Tuesday, March 25, 2014

If You Want Your Stuff To Be Like Family

Last night, while Rick and I were sort of watching television and sort of strategizing with our fantasy basketball teams, a commercial came on for a storage facility with a slogan that, for me, was problematic. Do business with us, they said, because "we'll treat your stuff like it's our stuff." I immediately turned to Rick.

Me:  Well, I don't see how that's such a great thing.
Rick:  What?
Me:  Telling people that you'll treat their stuff like it's your stuff. For example, if someone stored their collection of tchochkes here, I'd give them all away. I'm in Streamlining Mode. If that was my stuff, I'd be giving it away or tossing it. So...
Rick:  Or what if you don't take care of your stuff, like hoarders? You just cram it all in and let it rot? How is that good?
Me:  Exactly.  Some people simply don't give a damn about their stuff. So, what if they let other people go through the stuff, or they leave the door open and the stuff gets stolen? I know lots of people who are very casual about stuff, like Sam and Jared with their clothes. Half their wardrobe is in someone else's closet, usually each other's.
(there is a pause)
Rick:  We're never giving them our stuff.
Me:  Ha! You got that right.

All of this reminds me of another business, a restaurant, whose slogan was "We treat you like family" and the similarly themed "When you're here, you're family." Again, how is that good? I don't go out to dinner to feel like I'm at home eating with my kids, or my sisters and brother. And the very last thing I want is to sit in a restaurant and have the atmosphere of sitting in someone's kitchen or dining room while Mom complains that no one appreciates the time it took to prepare and cook the meal, Dad rides herd on some sullen, plugged-in tween who won't eat that because there's some fat on it, and a little preschooler who wants to talk about what a Disney character did and how she's a princess/he's (are there any male Disney characters who are heroes and carry the movie? Well, put his name here).  I have crossed restaurants off my List because of a high proportion of families in their patronage.  I'm by no means against families.  Heavens no.  I've just already had mine and been through all that and don't care to bear witness to it again.

Even Family Dinners at my house, which were not actually like the previous scenario, are still quite calisthenic and can wear me out sometimes. Plus, when I'm at home, no one comes out and serves me my dinner and takes the used utensils or extra plates away. I am not automatically brought nice, icy refills of water at home, either.  There is certainly not the luxury of being asked, "May I take your order?" or the more delightful "And what can I bring you for dinner this evening?"  Oh, how gorgeous.

Perhaps I am overthinking and overanalyzing these slogans. After all, it is only advertising and marketing, not great literature. But when there are so very, awfully many commercials that interrupt programming--especially as we watch the news--it's inevitable that I pay attention to a few here and there. They're asking for it.



  1. Oh, darling, I'm right there with you on that "treat you like family" stuff.

    My husband and I laugh about how if those slogans were true, then our meals at those restaurants would be served with criticism, judgment and lots of references to how unfair things were in the past.

    Family isn't always friendly, is it?

  2. Ah, The Hidden Persuaders. (Did you ever read that book?) And then there are the not so hidden persuaders. There's a car dealership in these parts with the slogan: "If we can't beat your deal (at the other car place), WE'LL JUST GIVE IT TO YOU!" Right. So you bring them the offer from The Other Guys and they sell you the same car for a penny less. No false advertising there. :-D

    How about Subway's Eat Fresh? This seems to imply that we are eating stale everywhere else. Which could be true, but I don't see that serving fresh food deserves the Nobel Food Prize, since that's what you expect. (It's OK in the produce section of supermarkets, because I don't expect stuff to be fresh all the time, but nowadays, who knows how much of it isn't irradiated--- so it looks fresh long after it should have actually rotted.) OK. Not a good note to end on, but there you are.

  3. Nance,

    How about if the makers of Viagra used everyone else's slogans..I got this in an Email the other day.

    .Viagra, Whaazzzz up!
    Viagra, The quicker pecker picker upper.
    .Viagra, like a rock!
    .Viagra, When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.
    .Viagra, Be all that you can be.
    .Viagra, Reach out and touch someone.
    .Viagra, Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman.
    .Viagra, Home of the whopper!
    .Viagra, We bring good things to Life!

  4. Ortizzle--Vance Packard! I had a whole class in that and loved it. So awesome. I couldn't believe some of that stuff, but there it was. I still look at ice cubes in drink ads!

    I used to impress the hell out of my students by talking about decoding advertising and political speeches. It's all about the Language, as you know.

    Ally--LOL. Exactly!

  5. Nancy--You must have been commenting as I was answering the others.

    All of those are so creative. I wish I had thought of them first. I was going to think of a couple more, but then I decided, "What for?" These are terrific.

    Whenever one of the testosterone supplement commercials comes on, I am amused by the images they always use. So many gushing liquids, so many phallic shapes, so many sex simulations, like towing something through mud, etc. It's blatant.

  6. Anonymous5:27 PM

    Mary G again. I did a diploma course in 'Creative Advertising' in which we were discouraged from using newly minted slogans and advised to stick with 'what worked'.
    your take on the restaurant slogan is perfectly hilarious. love it.

  7. Mary G--Thank you! I switched my comments protocols and hoped it would help some people who had been unable to leave their thoughts previously. Glad you're here!


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