Tuesday, September 29, 2009

You want to know about luxury bed linen? Pull up a seat, I'll be here for a while.

One of my ongoing copywriting jobs is writing the fortnightly newsletter for Melbourne-based online retailer Bear & Duck. If you’re after Egyptian cotton, bespoke-packaged bed linen that’s delivered to your door with a healthy dose of humour and humanity, then sign up to receive their sales alerts. I’m lucky the retail manager lets me cut loose and showcase my expertise – celebrity shoe trends, stupid baby names, “where are they now?” info on iconic 90s stars… you know, all the big issues. FYI – product specials are inserted into the newsletter after I’ve finished the copywriting, but that’s not my department.
The best thing about Bear & Duck is its unwavering mission to debunk the earnest drivel that’s churned out most lifestyle and consumer marketing departments.


If you believe all those health and lifestyle product ads on late-night TV, there’s a wealth of secrets “out there” (cue X-Files music) that are guarded tighter than inmates in a supermax prison unit. How generous is it, then, that these companies advertise them exclusively – oops, we mean “let us in on the secret” – through the medium of low-budget infomertials, televised at times that incidentally also offer bargain-basement ad rates and cater to vulnerable viewers (namely, desperate insomniacs and stoned couch potatoes). Seriously, if the “secret to younger looking skin” – ummm… avoid boozing, smoking, and sunbaking? – was that revolutionary, surely the next generation of nuclear physicists and biochemists would be lining up to intern at the Ponds Institute instead of NASA, right? As for Colonel Sanders’ secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices… Our bet is that he took that one to the grave, because nothing inside a KFC snack box remotely resembles anything derived from a living multi-cellular organism – chicken included.

Yet conversely, in this Twitterific age of instant information, a confessional culture has become the norm where “too much information” is never enough (we’re looking at you, Lily, Jordan, and the entire Kardashian family). If you’re burdened with a secret you need to unload don’t bother seeking a trusted confidante, just get online and clean your slate infront of an anonymous audience. Jilted bridesmaids and barmy bridezillas tell all on TruuConfessions.com, but the revelations are generally more salicious and creative on Post Secret – although it can be a tad NSFW… just a warning!

You know how obvious it can be when littlies try to lie, but they haven’t mastered the intricacies of body language and hiding evidence? One of the B&D team revealed the secret of her honest and obedient childhood: she grew up believing that if she told a fib, black spots would immediately appear on her tongue. Failure to clean teeth, shower, make bed and all those other tedious chores were caught out and remedied as soon as you could say “Poke out your tongue: BLACK SPOTS!”. OK, so it’s slightly hypercritical, but we think it’s a great one to add to the artillery of fantastical fibs you can tell gullible tots to keep them on the straight and narrow.

Prevarication, deception, call it what you will. Universally acknowledged as appropriate when prefaced with the questions pertaining to muffin tops (“I’ve just washed my jeans – do they look too tight?”) or culinary seasoning (“I slipped with the Chinese five spice – does it taste OK?”). Universally condemned in a court of law – no matter if you’re a Grammy-winning rapper or a millionaire author. In this competitive jobs market you might be tempted to “over-optimise” your skills and experience when writing your CV, but rest assured there are ways to side-step awkward issues without lying out your ass. If in doubt, check out recent Emmy-winning screenwriter Ben Schwarz’s succinct demonstration of “what NOT to do” when it comes to job interviews and prospective employers.

Posh might have 100-odd variations of the real mccoy – the classic Hermes Birkin handbag that is, starting price $7,600 – but the closest most of us will get to this is a dodgy imitation from Bali, Bangkok or Hong Kong. Not that we’d ever condone “luxury” products in shoddy materials – polycotton sheets gives us hives, honest to God – but when you’re comparing leather and suede Louboutins (£570) to those from the high street (£110) it makes you wonder what all the fuss is about. DISCLAIMER: For any loved-up readers planning surprise engagements, we’d advise against offering the fake Tiffany solitaire when you go down on bended knee… Some things just shouldn’t be faked, and diamond engagement rings is one of them.

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