The Grinch of Christmas Advertising Complaints

Grace with Strangers: Kindness is Key for Business Owners (and Clients) in a Pandemic

Like many parents, my wakeup call on Christmas morning came early. I always set my alarm for 6:20AM. My 22-month-old daughter gets up anytime between 6:30-7:30, and 6:20 normally lets me sneak downstairs and get some breakfast ready before she wakes up.

I tried to turn off the alarm. It seemed extra early and I was exhausted. Why wasn’t my cell phone turning off? I looked at the clock with bleary eyes.


Why was my alarm going off at 4:13AM?! I tried again to swipe it off. The sound kept coming. I cringed, terrified that my daughter would wake up and the day would suck extra hard.

I realized it wasn’t my personal cell phone alarm. Someone was calling my business cell phone at 4:13AM on Christmas morning.

My wife was working overnight at the hospital. I was solo for daughter duty. Christmas was the last thing on my mind. First priority was making sure the day did not start at this ungodly hour. I hear the cat going crazy in the hallway. First sign of motion from the bedroom and he thinks it’s breakfast time. Now there’s a good chance he’s going to wake up my daughter with his howls unless I get my day started by opening the door and letting him into the master bedroom.

I tiptoe to the door and open it. The cat scream-meows in response. I shush him and scratch his ears, then sneak back to bed. I’m wide awake now. Cat is with me. He’s anxious and upset as well.

I pick up my work cell phone, which has mercifully stopped ringing. I see a voicemail. Might as well see what was so important.

It’s a woman who saw one of my cheap TV ads. She is yelling that I look creepy and need to change the camera angle and/or the lighting, or better yet, stop running them altogether because she thinks they’re gross.

I hit “SAVE” on the voicemail. Just in case she decides she’s going to complain to the local TV station, too. Anyone who’s insane enough to leave a rage-voicemail at 4AM on Christmas morning is likely also crazy enough to call the TV station itself.

There’s an embedded video on my website of my terrible TV ad. If you scroll to the bottom of my site you can see it and judge for yourself.

Ads that run from 12-5AM only cost 1-5 dollars in SW Virginia. It’s all I can afford as a one-man insurance firm on a tight budget. The analytics from my website show that they increase traffic more than digital ads on the channel’s website or even my own Facebook ads. If name recognition for my insurance firm grows because potential clients saw my cheesy ad at 3AM, then I’m going to keep running those cheesy ads at 3AM. Most folks have sent compliments on my ad and recognize it’s meant to be funny-leaning into the skid of a miniscule marketing budget. This is the first complaint I’ve received.

And it came like the Grinch on Christmas morning, threatening to destroy my entire day and my toddler’s 2nd Christmas.

When I told my wife about it, she said I should have called her back and sold her insurance. I rejected that idea rather forcefully. I had no desire to hear that woman’s voice ever again.

I have to do some cold-calling and cold-messaging to drum up sales, but I prefer to generate leads through content creation and advertising. I really don’t like cold-calling in general because I know that it’s intrusive. I recognize my prospects’ time is valuable and deliver my pitch as cleanly and respectfully as possible.

A rage voicemail at 4AM on Christmas Day is an entirely new level of intrusive. I’m a writer. I normally have words for all scenarios. I have no response to this.

My best response is this short article, written after months of reflection and a cool-down period following that very challenging morning.

March 2021 marks the one-year anniversary of the nationwide shutdown in response to Covid-19. It has been a difficult year. 2020 was a challenging time to start a business. 2020 was a challenging time to have Christmas. For many of us, we celebrated the holiday season in the same individual bunkers we first entered one year ago this month. There was a paucity of holiday cheer in December 2020. Clearly that affected many of us.

My temper has been shorter than usual. Obviously Lady Grinch was also in a difficult place-yelling at a cheesy ad at 4AM and then deciding to direct that rage at me instead of keeping it in her living room where it belonged.

Folks still need insurance. Insurance firms like mine still have to reach the folks who need insurance. I think we could all use a social contract with each other to show grace in these challenging times. If I could talk to that lady right now, I would ask her if she had any questions about insurance and offer my assistance.

I’m an insurance agent and a business owner. More importantly, I’m a husband and father. When you lose your mind and yell at somebody, you’re likely yelling at someone who’s more than a job title. More than a uniform. More than a 3AM TV ad.

Now more than ever, everyone I meet is going through struggles I cannot begin to comprehend.

So to the Grinch Who Nearly Ruined Christmas, I’m here to help if you’d like to call me back.

And I’m working on a new ad with a better camera angle and more light (I think she was correct with that critique).

I think we all need more light in our lives in 2021. I’m going to do my part to protect people, help them with their insurance needs, and provide for my own family as well. I’m going to respond to rage with grace.


Rudolph Lurz is a former teacher and football coach with over a decade of experience in education and a doctorate in Administrative & Policy Studies. His insurance firm offers options from numerous national carriers such as AFLAC, AIG, Americo, Mutual of Omaha, John Hancock, Foresters, Prosperity Life and Athene Annuities. He is licensed and insured in Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Florida and can provide referrals for customers in other states. He focuses primarily on life insurance, supplemental health insurance (including dental and vision), disability insurance, and annuities. He lives in Roanoke, VA with his wife, daughter, and cat.

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