Friday, August 20, 2010

Neither Fire Nor Ice

Frost's poem about the end of the world notwithstanding, I believe I've found one of the signs of the Apocalypse: Ralph Lauren has launched "the world's first shoppable children's book": "The RL Gang." And somewhere in the world another child closes a book; only this time it's not because the story's no good, it's because Mom (it's always Mom, never Dad) cannot afford the $250 ruffled wool blazer.

Fortunately for my blood pressure their site appears to be down, but here's a YouTube clip of ... what, a trailer? an ad? the "shoppable" experience itself? A lurching hybridized horror assembled by a committee of overpaid ad executives choosing focus groups over the courage of morals?

Maybe I'm not being quite clear enough. I have noted my ambivalence toward e-Books (they're not for me, but what do I care as long as people are reading?); my impatience with the rote vampiromances that I feel like I've read and seen before even hearing about them; my vexation at books that don't try, that don't take risks, that don't carry us to places outside our normal comfortable lives.

But this -- a "shoppable" children's book -- tops them all. "It's never too early to teach kids to shop online," crows one executive. My response? "What you mean is that it's never too early to teach kids there's no escaping the pressure to consume, even in a book."

My god. There's only one vaccine against this sort of thing: to write good -- and I mean good -- literature to stand in opposition to seductive and powerful advertisements cloaked in the still-warm skin of a book.


Kenneth said...


But... but... HARRY CONNICK is involved in the project! It MUST be credible!

Maybe you should think more subversively. Maybe you can write a high quality literary children's or YA story that ALSO happens to be shoppable! (Hm, I smell a retirement job for myself in this...)

No, I'm SURE it would work, just like doing an A-list high production value movie about the Roman emperor Caligula that ALSO happened to be hardcore porn "worked" (actually I believe it was a critical and box office disaster)... but really, you can look it up, it actually happened, starring Malcolm McDowell and Helen Mirren and a host of other RSC and RADA types in the 70's.

Babs said...

Here! Here! Say What??? Give me Blueberries for Sal anyday!

S R Wood said...

I think we have it backward. Start with the Product, then focus-group your way into demographic slices (making sure to verb your nouns along the way). Isolate the demoslices, identify vertical penetration vectors, and write the "book" / launch the campaign.

Ugh. I need a shower.

Anonymous said...

Shower? Actually it just sounds like you're leveraging your core competencies!