By Jay Sedmak
SNPJ Publications Editor/Manager
How many times have you run across an advertisement for a product – on television or radio, in a magazine or newspaper, or even online – and thought to yourself, “Gee, that seems like a simple enough idea. Why didn’t I think of that?” I’ll bet you’ve done that hundreds of times; so often, in fact, that you’re likely no longer aware you’re doing it. The response tends to become subconscious, almost like a reflex.
The “why didn’t I think of that?” mechanism is usually triggered during the holiday season, when we’re bombarded by thousands of ads for a countless number of products that will supposedly make our lives a little easier. But our slap-to-the-forehead reaction isn’t necessarily limited to the year’s busiest buying-and-selling season. Take, for example, my case this morning:
Scrolling through my overnight e-mails shortly after my arrival at the office (and while summarily deleting the several unsolicited e-mails that accumulate in my inbox during the wee hours of the morning), I happened to run across one e-mail that spurred my curiosity. This particular piece of “e-adverspondence” (my term for electronic advertising correspondence, otherwise referred to as “junk e-mail”) presented the following subject line: “At last a French-designed Object Souvenir of the Eiffel Tower.” Hmmm. OK, I’ll bite.
Since I wasn’t in much of a hurry (after all, it was only 7:35 a.m.), I waited patiently as the e-mail opened and fully revealed its contents. Truth be told, I was distracted for a few minutes by a series of notes I’d made at the end of the prior work day, but since patience is a virtue... well, you get the idea. Anyway, the contents now rendered on my monitor, I skimmed over the e-adverspondence. Shaking my head in disbelief at what I’d just seen, I re-read the text. At this point the message finally sunk in, and I engaged in the above-mentioned subconscious, reflex-like, slap-to-the-forehead gesture.
Here it was, right in front of my eyes, the newest historic collectible product to hit the market: souvenir rivets from the Eiffel Tower. And the best part? They’re not even from the Eiffel Tower! So that would make them, let’s see... rivets! Wow! What more can you say, other than “Now why didn’t I think of that?”
One of these days I’ll have the finer points of marketing explained to me in detail. Until that time, I can only marvel at the manner in which products are presented to the masses. Sure, these may only be rivets, but they’re marketed as a “rivet-type, based on the original model of the Eiffel Tower’s rivets.” Oh yes, let’s not forget the disclaimer: “The rivet-type is not an authentic rivet of the Eiffel Tower. It has never been one of the building parts of the Eiffel Tower.” A minor detail.
For added emphasis, the marketers are quick to point out that there is a limited supply “of 5,000 rivet-types,” each of which is numbered and “encased inside a synthetic crystal block... and protected by a bright red cardboard package.” To complement the contents, “a pair of cotton gloves is included to avoid fingerprints when handling the crystal.” I never would have thought about leaving fingerprints on a synthetic crystal block. The gloves are a nice touch (pun intended). Genius, sheer genius there.
Now don’t get me wrong here. While I may be poking fun at this blatantly souvenir-ish item, at the same time I’m impressed with the ingenuity of it all. Someone has devised a means of selling rivets on a market far removed from the typical rivet buyer, which just proves the old adage “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Or maybe it carries the more cynical tune of “there’s a sucker born every minute.” I’ll leave that determination to you.
For now, I’ll return to my inbox – to take my chances on the Australian lottery, or perhaps split several million dollars with a Nigerian bank representative seeking an investment on behalf of his once-powerful but now-deceased client – and dream of the day when my “why didn’t I think of that?” schemes come true.