Monday, January 02, 2006

Uniquely unique! Senselessly senseless!

This may seem at first to be somewhat off-topic, but as a good acquaintance of mine likes to say, go with it...

Your hero is on line in the supermarket behind a woman who's discussing her Christmas bounty with the female cashier. The woman, who is 40-ish, says Santa rewarded her with several nice, designer perfumes. The cashier, who's maybe 19 or 20, replies that she got a nice perfume, too, but sadly, it wasn't her all-time favorite fragrance.

"Oh, and which one is that?" asks the older woman.
"Very Irresistible," says the cashier.

I laughed aloud. Very Irresistible? What's the concept of this marketing campaign: "for when irresistible just isn't good enough"?

Which begs a further question. (And if you're pathologically averse to profanity in all its forms, you may wish to avert your eyes here.) Is there anything in American consumer culture that isn't a huge, steaming, disingenuous, narcissistic, hyperbolic, self-deluding pile of horseshit?

5 comments:

acd said...

I will never understand why women get so caught up in all that BS. Those two ladies probably had to rush home to catch the rest of Oprah, then finish the last few chapters of their very own copies of Love Smart, in a vain attempt to figure out why they are so resistible to the opposite sex.

Steve, you should have told the young woman who didn't get her favorite fragrance: "Well, just keep going after what you want in life."

Two Write Hands said...

Well, if acd isn't full of nasty generalizations. Why don't we all just assume women only buy perfume for its name? I wear Happy but don't for a second believe wearing it makes me so.

Gripe at the marketers all you want, but give the poor cashier a break. We don't know why she likes it. Perhaps it smells good?

Anonymous said...

Right on, mad secretary!!! Some of us do choose our perfumes for their fragrance or associations, not their names or who makes them. And we don't wear clothes or carry objects with designer names or initials all over them, either...

Steve Salerno said...

Hmmmm. I'm thinking, today, of changing the name here to PERFUMEblog... :) Seriously, though, I think acd makes a good point--not so much about one's choice in perfume, but the whole underlying assumption, which is (or at least it seems so to me) that people buy into the notion that the "right" perfume will make you "irresistible" (indeed, VERY much so) to the opposite sex, in much the same way that others buy into the notion that the right set of affirmations (or the right seminar, or the right book, with its own inflated promises) will help them prosper in life. For isn't that what's really going on here? Or am I overthinking this? I mean, is there any doubt that a fair number of people buy Britney Spears' fragrance because, at least at some level, they want to imagine themselves living Britney Spears' life? Why else would the perfume company pay her all that money to endorse it? Could it really smell THAT much better than other perfumes, without her name on them?? (And this silliness isn't gender-specific, btw. You think Nike paid LeBron James that $90 million, or whatever obscene sum it was, because it planned to make the actual sneakers themselves that much technologically better than any other sneaker on the market? Or is it that whole "be like Mike" syndrome all over again?)

You know, it's interesting. Yesterday "J. Arch" (whom I believe to be Jeff Arch, the screenwriter who wrote Sleepless in Seattle) posted a damning (in fact, "very damning") review on my book's Amazon page in which he accused me of being hypocritical, because I singled out the self-help movement, instead of going after advertising in general, the overblown promises of diet plans, etc. But in a sense I think he makes my point: that the whole culture is awash in this false-hope nonsense. The self-help movement is just one of the more extreme (and most insincere) manifestations of the phenomenon--and, I think, is responsible for, or at least contributes to, the rest of it.

Anonymous said...

Well, I think you're right there--the advertising industry as a whole is at least blatant about what it's doing, i.e., trying to get you to buy what it's selling. What makes the self-help industry so awful is that they sugar-coat their blatant marketing in self-righteousness, if that's the right term--we're doing this for YOUR good, not OUR gain. Right.