I’m suffering from commercial fatigue. Advertisement angst, so to speak. From our streaming service’s “watch free with ads” options to the banners that pop up on Facebook, the marketers have been hard at work trying to get me to part with my money.
Facebook certainly has my patterns figured out. Any and all things writing-related: cool t-shirts, craft courses, publishing podcasts… you name it. All I have to do is hover my finger or pause my scrolling for one microsecond and the next time on the platform, I’m bombarded with a fresh influx of “opportunities.”
It wants my money, and no doubt a team of techy marketing gurus is hard at work finding out your pain points, as well.
Streaming services don’t have the luxury of personalization, so they must aim for the masses.
Prescription drugs to address your ailments so you can go on that 19-hour plane ride to an exotic location.
Vehicles to take you to exotic locales—or those that will park themselves along the sidewalks snaking in front of glistening skyscrapers.
Insurance to protect your belongings while you’re away in an exotic locale. (I don’t mind the insurance commercials so much. Allstate’s Mayhem and Geico’s Gecco are actually better actors than some folks on the shows we’ve been watching lately.)
Fast food, lunch meat, and Oreos. To keep body and soul together as you travel to and from your exotic locales.
Now, I understand the drug commercials—I either have or care for someone with an ailment that those products might address. I understand vehicle commercials as I’ve driven and ridden in vehicles more than a few times. Insurance—no problem. Food? Well, even if I’ve never eaten at a particular restaurant or tried a certain brand of lunch meat, I can guess what flavors might be opened up to me should I decide to try what they’re offering.
Oreos? Yeah. I’m hungry now…
But, I’m clearly not in the target audience for perfume ads. Those ads fall way short and irk me, even. I’ve never been to the moonlit beach or the hot springs oasis to know what those places smell like, but I doubt they’ve bottled up damp nature and stuck it in a glass jar.
According to those commercials, one little squirt and you’ll be adorned in bejeweled black-tie attire, dancing on a moonlit beach or doing the salsa through a hot springs oasis—with a model, no less.
I know, I know, it’s all about brand awareness. Marketers hope if I hear “Chanel” or “Hugo” enough, I may want to pull on my sweatpants and hoodie and head to a certain fragrance-destination department store. They hope I’ll test out the testers with a high-pressured salesperson (some prissy young thing, no doubt) who pretends to be my best friend while silently judging that I dared approach her smudgeless glass case while wearing an outfit straight off of “What Not To Wear.”
Marketers hope I’ll purchase a bottle for myself and one for a loved one. So we can smell good together. (Ooph. If you’re close enough for me to smell you, you’re probably too close.)
While I’m at it, I’ll have to shop for that black-tie apparel because, well, sweatpants and hoodies aren’t exactly exotic locale attire. Neither are jeans or t-shirts, and that’s all we wear around here.
If toiletry marketers want my money, they’ll have to do better.
They’ll have to relate to my real-life issues.
They’ll have to take me away. Away from real-people problems.
The camera pans across a living room that needs to be swept because three cats live in the house, and one feline likes to rip up cardboard and scatter it like confetti. There’s a cobweb above the fireplace with a resident spider who has forwarded his mail to the mantel below.
The camera angle widens, and you see a middle-aged-ish woman adorned in a t-shirt she scored at a garage sale and a pair of ripped jeans frantically waving a dishtowel in front of the stove because something’s burning in the oven. She’s also having a hot flash. Sweat drips down her temples, making her bifocals parkour down her nose.
An even wider angle shows three days' worth of dirty dishes about to topple to the floor. On the adjacent counter, the woman’s novel-in-progress sits unfinished in loose-leaf format… and will need to be edited soon.
There’s a knock at the door because the doorbell is busted and has been for years. The mailman hands the lady a package, all sympathetic smiles because he’s delivered to this house so often that he’s used to seeing the middle-aged-ish woman in such a state and likewise accustomed to the aroma of over-done dinner.
The woman closes the door and slides to the floor in the entryway, cardboard box in hand. Two cats join her because, usually, life is all about them, and the box could hold a new toy or catnip. One cat is still tearing up a cardboard box from a previous delivery and eating a tax receipt.
But alas, she opens the box and pulls out INSERT BRAND NAME HERE perfume. One of those fancy bottles with the little bulb that you squeeze. She doesn’t know where it came from. Doesn’t remember ordering it, and really doesn’t care.
She squeezes the bulb, and out comes a fine mist, landing on her still-sweaty forehead. It’s a subtle fragrance, barely noticeable above the burning dinner, but her spirits lift ever so slightly.
She rises from the floor and sprays it again. Two cats flee down the hall, returning with broom and dustpan and begin sweeping up their own mess.
Another squirt. The third cat appears, giving a sweet leg hug to the lady, and politely waits her turn for the broom and dustpan before collecting all the cardboard confetti and depositing it in the trash can.
The lady, amazed, wonders if INSERT BRAND NAME HERE will do wonders in the kitchen, so she sprays it once again. The oven sucks the smoldering cloud of singe from the air and pops open its door, offering a perfectly-browned turkey, baked potatoes, and a raspberry pie.
Another spray, and the dishes wash, dry, and stack themselves. The novel’s loose pages lift and swirl and coalesce into a pristine paperback with not a typo to be found.
As the soft aroma reaches the corners of the living room, the spider gathers his mail, packs up his cobweb, and heads outside.
One more squirt of INSERT BRAND NAME HERE, and the lady’s hot flash is gone. She’s calm, cool, and collected, and, though she’s still adorning her garage sale shirt and ripped jeans, she’s happy about her lot in life—no exotic locale needed. With plenty of time to spare before the Hubs comes home, she grabs her kitties, a fuzzy unicorn blanket, her new paperback, and settles down on the couch to enjoy some soul-filling quiet time.
Now that’s a product I’d brave a prissy department store clerk for.
But alas. That’s not a perfume.