Politics, Technology, and Language

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought — George Orwell

Don’t shoot the nickel

Posted by metaphorical on 27 June 2007

Remember the National Lampoon magazine cover, “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog”? It was just mentioned in the NY Times as having been selected “the seventh greatest cover of the last 40 years” by the American Society of Magazine Editors.


I thought of it when I got this letter from UNICEF today.


Can you see the text on the envelope?

As little as a nickel could save a child’s life!

And can you see the clear outline of a nickel pushing through the envelope?

In other words, if you throw the letter out unopened, you’ll have thrown out a real U.S. five-cent piece. The nickel is being held hostage!

Naturally, I opened up the envelope and then (after photographing it) threw it out, the letter unread, because if they’re daring me to be that big an asshole, well, I’m up to the challenge. Naturally as well, UNICEF or the universe got its revenge. The nickel rolled out onto the floor and I have yet to find it.

7 Responses to “Don’t shoot the nickel”

  1. ClaireDePlume said

    As little as a nickel could save a child’s life? Or as little as a nickel will keep a well-fed UNICEF employee gainfully employed?

    “Philanthropic” groups exploiting pictures of malnourished children with puppy-dog eyes used to lure me in, along with walks for cancer, lupus, arthritis, cold sores, the heartbreak of psoriasis & the agony of ingrown arm pit hair… Until it dawned on me that never will any of these causes ever be resolved. To solve world hunger, disease, pestilence and misadventure would cause a tear in the time/space continuum of our global economy. Then we would be faced with marathons, fund-raisers, girl guide bake-offs with their toxic cookies and walks for unemployed and under privileged charity workers.

    Pass me a dollar bill – I need it to wipe the tears from my eyes.

  2. “Naturally, I opened up the envelope and then (after photographing it) threw it out, the letter unread, because if they’re daring me to be that big an asshole, well, I’m up to the challenge.”

    Love it!

  3. Swanny said

    Claire, I’d give you one of these $20’s but they’re just for toilet paper.

    Meta, Banki’s gonna get you. And yer giant cat too!

  4. ClaireDePlume said

    Thank you for the offer Swanny, though it’s been alluded to that I am tooooo snotty to use a $20 anyway.

    As for the toilet paper issue and being an asshole, then let’s all be assholes. AND. Further to that, all I can offer is my grandfather’s advice:

    “As long as you’ve got an asshole, you’ll never be satisfied.”
    (This is directed more so at ‘those philanthropists’ …)

  5. Blue Athena said

    I loved the UNICEF nickel — we had such a good laugh and pocketed the thing. The fact is all those other stupid giveaways (stickers, address labels) work, and the marketing stats show it.

    And here comes just the most blatant example where they don’t even try to hide the gimmick. Did they know how over the top this was? Was it accidental or is there somethinmg else going on?

    Really, if I hadn’t seen the facts I’m not sure I would have believed the address labels and all worked, but they do, despite the way so many of us sneer at the waste of money. So maybe I’m missing something. Or maybe I’m just easily entertained.

    Not that they are getting my money. At a certain point I’ll admit I am just averse to bad taste, no matter how unfair that may be to the charities at issue.

  6. digglahhh said

    For the record, I will admit that I am not opposed to using shame or guilt as tools to manipulate people to make healthy decisions (I am opposed to doing so to manipulate people to make unhealthy decisions). However…

    The tackiness isn’t my major objection to this strategy, and whether or not they actually show or give you the nickel isn’t particularly relevant either.

    If you are going to use guilt, you have to raise the ante. While there is nothing wrong with the causes of UNICEF, you can’t just tell people that donating a nickel can make any real changes in the lives of these children. Sure it’s better if people give a nickel than if they don’t, but if you are going to let them buy themselves a clear conscience, the going rate has to be more than a Bazooka Joe.

    It’s the same thing with this “Buy Red” shit. Sure, you wanna contribute some of the price of a phone to some cause, great. And, if some people buy that particular model phone because of the campaign, good for Buy Red. But, at the same time, we can’t reinforce the idea that you can solve these sorts of complex global problems through consumer decisions. It’s irresponsible (and often tragically ironic) to allow people to alleviate their guilt about these types of problems by going to the mall.

  7. […] National Lampoon did the same thing, it was a joke. But UNICEF is […]

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