure the word is out, and even set up nationwide "events" where the bill gets spent for the first time. It's the opening round of a general reworking of the major denominations of U.S. currency over the next few years.

My question: Why bother with all this hype?

I mean, what is the point of advertising all this jazz? Who cares? Why on earth do you have to sell the idea of a redesigned bill? It's not like people are going to refuse to spend it--they have no freakin' choice in the matter! I'm sure people will eventually get clued in on the new bills once they see them floating around for a couple of months. Why does the government feel it needs to go nuts with this media frenzy? Do they honestly think people will be alarmed and think they're hefting around counterfeit bills in their pockets--which would be badly-made ones, if the idea was for them to look like the older versions?

I don't remember all this media blitz the last time they changed the look of our bills (which by the way, wasn't that long ago, was it?). In the past, there might have been a few stories in the news leading up to the new bills being introduced, and that was it. No fancy commercials, no banner ads, nothing. Because like I said, it's not necessary.

I hate to sound like some sort of curmudgeon, but every time I see another TV commercial for this new sawbuck, the thought that comes to mind is: How many of these new twenties are they spending on this advertisting campaign to tell me something I don't need to know?