Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A Midsleeper's Wet Dream Becomes Marketing Nightmare

'Everyone' is talking about Woolworths pulling the Lolita bed; The Marketing Whore is someone, so she'll talk about it too.

The Lolita Midsleeper beds were designed for six-year-old girls and this unfortunate name ('Lolita', not 'Midsleeper' which I find dreadful ~ but I'm not British, so what do I know) has resulted in upsetting parents.



The main complaint seems to be that the name 'Lolita' on a bed implies that the youth which sleeps upon it is of little virtue ~ or will be perceived as such by others. This due to, in case you didn't know, "Lolita", the 1955 novel by Vladimir Nabokov, in which the narrator becomes sexually obsessed and then sexually involved with his 12-year-old stepdaughter when she seduces him. The icing on the cake is Lolita is not a virgin at that time either.

While the beds of ill repute were shown on the Woolworths' site, they were not an actual Woolworths product; this apparently caused part of the confusion in the handling of the complaints, as one of the upset parents received the following reply from Woolworths:
- they say they will 'pass my letter onto the buying dept' but also state
"Our aim is to attract a broad customer base of all ages and we make every effort to stock items, which appeal to the whole family. However, we also have to respond to customer demands and follow current trends. "
That one customer service kid hadn't heard of the book, or the two films, is a bit surprising... But it only gets worse as eventually that complaint, or another like it, was passed along and higher-ups confessed:
"What seems to have happened is the staff who run the website had never heard of Lolita, and to be honest no one else here had either," a spokesman told newspapers.

"We had to look it up on (online encyclopaedia) Wikipedia. But we certainly know who she is now."
It seems to me that someone should have known... I mean eBay and plenty of other sites actually forbid the word 'Lolita' from appearing in listings & profiles (at least for specific categories) and also police word combinations and content, just in case it would appear that you are trying to market to and profit from pedophiles.

Anyway, the product's been pulled and the world is safe from tramp-making beds.

The bad news is that selling Bratz dolls and thongs to little girls is just fine. As a culture we've decided that marketing to and profiting from turning girls (and boys) into sexually active preteens is fine and dandy. Not only do parents buy into it, they actually buy this stuff.

I just don't get that.

The good news is that there finally is a marketing horror story to put in textbooks ~ even if it's not based on literal translation.

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Grab The Bookmarketer For Your Site

1 Comments:

Anonymous Val Gryphin said...

I always surprise people when I tell them I actually like Bratz - and hate Barbies. Reason being, Bratz aren't supposed to look like real proportions, Barbies on the other hand are about perpetuating the stereotypical "perfect" body. Long discussion there. I do disagree with selling sexy clothes to kids, including thongs, and ESP. with suggestive sayings on them.

The beds themselves, the marketing department couldn't be *that* ignorant - it just backfired. As much as it really is just a name, I don't think that I'd be able to bring myself to purchase such a bed for my daughter as that connotation would always be there.

February 7, 2008 10:27 PM  

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