Early in my career, I earned praise from a newspaper advertising columnist for my work in an unusual venue. The column began “Sometimes creativity must be recognized, even if the vehicle is only a restaurant menu.” It is in that spirit that I devote this column to an equally unappreciated communications channel: the gas station “pump topper” I encountered at my corner gas station.
The sign went beyond the usual “come in and get a 148-oz. smoothie for 49 cents.” It actually had some marketing to it. Most of us know that if you buy items other than gas at a gas station, it’s for one of two reasons: you are either too late or too lazy to stop at a real store for it. (In those situations, you rationalize that a $1.75 can of Coke or a $4.50 gallon of milk are great deals.) Well, while most of us grudgingly accept it as the price of convenience, Citgo has found a way to put things in a more positive perspective – and I think I can see an actual strategy in it.
“What you need for whatever is next” does a pretty nice job of making me feel better about overpaying for things! It gives me permission to think “I’m not a poor, pathetic, desperate, disorganized, gullible sucker. I am simply a cool, active, busy person who is smart enough to fit things into my schedule in the most efficient way possible. Let those other people with boring lives and penny-saving obsessions clip their coupons and go miles out of their way to a store where they can save a few cents on a hundred dollars worth of stuff. I, unlike them, have a life to lead.”
Whether I need something on the way home from work or daycare, or some snacks to bring to the party, or any item that will get me through to my next regular grocery trip without having to go shopping NOW – Citgo is right there, 50 feet from where I am filling my car with gas.
“What you need for whatever is next” is a good message, as long as you don’t think about it too much. Like when you walk out carrying that pricey pack of coarse toilet paper.