Wendy’s — Choice is Good

This Wendy’s commercial picks fun at Soviet economics that were notorious for limiting options available to consumers in the name of efficiency, but monopolistic competition in a capital market thrives on product differentiation and the ability to cater to people’s preferences.

Thanks to Rob Szarka for the find!

Good Will Hunting — Value of a Degree

In this iconic scene from Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon gets into a confrontation at a bar with an undergrad who is trying to embarrass his friend who is trying to impress a group of young women. In the process of humiliating the other student, the two get into a key distinction on the value of a college degree. Someone could obtain the same knowledge of a college degree from accessing a public library, but the lack of an actual degree (a signal perhaps) limits the job opportunities available for many.

Thanks to Charlie Clarke for the post!

Superstore — Incentives

 

Cloud 9 has divided employees into two teams to see who can sell the most stuff by the end of the day. The winning team will earn a pizza party, but Glen is surprised that employees aren’t participating. He didn’t reveal that the winning team also gets $100 per member, which is a much better incentive for the employee. As Amy notes, for incentives to be effective, they need to be announced before the start of the competition.

Superstore — Union Scare

 

The team is trying to donate days off so Cheyenne can have her baby since Cloud 9 doesn’t offer maternity leave. Jonah finds out how much profit Cloud 9 made the year before and calls corporate with Amy to try and see if they can give Cheyenne maternity leave. At the mere mention of other company’s with unions having paid maternity leave, corporate sends a union buster to try and talk the store out of organizing.

John Mulaney– Salt and Pepper Diner

 

John Mulaney describes a memorable experience of trying to play Tom Jone’s What’s New Pussycat 21 times in a local diner. It doesn’t take long for diminishing returns to set in at the diner as everyone but the waitstaff loses their mind. This is a great opportunity to queu up a song on Spotify and play the same song on repeat before class. Some of your students won’t notice, but many of them will raise and eyebrow on the 3rd repeat.

Thanks to Katie Klinko for the clip reference!

Young Sheldon — Haggling Skills

 

Meemaw is having a garage sale and have asked Missy and George to help out. When George questions the pricing decisions of the junk for sale, Meemaw explains that she starts prices high so that people can negotiate and feel like they saved some money, which is another way of arguing that she’s trying to let the customers experience some consumer surplus. When Missy & George try to negotiate for better pay, they realize that it may not work out.

 

Seinfeld — Soup Nazi

 

Superior products can provide companies with a short term barrier to entry in a market, but they aren’t usually long lasting. Beyond technological superiority, some companies may have service or quality superiority, as is the case with the Soup Nazi in Seinfeld. Offering a superior product allows the owner to treat customers rudely, offer high prices, and restrict output as he desires.

This clip is available thanks to Economics of Seinfeld.

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