May 3, 2019

"Show Mom how well you know her."

A pop-up ad at the NYT:



Click to enlarge and clarify. The black button says "Give the Times."

It's a good ad, even if you consider the array of responses:

1. I should give my mother a subscription to the NYT because she's smart enough to read it, will like its take on things, and doesn't already have a subscription. This is the group the ad was written to reach.

2. My mother already has a subscription to the NYT. Fine to reach this group too. It reinforces their commitment to NYT subscriptions.

3. I know my mother would hate the NYT, but I read it — that's why I'm seeing this ad — and I think it would be good for her. This group is amused and also reinforced in their commitment to the NYT (and their sense of superiority to their own mother). They might even give Mom a subscription — to needle her or (it could happen) improve her.

4. I actually don't know if my mother would appreciate a subscription to the NYT. I wouldn't be showing her how well I know her. I'd be taking a risk, and if it turns out she likes it, she might imagine that I knew she would, but if it turns out she doesn't, I'd be revealing that how well I know her is not well at all. It's fine for the NYT to reach these people too, but the effect here is more complex. Perhaps there will be anxiety — why do I know so little about Mom? — but anxiety may lead you to delve more deeply into the riches of New York Times articles.

5. My mother is in no position to accept gifts from me. This is the real out group for all Mother's Day ads. Your mother is dead or estranged from you. This particular ad is actually better than all those ads for flowers and jewelry. If your mother is dead, you may think, My mother did love her NYT or Mom would have hated getting the NYT instead of flowers and, either way, you can think fondly of her. You really did know Mom well. Good for you. But maybe you're estranged from your mother — through your fault or hers — and in that case, it's still better than seeing ads for giving flowers on Mother's Day. The idea of her (and you) reading the NYT has some vague promise of learning something somehow or getting a new  idea that might lead you back together before death — hers or yours — closes that door for good.

47 comments:

Henry said...

I'm sending my mom flowers.

Peter said...

I take a print copy of the international edition every day, but I know my 98 yo mum would not have the time to read it so I just cut and paste articles she’d like and email her in Oz, with a h/t to the Times

rcocean said...

My mother would use the NYT to cover the bottom of the bird cage. So, no she's not getting a subscription.

Peter said...

@henrybreminds me I’ve already sent her a hamper…

Ann Althouse said...

"My mother would use the NYT to cover the bottom of the bird cage."

I was trying to keep the post as short as possible, but I did consider, under #3, writing something like: What you know about Mom is that she'll make the joke "I can use this to cover the bottom of the bird cage."

traditionalguy said...

The antisemitic NYT would be the perfect gift for a family of serious Jew haters. Other than that what good is it?

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

Why would I want to give my mother the finger? Or a pile of left-wing propaganda?

No thanks.

The Godfather said...

I would never give my mother a toxic substance.

Swede said...

My mom's not an anti-semite.

So no.

elkh1 said...

My mom does not tolerate trash.

mccullough said...

My mom doesn’t live on Central Park. So no new need for that neighborhood news.

Michael Fitzgerald said...

My brother bought me a surprise subscription to the New Yorker. At first, I started reading the magazines. Without fail, within the first five pages there would be Democrat party virtue signals, usually in the form of insults and slanders aimed at Republicans. I am not even talking about the very first feature of the mag Talk of the Town which is prog politicking and muckraking. The insults and contempt is present even in the advertising and entertainment schedules.

My brother reads that shit and thinks: I'm smarter than them. I read that shit and think: These people are arrogant assholes who don't know from shit.

Mike Sylwester said...

My Mom subscribed to many periodicals, so she probably would have liked such a gift.

Not only did she subscribe for herself, she bought subscriptions for her children. She subscribed to The New York Review of Books for me for many years.

She was a high-school librarian and then became a book-store owner.

My Mom was quite liberal. She subscribed to The Nation.

She died of natural causes in the summer of 2016. If she had lived until Election Day, she would have died of a heart attack immediately afterwards.

MadisonMan said...

I'm amazed at how few people in my neighborhood subscribe to the local paper but do get the Times. Sure, there are many disincentives to subscribing locally -- those nonsense inserts they put in and charge you for even if you didn't ask for and don't want them. If you cancel delivery because you're out of town a week you get no credit for it. It's a long list.

