Recession messaging

Scanning the New York Times for blog ideas today, I came across this article on an increasingly popular push among companies: the job-loss guarantee.

With countless workers hoarding cash and fearful of joining the swelling ranks of the unemployed, American companies are trying to stimulate demand with a new twist on an age-old retailing strategy: money-back guarantees.

In the last couple of months all kinds of companies — car manufacturers, home builders, airlines, apparel chains, cellphone carriers — have started promising their customers financial assistance, refunds, even free services, if they lose their jobs.

I thought to myself, "This must be the new 'stimulus package' meme." It stirred in my mind the dozens upon dozens of marketing messages I've seen since the passage of President Bush's stimulus package last year touting discounted offerings with that verbiage. This is especially popular, I've noticed, among restaurants and bars in my Brooklyn neighborhood. The Times has an article about this as well (but because it was printed only a few days ago, it's more curious to me that it took them this long to write about it vs. the few weeks or so it took to pick up on the guarantees, made popular by Hyundai).

So, marketers, what do you think about all this recession-focused messaging? Does it make a measurable impact on results in an already tepid climate? Do consumers want to hear that companies know times are bad? Personally, I want to know if any creative types feel that flooding the market with similar offers reduces their value. Does consumer fatigue play a role here?
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