The National Lampoon once put out a boxed set of radio programs with a jarring cover photo and the title, “Buy this Box or We’ll Shoot this Dog.”
That over-the-top marketing came to mind as I read an email from Sean Cairncross, Chief Operating Officer of the Republican National Committee. “Friend,” his email begins, “I want to cut you a deal.”
This was followed by an offer that even Vito Corleone might have a hard time refusing:
“Starting right now, chip in at least $20 to the Republican National Committee (RNC) within the next 24 hours, and we won’t send you any fundraising emails for the rest of October.”
In order to appreciate the value of such an offer you have to be on the email list for one or both major parties. Their emails are incessant, poorly written and each focused in one way or another on getting money. Anyone who clicks through to make an actual donation is assured of one thing: getting even more emails asking for even more money.
Just a few days before Cairncross made his eye-opening offer, there was a Republican Party email from someone identified only as “Katherine.” She began: “I know you’ve received a few emails, but please don’t delete this one.”
Nice: the “please don’t delete” ploy. Clearly GOP headquarters was already sensing the negative impact of too many emails and too many deletions. She did manage to get around quickly to the money thing, informing me that any sum I gave “before 5 p.m. today will be triple matched!”
Not bad, but not nearly so compelling as the Get Out of Email card from Sean Cairncross. After all, it was just a few days earlier that GOP party chief Reince Priebus emailed, “There would be nothing worse than for the Democrats to out-raise us during this critical time.”
Nothing worse? That’s almost as chilling as the thought of an innocent dog getting shot in the head.
I should mention that during this very same period JetBlue emailed me, “Your grand vacation awaits!” Denny’s emailed, “New dinner sandwiches and 20% off!” L.L. Bean emailed about “Indestructible Tees.”
But none had the wisdom to offer an email deal that would allow me to buy my way out of receiving more emails, until the overly-kind Cairncross stepped forward.
Alas, even he seemed to hedge just a bit. “You’ll stay in the know with Republican news and updates,” he explained, “but that’s it!” Sheesh. How much “news”? How many “updates” per hour? And are these updates about, you know, raising money?
He also added that his offer was necessary because “the Clinton-Obama Machine (is) relying on the Hollywood elite and liberal billionaires.” That makes sense. Most Hollywood elite and liberal billionaires are able to hire people to screen their email and wouldn’t be moved by a deal in which, as Mr. Cairncross cleverly puts it, “Your inbox will thank you.”
For Republicans, I think the pay-us-to-take-the-pebble-out-of-your-shoe approach slickly showcases synergy between politics and capitalism. But the email offer is just the beginning.
Now, how about, “For each $1 million we raise in the next 24 hours we’ll remove another podium from the debate stage!” Or, “If we collect $5 million by midnight we’ll keep Donald Trump off all talk shows this month!”
Peter Funt is a writer and speaker