I'm sure most who get the Times think they are well-informed, as well.

Ann Althouse said...

"My brother bought me a surprise subscription to the New Yorker. At first, I started reading the magazines. Without fail, within the first five pages there would be Democrat party virtue signals, usually in the form of insults and slanders aimed at Republicans. I am not even talking about the very first feature of the mag Talk of the Town which is prog politicking and muckraking. The insults and contempt is present even in the advertising and entertainment schedules."

It's easy to see at a glance that's what you can skip, but you should flip through the whole thing to read the cartoons and, as you do that, find the things that are on unusual subjects, like I"n Deep
The dark and dangerous world of extreme cavers"
and make yourself read the whole thing. If you find something like that only once in 4 issues, the subscription is well worth it. You have to read it the right way!!!

Fernandinande said...

My Mom's dead, so if I gave her a NYT subscription she wouldn't be able to pay for it.

Michael said...


I am prostrate from reading each of Ann's scenarios and keeping their distinctions clear in my mind. Strenuous work; exhausting! Someone please hit me with a cold splash of Boy's Life. Ann, please take a break and listen to some relaxing John Cage music.

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm amazed at how few people in my neighborhood subscribe to the local paper but do get the Times."

I'm not! The local paper is too much trash. The NYT is worth flipping through and scanning for interesting stuff. Plus, the crossword.

Also, around here, there are tons of people who didn't come from Wisconsin. When I came here in 1984, being able to get the NYT delivered was a huge deal to me.

tim maguire said...

You're overthinking it. It's just another ad.

That said, my first thought was, my mother is dead. That's always my first thought when someone encourages me to do something nice for my mom. If I were of a more leftist bent, I'd use that feeling to campaign against Mother's Day.

CJinPA said...

The local paper is too much trash. The NYT is worth flipping through and scanning for interesting stuff.

Part of my job involves scouring newspapers for certain news. I used to love reading the NY Times, even when their liberal bias meant having to avoid anything about politics. The human interest stories, foreign dispatches and a lot of the science stuff was compelling.

Post-2016, everything the Times publishes is done in service to The Cause, and is therefore unreadable. I realize it remains a powerful outlet and, like it or not, remains consequential, but if it wasn't for blogs like Althouse linking to it, I would never be exposed to it.

Michael K said...

I subscribed for years then got tired of the Times about ten years ago. When I tried to cancel, I couldn't. I had to cancel a credit card to get rid of them.

Mr. D said...

My mom has been gone nearly 20 years, but she would hated a subscription to the NYT, although she wouldn’t tell you it directly.

etbass said...

My Mom doesn't care for fish so doesn't need a wrap.

Caligula said...

The NYT is not a very consumer-friendly merchant. Presumably all obligations lie with the gift-giver, not the recipient.

"All NYTimes digital subscriptions are renewed automatically."

"you will not be notified in advance of impending renewals and you expressly agree to waive the application of New York General Obligations Law section 5-903 and any similar laws."

"If your credit card expires or your payment method is otherwise invalid, your subscription or product will not automatically be terminated. You will remain responsible for all charges. You will be responsible for all costs we incur in connection with the collection of unpaid amounts, including court costs, attorneys' fees, collection agency fees and any other associated costs."

"When you cancel a subscription, you cancel only future charges associated with your subscription. You may notify us of your intent to cancel at any time, but the cancellation will become effective at the end of your current billing period."
"We reserve the right to make changes to our digital products at any time. If we temporarily reduce or eliminate the charge for content or access that you are currently paying for under different terms, you will not receive a refund."

Michael Fitzgerald said...

"You have to read it the right way."
This is true. I've been reading for half a century and I'm still doing it wrong!

mrsizer said...

there are many disincentives to subscribing locally

I wanted the Sunday Denver Post - and they have a Sunday-only subscription. However, it is not Sunday only. They throw random weekday papers into my yard, too. I canceled.

Eric said...

Many years ago I gave my parents a subscription to the Times. They enjoyed getting it at first, but once the term I had purchased ran out it became an ongoing burden that they valued less than its cost, so they cancelled. Then the "we want you back" mailings began. Overall, I came to regret the gift.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

My mom was a New Deal Democrat, active in local politics. A devout Catholic, I think she was getting estranged from her party by the time she died four years ago at 92. She would have been mostly in tune with the NYT's politics, but would have found a subscription unnecessary. She had the LAT.

