When I was in high school, trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life – because it makes sense to expect a 17-year-old to be able to pull that off (but that’s a topic for another article) – one of my teachers suggested marketing. At the time I shot it down because I can’t draw and thought that was a requirement. Now I’m just as glad I did, considering how messed up the advertising world has become.
Take this quote, for example.
This material although labelled removable is actually a permanent application that has the unique feature of being safely and easily removed up to four years later to restore an item to its original finish.
I got it from a Kimpex catalogue. Kimpex sells accessories and gear for ATVs and snowmobiles and the like. Real outdoorsy stuff. I’m not the slightest bit outdoorsy, so it’s not the kind of thing I’d normally look at, but Ron was an outdoorsman when we first met. He hunted, and had an ATV and a canoe, and spent a lot of time at the camp.
Well, I say I’m not outdoorsy, but I did help build an outhouse for the camp once.
Never used it, though.
Anyway, Ron used to get the Kimpex catalogue, and this was the product description for some sort of peel-and-stick camouflage covering for your ATV. He roared laughing when he read it and shared it with me because he knew I’d appreciate the utter stupidity.
I thought it was equal parts hilarious and sad. Hilarious that the manufacturer was trying to have things both ways. And sad that it appeared words no longer mean what they mean.
I assumed the product was intended to be removable, but after a time, the adhesive dried out to the point that it got permanently stuck. But rather than admit the failing, or continue to work on improving it, marketing suggested they spin the negative as a positive. The result? The self-contradictory advertising copy above.
Many, many years later, chatting with a technologically savvy friend, Apple came up in the conversation. Mention was made about how, for many years, they touted their computers as unhackable. Or maybe it was never hacked. Being non-technologically savvy, I don’t remember exactly. But the upshot, as my friend pointed out, was that the main reason Apple could make that claim at the time was that not enough people were using them to make it worthwhile to hack them. Apple had run with that negative – low sales – and created an entire ad campaign spinning it into a good thing – no worries of being hacked.
It was exactly the same premise as I’d noticed in the Kimpex catalogue, and it broke my brain all over again.
Yeah, 17-year-old me made the right call.
To see previous posts in my Quotes series, click here.