I have something I want to show you all. Take a gander at this advertisement that found its way to my mailbox early this morning:
Now, y’all know I love Zappos as much as any red-blooded American shoe-loving woman can. The selection! The reviews! The searchability! The free overnight shipping! It’s like heaven made out of pixels.
“Live the casual life”? Is this something people need to be coached on via pictorial advert? I think not. No one needs encouragement to “experience the casual lifestyle” through the wearing of flip flops, Birkenstocks, Tevas, or any other kind of casual summer shoe. If you ask me (and no one did but that’s never stopped me before), the LAST thing people need is some sort of guide on how to look frumpy, sloppy, and lazy for the summer. I am pretty sure we have got that covered, Zappos.
Here in New Wye, it’s a shock to see anyone wearing pants with an actual zipper or pockets. If you see someone wearing real closed-toe shoes, you can bet your life those shoes are Topsiders. Around Wordsmith campus, it’s all Nike shorts, flip flops, sweats, Topsiders, Uggs, and baggy tee shirts. ALL THE TIME. We are up to our tits in the casual lifestyle already, thankyouverymuch. The only way it could get more casual would be if people started wearing Snuggies to class — and now that I’ve said that they probably will.
(Rare exceptions: nights out on the town, where they tend to still wear the shorty-short-shorts but pair them with stillettos instead of flip flops. I know. Edgy.)
Moving back to the advertisement, let’s take a look at these people:
And here is where they have moved beyond advocating the lifestyle of a shiftless layabout and gone into the territory of poorly-constructed and ineffectual salesmanship. “Cruise the boardwalk” in your ugly mandals? NO THANKS. And look at the zany ukulele guy on the right, will you? “Enjoy your friends,” commands the caption. While I most certainly would enjoy hanging around with my zany ukulele-playing friends if I lived near them (yes, I do have zany ukulele-playing friends, don’t you?), I hardly think the appropriate casual shoe would help me enjoy their friendship any more than I already do. Zappos seems to think otherwise. “Think back to when your favorite shoes made every outfit worth wearing and every experience worth having,” they write, revealing the sad, shallow lives their copy writers must live. If the only thing that made life worth living was having the right pair of shoes, and NOW THAT IS GONE BECAUSE THEY DON’T HAVE THE PROPER TOPSIDERS, how empty, how hollow must their souls now be? It’s a good thing Zappos is there to fill the void.
The next panel is just as bad:
“Love your life” – but only with the right wardrobe! Your friends will make you feel beautiful, they argue, by complimenting you on your new purchases. Once again, I fear, life will be brittle and joyless without the appropriate casual shoe.
Yeah, sure, this is the same subtext of nearly every advertisement out there. We’re asked to place ourselves in the position of someone who has purchased the relevant item, easily slipping ourselves into the pleasant, easy-wheeling scene depicted in the commercial. Buying the item brings happiness! That’s how it works. But, you know, like I said, that’s the SUBTEXT. Not the fucking TEXT. Thanks, Zappos, for your refreshingly literal take on this technique.
Perhaps their Teva-shod, elastic-waisted-shorts-wearing copywriters were too busy “experiencing the casual lifestyle” to bother employing metaphor.