I was watching regular TV the other day, and saw a Gatorade commercial (repeatedly, in the most annoying way) with professional athletes pleading that they want to play, indeed, they were willing to play any sport. (Here’s a link to an example) It would have been funny except for the contrast with professional athletes who keep not wanting to play, or stopping play, and then deciding to play again a few days later. External circumstances made the ad fall flat. I realize that ad buys are made well in advance. I also know that they can be pulled. I think Gatorade is wasting money on this add now and it may actually be functioning as a negative.
I suspect that no one at Gatorade was willing to pull the ad because ads are expensive. This is a lesson worth repeating as much for me as for anyone. We say “ignore sunk costs” as a shorthand, but sometimes things get shortened enough that they lose their original meaning. I like to think of it as, “Ignore what you’ve already spent and make the best decision you can for the current circumstance.” The fact you spent money doing the wrong thing, whether “wrong” was under your control or not, doesn’t mean you keep throwing money away once you figure out it’s not the right choice for the current environment.