Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Finding Wall Street Funny - Part 8

Caviar Emptor

What do Bedouins, bad neighborhoods and beachfront apartments with beach-less views have in common?

“They’re all things you are writing about for no money!”

Ah, the wife.

She’s right. But more importantly, they are all alluded to in our eternally-amusing Wall Street Journal Magazine April 2014 edition, in a string of advertisements so smooth and slick you’d think you were being hit on by Barack Obama’s teleprompter.

No Bedouins are seen in this magazine. No bad neighborhoods, no beach-less views. WSJ prefers images of diamond prenuptual agreement rings and confused metrosexuals sitting in the dark – images that obfuscate the truth of what’s being sold in these advertisements.

I say what could be more fun than to un-obfuscate the truth?

“How about un-obfuscating our mortgage situation?!”

Nah. Not nearly as fun. And so...

WSJ’s Ad Hominem: a 12-step deconstruction

1. Hello to Harry Winston and his Bridal Collection of rings. Yes, we know, the moneyed classes like to collect fine things. But this is a brilliant twist. Attention all you fantastically wealthy Wall Street thieves: You’re going to need a variety of rings so you can give each successive bride-to-be of yours a different kind. Save time by getting them all in one shot and get right back to your mortgage racket! Meanwhile all those ex-brides-to-be can look forward to collecting a variety of diamond rings from all their soon-to-be ex-husbands. The genius in this marketing ploy is not hard to see.

2. Louis Vuitton shows us ‘The Spirit of Travel’ (according to the inspirational caption). This particular brand of ‘spirit’ explains the pissed-off look on the woman’s face. Those stupid Bedouins, they walk around with their whole house on a couple of camels but they stare at me like none of them has ever seen a suitcase before. And this is barely one closet’s worth of clothing. Ignorant animals.

3. Why is the woman in the Celine ad laughing? God, you people think some woman is going to want a coat with two huge holes where her breasts are? But hey, I'll take the two grand an hour. The next page features shoes sporting this two-word bit of encouragement: “Love Life”. I guess if you can make money off breast-baring coats you can say life is good. Stupid, but good.

4.Ermenegildo Zegna, what the hell is going on your four-panel ad? First, a man standing sideways, glaring at us with apparent contempt. Very endearing. And what’s with the white bandages on the cuffs of his sport coat? Haven’t seen anything like it since Napoleon. Next we get a man with no bandage around his cuff putting his hand on our contemptuous friend’s shoulder, perhaps in sympathy for his horrendous fashion sense. Intriguing concept Joel but images of a botched suicide tend to take away from the conversation. Third frame, three hands resting on an extremely anal-retentive person’s desk. Maybe Rainman works there. Fourth frame, our scorn-filled doughnut is back, now standing square to the camera, angry as ever that (a) someone is dressing him like Napoleon or (b) someone just talked him out of his suicidal endeavors.

5. Dolce & Gabbana reaches out to the bored housewife segment of WSJ’s readership by showing off the ostensible benefits of their Red 620 lipstick. A fire engine red to overshadow the worst hair day and make you look every bit the upper-class, middle-aged whore you always believed you could be!

6. Omega boasts that every Apollo astronaut wore their ‘Speedmaster Professional chronographs’ all the way to the dark side of the moon. First of all, what the hell is a chronograph? Second, how can the same people who make these things make the simple mistake of calling one side of the moon dark? Helloooooo, it’s all dark, have you never listened to Pink Floyd?

7. TOD'S must be banking on name recognition because I can’t tell from the picture what they are selling. Clothing? Shoes? A chair? Handbags for metrosexuals? Dim, abandoned office spaces? The unintended effect: wearing or carrying or sitting in Tod creates such ennui in a man that he ends up facing away from a half-naked Scarlett Johansson.

8. Giorgio Armani sunglasses’ “Frames of Life” stars this guy in all black, including his neo-modern samurai hair, standing on some kind of industrial waterfront that could be the murder scene in any movie involving guys whose job is to kill people. Change the working title to “Frames of Death”. What fun!

9. The Royal Mansour of Marrakech, whatever that may be, offers this full-page ad showing a white-gloved hand pinching the brim of one of two crisp white hats like the villain in the first Indiana Jones movie wore. I’ve been to Marrakech. Good luck keeping that white hat white.

10. Citi, the con-artist formerly known as Citibank, spews forth: ‘Why strengthening communities should be a bank’s business.’ In their self-aggrandizing blurb meant to bleed humility: “Developer Jonathan Rose has a vision: Rejuvenate neighborhoods to create affordable and environmentally responsible housing close to jobs, schools, parks, healthcare and mass transit.” This aimed at a readership whose collective money-minded goal has resulted in the methodical destruction of the financial well-being of anyone who gives a shit about affordable housing or the environment. This magazine, remember, is written by people who see fit to admire someone who inherited then couldn’t handle the family fortune while pandering to those who see something venerable in spending $150K on a wall clock. In 2013 Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat made $14.1 million or $17.8 million, depending on your source. I’d say Mr. Corbat is likely less concerned with rejuvenating bad neighborhoods than he is staying as far away from them as he can. Just a guess.

I want to stop because I am about to puke again after just getting over the nausea induced by that story on Laudomia Pucci. But I will go on. Because I’d rather puke than stay silent in the face of this pile of fun and blither. Plus my wife thinks I’m working and keeps telling the kids to leave me alone for me.

11. Caroline Herrera seems to have found a fashion niche, catering to twins who never quite grew out of their mom dressing them in matching outfits. Today Madison has gone with sunglasses and without sleeves while her sister Marrakech shows off her eyes and covers her shoulders as they head out for another hopeful day of man-hunting.

12. A real estate developer whose name, as far as I can tell, is ‘1’ shows off its apartments at 2399 Collins Avenue in South Beach, Florida with this picture of a lush pad, giving the impression they all offer views of nothing but the ocean, visible outside the floor-to-ceiling windows. A realistic look at 2399 Collins Avenue, however, tells us the windows in most of those apartments look out on the delivery trucks on 24th Street or the construction equipment on 23rd. ‘Great places are defined by nature’ the ad tells us. Yes, and the rest of your places are defined by views of the pursuits of other developers.

I should have gotten into marketing bullshit to the moneyed. It looks so easy – if you can stand the vomit.

“Yeah and it actually pays the bills!”

Yes, Darling.

“And stop staring at Scarlett Johansson!”

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