Pizza Hut — Gorbachev’s Fault

It’s almost a decade after the Berlin Wall has fallen, and Russia is coming to grips with the introduction American “culture” in their country. As President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev was responsible for the dissolution of the USSR. The resulting economic transition was confusing for many, as the advertisement shows disagreement among family members about the state of Russia in the years following the end of Soviet rule.

Old Spice — Smellcome to Magic

Individuals often make decisions that are in their own best interest, and often disregard the impact they may have on other people. Whenever this happens, individuals are creating an externality. Someone else either benefits or is harmed by that outcome. In the case of someone putting on deodorant, that could have spillover benefits from people getting to smell a “fresh scent.” If too much is applied, it could annoy others are turn to a negative externality.

Volkswagen — Buying a Used Car

Asymmetric information is a condition in which one party to a transaction has information that isn’t known to the other side of the party. This can disrupt the market for used goods because the buyer may not know the full extent of what they’re purchasing. In this Volkswagen ad, the father and son duo are unaware of the older lady’s past experiences with the cars. This is a great segue to Akerlof’s Market for Lemons, which is based on the the used car market.

Turkish Airways — Flying Everywhere

This Turkish Airways ad shows the value of network externalities to a market. A network effect occurs when the value of a product or service depends on the number of users. Network effects are typically positive, such that the more people using the product, the more valuable the product becomes. Airlines are an example of network effects, as the ad points out, because the more places they fly, the more valuable the flights are to the people purchasing the tickets.

Walmart — Negotiations

Each year, children collect their trick-or-treat goodies and then go about trading their candy with each other. This scene from a 2019 Walmart commercial illustrates the concepts of gains from trade, bartering, and mutually beneficial transactions. Each child only trades an amount they are willing to give up and aren’t forced to trade with each other. After the exchange, both are better off than they were before the meeting.

Thanks to Brian Lynch for the recommendation!

T-Mobile — Ariana or Maps?

The driver of the car faces scarcity (limited data). The driver is forced into a decision between streaming music and using maps with her data. At the end of the commercial she chooses maps, leaving Arianna as her opportunity cost.

Thanks to Brian Devitt for the clip and description!

Goldfish Pinball Commercial

The dark orange goldfish excitedly explains to his light orange friend that he has invented a new board game. He goes over the extremely complex rules to the game and this conversation ensues:

Dark orange fish: Let’s play!
Light orange fish: What do I have to lose?
Dark orange fish: Just the next three days!

This would be a great intro clip to show for opportunity cost / implicit costs. Learning all of the very intricate rules and playing this game will be extremely costly for the light orange fish in terms of the time he has to give up to participate. What else could he do with his time instead?

Thanks to Erin Yetter (Twitter) for the clip and description!

Straight Talk — “Free” Phone

Have a friend who brags about things they get for free? One of the common components of long-term contracts is that it includes a phone, but the price of the phone is often just built into the contract so the phone isn’t really free.

McDonald’s — Weak Dollar

In this commercial, office workers are lamenting the apparent weakness of the dollar relative to other currencies. Another worker comes by with a hamburger from McDonald’s $1 menu and the office changes their tunes when they realize that a dollar can buy a whole hamburger.

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