That’s my nephew. He’s 17. He currently has a girlfriend, a car, a cute dimple inherited from his Mom, a great sense of humor, intelligence and a sound heart. In case you couldn’t tell, I think he’s swell.
(NO FAVORITISM ZONE: My 14-year-old niece has all of these qualities and her own special ones, too, but I was unable to wrestle her into a photo. Stay tuned. I am undeterred.)
As part of my own personal research and for the good of the great advertising and marketing community, I thought I’d share a few insights from my long weekend with the teenage set.
Why say it when you can text it? OMG, LMAO, TTFN.
Thankfully, there’s still an appreciation for ’80s music. (My nephew LOVED the mix CD I made for my sister, although he grew a bit weary by the end of the 9-minute version of Donna Summer and Bab’s “Enough is Enough.”)
Hollister, American Eagle and Abercrombie seem to be among the preferred uniform.
Energy drinks are huge.
Teenage boys can still eat an incredible amount of food in very little time.
When it comes to communication or information, well, to quote Carrie Fisher, “instant gratification takes too long.”
Video games look like movies. (Be nice to me. I still remember PONG.)
Parents can still be horribly embarrassing.
Allowance has risen with inflation. (In fact, I am now considering letting someone adopt me.)
Driving = freedom. (Even when your aunt is in the passenger seat, as long as she’s not embarrassing you.)
This poem was inspired by a story my friend Penny told me about the sweater she attempted to buy for her sister many Christmases ago.
Now. As you know, I’m a writer.
I sell. I market. It’s part of what I do.
This poem is a wee slap in the face to all that.
My Sister’s Sweater
My sister wants this sweater from The Gap.
You probably know which one it is.
It’s the one in all the commercials.
Therein lies the problem.
There’s nothing really remarkable about this sweater.
It’s a basic, wool, cable knit sweater that could’ve been knit in 1978.
Perhaps the trouble started with the commercials.And that white background.
Can’t you just picture the marketing people sitting around a table brainstorming?
Let’s just keep it simple.
Show the clothes on real people.
Just a clean, white background.
Let’s not kid ourselves.
These are not real people.
These are actors, models, musicians, dancers—professionals.
They were handpicked for this gig.
The clothes they’re wearing are tailored to fit their bodies.
To look as sassy, sexy and cool as possible.
They’re on screen to make you want that sweater.
Or button down shirt.
It’s a total conspiracy to get you to buy.
Remember that West Side Story commercial?
You sang ‘When you’re a jet’ all week.
Or how about the one with Carole King and her daughter?
Or the one with Seal?
Or any of the other celebrities stuffed into their jeans and sweaters?
How much does one get paid for a Gap commercial anyway?
Which brings me back to the problem at hand.
This sweater for my sister.
It costs $48 dollars.
This is a lot of money for a basic sweater
This same sweater at Old Navy costs $20 to $30
The sweater is made in Sri Lanka
It probably cost 2 bucks to make because
They’re undoubtedly paying some poor soul slave wages to make this crummy sweater
So not only am I getting rooked for $48, but I’m also oppressing someone
Great. Happy Holidays.
All of this is on my mind when I walk into the Gap to purchase the aforementioned sweater.
Oppression, marketing, showtunes.
I was hoping the sweater would be on sale.It wasn’t.
One of the Gapettes approached me.
“It’s a great sweater, isn’t it?”
“Is it on sale?”
“Um, it was—last week. Not now.”
“Why is that do you think?”
“Well, I’m not sure. We don’t have any sales for the 2 weeks before Christmas.”
“Do you know why that is?”
“I’m not sure.”
“I’ll tell you why.”
Because the Gap is committed to gauging the American public.
This sweater has been on t.v. more than Madonna.
It’s on every billboard and in every magazine.
This sweater is hot.
It’s the sweater.
And you know that we all want it.
So you’re holding it hostage.
The ransom is $48.
It’s a small robbery, but a robbery nonetheless.”
“Tell you what,” the Gapette says,
Clearly fearing that I have an automatic weapon.
“We’re running our friends and family discount this week.
Do you know anyone or have any relatives who work for the Gap?”
I look her in the eye.“I know YOU.
Do YOU want to be my Gap friend?”
She looks right back at me and you know what she says?
I left the store.
I went online where the sweater is on sale.
I click; I purchase.
My sister can be cool.
Which is just the biggest crock, isn’t it?
That stupid little label with the 3 letters.
That label could just as easily say ASS or ICK
Somewhere along the line the decision was made that the Gap is cool
That this sweater, is cool.
Who made this decision?
Because honestly, I’d like to have a word with them.
Remember when the Gap used to sell jeans and t-shirts for reasonable prices?
Fall into the Gap.
It’s no Gap.
They should call it the Abyss.
More accurately the Vapid Abyss of Inane Nonsense—acronym VAIN.
See what I just did?
Ya know what’s funnier?
This f@cking sweater will be worn once by my sister
She will wear it to a bar, drink her face off and possibly puke
On this sweater
This sweater will end up as an unrecognizable ball on the floor of her room
Take a good look at this sweater
Because by Christmas 2011
That familiar white background will appear on your t.v.
And suddenly Bjork will go singing and dancing across your screen
Wearing a sweater
And it won’t be this sweater
It will not be off white
It will not be cable knit
Because in 2011 this sweater is over
Bjork’s retro 80s sweater debacle will become the sweater
That my sister will just have to have