The Toyota Corolla “Explore, Dream, Discover” Commercial

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

If you think the writer of this Toyota Corolla commercial deserves a raise because of the copy, you might be disappointed to know that it’s not original. I knew it because a bunch of people from my high school used it as a senior quote back in the day (and presumably the current high schoolers still are). It’s a quote popularly attributed to Mark Twain, but he is never found to have actually said or written it. So who did?

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Better Late Than Never: Discover’s Peggy

I write about a lot of ads on here. But there’s some popular ones that for whatever reason, I haven’t touched on. Tonight in the Discover Orange Bowl (aka the Nobody Cares But It’s Wednesday Night So People Might Watch Bowl), West Virginia will take on Clemson. This seems like a good time to write about a prominent campaign, Discover’s Peggy, created by The Martin Agency.

Before I write about Peggy, I’m going to go on a long discussion/rant about my experiences with customer service over the phone. Partly because it’s relevant, but also because I really like writing about myself.

Alright, so customer service. You remember good customer service, but you REALLY remember when it’s bad. For me, I hate talking on the phone. So when something isn’t working, my first reaction is “Dammit”. My second reaction is “DAMMIT, now I gotta call”. I’ve had the most experience dealing with cable/internet issues, and also with a computer company whose name rhymes with “hell”. The cable/internet makes you stay on hold for a while, but after that it’s typically been easy to get a resolution. So it’s not quite as bad as DirecTV leads you to believe. The computer company on the other hand…

This is a story that took place in the winter/spring of 2007. Crazy that it’s been 5 years now. Shortly after returning from winter break to start the 2nd semester of my college junior year, I noticed my laptop acting strangely. It would be plugged in but say it was running on battery, and the battery would start to get low. I had a pretty new adapter, so I didn’t think that was the problem. I had a similar situation with my computer the previous summer, and it turned out to be a cracked mother board, which requires me to send it in to get fixed. By the time I made the call, the laptop was broken…wouldn’t turn on at all. So I call the customer service line. The first thing I notice is that my call is outsourced to India. It’s really funny because the people from India always identify themselves using really white names. Presumably to not freak out people from Kansas who are scared by foreigners/brown-skinded people. I’ve talked to numerous Indian customer service people, but this first time, I remember it was with “Tyler”. Bro, I KNOW your name isn’t really Tyler!

So Tyler tells me to turn on my computer. I explain that’s the problem…I can’t do that. After telling me to turn it on a few more times, he asks me if it’s plugged in. Yes, it’s plugged in. I’m retarded, but not THAT retarded. At this point, I’m starting to realize that this is gonna take a while. Tyler asks if the outlet is working. Yes, it’s working. I even take the computer out of the plug, and put a lamp in, which prompted comes on. After he tells me to turn on the computer AGAIN, I ask Tyler if I can speak to some higher-up.

I speak to a superior. He says a lot of the same things, but starts to figure out that there’s something seriously wrong with my computer. He says that the company will send me a box to put the laptop in so I can sent it for repairs. I try to get them to send me a new (refurbished) computer since I know the repair will be a for a lengthy time. It’s still under warranty, after all. No dice. Looks like it’ll be another 6 weeks for them to fix it. Damn.

So fast forward 6 weeks. I am computer-less. It finally comes. I open it up, look at the paperwork describing the work they did, and….IT STILL DOESN”T WORK! Won’t even turn on. Call up the company again, go through the same stupid process again, and finally they say they’ll send me a new (refurbished) laptop in 2-3 weeks.

3 weeks comes and goes. Still no computer. I call the company again to see what’s up. Turns out, nobody even bothered to put in the order! A manager of sorts apologizes profusely, and tells me it should be there within 2 weeks. To my surprise, it only took about a week. Of course, by this time, the semester is almost over. And as anyone who’s gone a significant time in college without a computer can attest, it’s not pleasant. The new laptop is solid, but I’m so annoyed by the whole process that I vow not to get a Dell again (if you didn’t figure out the company that rhymes with “hell”, it’s Dell). Then I realize that Dells are cheap, and I’m poor, so I back off my vow somewhat.

OK. If you read that whole thing, I thank you. If you’re like the vast majority of people who scrolled down to the part where I actually talk about Peggy, that’s cool too. There’s been a lot of commercials with Peggy, so I’m only going to post a few. The first is a current one featuring ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit. The second features retired Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden. The third one is about a botched call transfer.

Very funny and witty commercials. Let’s talk about Peggy first. I think Discover made a good decision in making Peggy some kind of vague Eastern European composite rather than specifically making him say, Indian. People would probably see that as racist. The actor who plays Peggy, Tudor Petrut, is actually Romanian. The content of the spots also works because everyone can relate to the customer service run-around. It’s amusing how the call center for “USA Prime Credit” is a barren outpost, possibly in Siberia. And wow, they are incompetent. I’ve never dealt with Discover over the phone, so I don’t know if their customer service is that great. But hey, these ads are sure fun to watch.

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