By Ernie Smith

Advertising Airball 🏀





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Advertising Airball 🏀
By Ernie Smith • Issue #149 • View online
Can you write a more dystopian marketing phrase than “the official COVID-19 home test of the NBA”? God, I hope not. No, it was not a slam-dunk partnership.

A slogan that exists.
A slogan that exists.
I’ve been around the block quite a few times when it comes to marketing (it’s technically my day job), and I’ve honestly seen a lot of things float through my TV screen, my inbox, and the banner ads in my web browser.
But I’ve never heard anything quite like the description used in this ad from the makers of Cue Health:
"Going to Work" starring Karl-Anthony Towns | Cue Health
"Going to Work" starring Karl-Anthony Towns | Cue Health
“It’s not just for the NBA; it’s for you, too. Cue Health: The official COVID-19 home test of the NBA. Go Cue. Go You.”
The thing about this ad, featuring Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves, that feels like a total disconnect is that it exists in the first place, to be honest. It’s great that rapid testing exists that can give you results in 20 minutes. But advertising and brand affinity implies that there’s money to be made by offering these tests.
And given that it’s already hugely controversial that COVID testing already costs lots of money and is totally inconvenient to access, it just feels like it’s sending the wrong message to the public to have a basketball league profit from something that everyone has to do.
And, let’s be clear: It’s not like people often get the choice of where they get their COVID tests, anyway. A few weeks ago, I ended up needing a COVID test (negative, by the way), and I tried to get one fairly responsibly—I ordered a couple via delivery using an app, at a cost of something like $25 a pop. And this process was a bit of a nightmare; I actually had to order twice because the pharmacist at the first location refused to give the test to a delivery driver for reasons none of us actually understood. So this endeavor took half the day and multiple purchases to finally resolve, a nerve-wracking experience given the risks of exposure.
Chris Courtney
In short, COVID testing should be provided to all citizens because the virus impacts all citizens.

Marketing implies that the virus is now the core of a profit center.

Things that are profitable are not things that capitalism eliminates.
That a company feels comfortable enough about their tests to do any marketing whatsoever at a time when tests are often expensive and hard to come by just sort of feels like a bit of an airball on the part of Cue Health and the NBA.
And honestly, this feels like a situation where the tests probably shouldn’t even be sold or marketed like this. Like the vaccines, the tests should probably be cheap or free. That they’re not, and that companies feel the need to promote their spin on a test so they can maximize the potential profit margin, feels exploitative.
(And given that Cue Health sells 10 tests and a digital reader for an eye-watering $949, something tells me profit margin might be driving their mission.)
This is one of those times capitalism probably should have taken a back seat, no matter how useful these tests have been for the NBA. That it didn’t says a lot about our culture and the failures of leadership to prevent profit motives from getting in the way of public health needs.
May “the official COVID-19 home test of the NBA” be a phrase uttered as little as possible.
Related Reads:
Coronavirus Question: Why Do People Hoard Toilet Paper?
Can Pop Culture Keep Us Sane During COVID-19?
Time limit given ⏲: 30 minutes
Time left on clock ⏲: 8 minutes, 52 seconds
If you like this, be sure to check out more of my writing at Tedium: The Dull Side of the Internet.
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Ernie Smith

Hot takes in 30 minutes or less. A newsletter with an unforgiving deadline, written by Ernie Smith—who’s best known for another newsletter, Tedium.

Three times a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday). Hope I hit the 30-minute deadline. ⏲

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