Thursday, December 8, 2011

Look a gift horse in the mouth today.

          P.J. O'Rourke wrote that one of the good things about overcooked broccoli and burnt squash on Thanksgiving was that he could halt his young daughter's incipient vegetarianism with three words: eat your vegetables.

          To a lot of people, including me, Thanksgiving was the best American holiday. No gifts, no hoopla, just family and turkey and the wonderful warm glow of gratitude. Maybe football, too.

          Black Friday's noisy creep into Thanksgiving Thursday changed all that. Workers pushed away from the dinner table to go to work. Shoppers took naps before going to the stores. Those that did neither booted up to shop online --- starting on their way home on their cellphones.

          The retail ads aren't very joyful either. The auto companies are settling for bows on their cars. Bows on cars in the Lexus commercials, bows on cars in the Lincoln commercials. Cadillac seems to be coming to the party bowless, but there are still two weeks remaining.

          This year Macy's is asking us to "Believe". Somehow that makes me more suspicious than ever. What do they want me to believe? Believe Macy's has the best stuff? Believe Macy's has the best service? Macy's has the best prices? Why do advertisers tell us what to do rather than give us the ammunition to make our own decisions?

          One campaign I do love is Lord and Taylor's. They show great fashions and then tell how affordable they are, with the headline "Oh my Lord and Taylor!" It has just the right light touch to it, reminding us that Lord and Taylor hasn't lost their sense of humor.

         Hermes continues to present its merchandise as art, and prices it that way.

         I'm usually not impressed by fashion ads that do little more than show the goods and a good-size logo. Somehow the J. Crew ads strike me differently. The models look so interesting, so aware, that the ads communicate a degree of confidence that's quite appealing.

        On the other hand, aren't we getting tired of crashing all those Hilfiger events? Look at all the red plaid. This is one clan I wouldn't mind being unfriended by.

        Which brings us to Banana Republic. Who are those two people? Are they twins separated at birth? They don't even seem to like each other. I'm scared to go to the store. That couple might show up and I'll have to make small talk.

         Whatever happened to branding? Whatever happened to selling the store every time you sell the merchandise? Away for the holidays, I guess.




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