New! Improved! And Exclusively Yours!

The things I do instead of Big Work That Matters often involve focusing on small details that I’ve been slow to learn the world at large cares much about. A case in point:

In the course of my freelance toils for the high-end household goods retailer that shall remain nameless, I came across this phrase, and variations thereon, used to describe a line of outdoor furniture: “rustproof aluminum.” I pointed out to the catalog editor that since aluminum doesn’t rust, and since most of the upper-income people expected to buy the furniture probably know that, it actually sounds kind of dumb to say “rustproof aluminum.” But it was explained to me that being rustproof is a selling point; thus it’s not enough to say something is aluminum — you need to say rustproof, too.

Another case: Asked to do a little historical research on the design antecedents for a reproduction lamp carried “exclusively” by the company in question, I quickly discovered at least a half-dozen other places carrying a lamp of identical design and so close in execution to the “exclusive” one that you’d almost need a forensic scientist to tell the difference. I wondered aloud whether, since so many examples of the lamp were so readily discoverable whether it really qualified as an exclusive. The answer, in a nutshell, is that the product is exclusive if the company says it is.

No lesson or moral, I guess. Just watching more words go the way of “new” and “improved” and “97.4 percent pure.”

6 Replies to “New! Improved! And Exclusively Yours!”

  1. Rust refers primarily to iron oxide or ferric oxide. It has nothing to with aluminum. I’m gonna’ buy that chair and give it someone as a free gift! For Christmas! Watch out! It could be yours and it would serve you right!
    All of that aside, I wonder how resistant it is to lightning strikes?

  2. Sean Hannity — please, just don’t even ask me why I listen to that sad excuse for a human being — labels every one of his interviews “exclusive.” He’ll say, “You won’t want to miss our exclusive interview with the great American, Zell Miller.” Or some such. Meanwhile, ol’ Zell, the mother-fucker, is being interviewed left and right (though mostly right).
    Meanwhile, you don’t want to know how many wines I’ve written up as “powerful yet elegant”…

  3. This is really a comment about JBs. remark using the phrase “free gift”. I worked for a Mail Order company that sprinkled some of their offerings with the term “Free Gift” rather liberally, causing some of us non-copywriters to ask if a “gift” wasn’t usually “free”?

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