Ambrose said...

".... I read it — that's why I'm seeing this ad —"

Are you sure? Maybe they know who your mother is and know she would like a subscription based on her online activity.

hstad said...

Used to love the NY Times when I lived in NYC many years ago! Today, they are a bid tasteful from my viewpoint largely because they live, eat and report from the Liberal-Left's(not the old classical definition of Liberal) side of the equation. Still read the WSJ daily, about the only news organization still partial to balanced reporting the news. Although, I must be honest, many articles in the WSJ are now skewing Liberal. I would subscribe to the NYT if their reports were more balanced in view and had editors like the late A.M. Rosenthal - a real pro.

Rory said...

A friendship grew to more, then to less, and then a friendship again. Then she gave me Al Franken's book - had we ever met?

Bilwick said...

My mother would say, "Oh, thanks a lot, moron. Just what I need: commie propaganda. Was a subscription to Pravda too expensive for you?"

campy said...

Mom may be dead, but she still needs to know how to vote.

Big Mike said...

I can’t imagine hating someone enough to get them a subscription to the Times. Last of all members of my family.

Wilbur said...

Yo mama reads the New York Times. Yo mama.

Static Ping said...

Why not? Bird cage liner ain't gonna buy itself!

Darrell said...

Next time they are offering a free trial, go to the website and sign up 43,000 strangers.

tcrosse said...

My late mother did the NYT crossword every day for many years before the Dementia got her, but she never read a word of the rest of the paper. A woman I worked with did the puzzle every day figuring it would stave off Alzheimers. I didn't have the heart to tell her about Mom.

Joanne Jacobs said...

If your mother would enjoy a New York Times' subscription, she probably already has one.

My mother also did the NYT crossword every day and also had to stop due to dementia.

She turns 92 next week, just before Mother's Day. I've endowed a rose in her honor at the public rose garden: She used to love gardening and roses were her specialty. But she won't know that I've done it or who I am.

robother said...

"I live in mom's basement, so it's the perfect gift, whether she likes it or not."

Nichevo said...

You have to read it the right way!!!


You know how you feel about excessive white space?










THAT'S HOW I FEEL ABOUT EXCESSIVE PUNCTUATION!!!










THEN AGAIN, IT'S YOUR BLOG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Be said...

I wish my mother (small m) Peace. I'd never buy her a subscription to the NYT in any event, as she was too ignorant to make out left from right even in the Polish journals.

Am considering renewing, at Father's Day, the "American Rifleman," just to continue getting all the whackdoodle side advertising about CBD oils, GOLD!!! and BARCODING, etc. Dad was what one calls Schizo Affective, which made him an awful lot of fun to communicate with.

CWJ said...

"Know her?" How about "love her." Seriously. Yes, very many mother offspring relationships boil down to the transactional, but THIS is how you market it?!? This is desperation. Similar to Lionel's buy your daughter an electric train campaign right before they went under.

sean said...

Well, Prof. Althouse's spectrum omits our family. (How insensitive!) My mother is dead--that's not the insensitive part--but it might have been said of her, and could definitely be said of my wife: "My mother/wife is much smarter than anyone who writes for the Times, and almost of the people who read it. Why on earth would she clutter her mind with that drivel when there are so many important true things to think about in the world?"

Ty said...

I've been seeing a lot of TV commercials for the NY Times recently. Apparently they have some documentary show coming out on FX called The Weekly.

The cable channel FX announced on Wednesday that it would be making a new weekly documentary series centered on stories that appear in The Times and the journalists who report them. The show, which will be called “The Weekly,” builds on the success of the podcast “The Daily,” which began last year and generally examines a story a day from the Times newsroom.

Premiers Sunday June 2nd

Unfortunately not in time for Mother's day.

tim maguire said...

Ambrose said...Maybe they know who your mother is and know she would like a subscription based on her online activity.

That’s a scary thought. Scariest of all because it might be true.

sdharms said...

what I find remarkable is that so many people had time and a thought about that ad. Do they not have anything useful to do?