Wednesday, December 10, 2014

“Solving upper-class problems since 1912.”

While I was thumbing through last week’s New Yorker, a couple of ads caught my attention.

One was a full-page, full-color, full-sized head shot of a man. A black man wearing dreads. The man is pulling his lips down, and on his lower lip the words PINE BROS. are printed.

Pine Brothers? I asked myself. As in those first cousins to the Smith Brothers? As in cough drops?

At the bottom of the page it read “Love your Brothers” – Waka Flocka Flame.

I suspect that, if I have one thing in common with the average New Yorker subscriber, it would be that I have no idea in the world who Waka Flocka Flame might be. (We would only know his name if there’d been an article on him in the mag, one of those articles geared at keeping old fogeys up to date on celebrities, in case we missed this week’s People or the latest Access Hollywood.)

But I was quickly able to find that he is a rapper, and that he has recently replaced Martha Stewart as the spokesperson for Pine Brothers softish throat drops.

Talk about shaking things up.

Admittedly, Martha is not without edge herself, orange being the new black and all that. But the shift to Waka. Wow. (Or, as stoners used to say, Oh wow.)

Waka is certainly an interesting dude, one who “this year started a search for his own personal blunt roller, offering $50,000 a year.”  Who said there aren’t any more solid, entry level middle class jobs out there? Anyway, Waka can afford  to pay to get his blunts rolled, especially if he’s being paid anywhere near the $1 million Martha was supposedly getting.

The Waka video ads, which were “shot the weed-loving Waka in the smoke filled house from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” were banned by NBC and CBS.

The clip shows Waka alone on a couch, surrounded by puffs of smoke. Amid the fog, he says, “Can’t live without my Pine Brothers, straight up.” Shooting a knowing glance at a plume of smoke, he adds, “Next time you need some throat relief — for whatever reason — get your Pine Brothers.” (Source: PageSix.)

While “our” ads are a bit more subtle, who knew that The New Yorker audience could be hip and happenin’ enough to be graced with the presence of Waka?

The other ad of note was for Manhattan antique dealer S.J. Shrubsole.

One might infer from the somewhat starchy name S.J. Shrubsole that the company would have an advertisement that was somewhat prim and proper.

Oh, no, they didn’t…

In fact, their ad – one-third page, black/white/greyscale – was captioned “HAVEN’T GOT A POT TO PISS IN?”

Well, you would if you had $125K to fork over for the pictured “Rare George II Champerpot made for the Earl of Warrington.”

That would be some conversation piece, but who wants to have to polish up a sterling silver chamberpot, even one that had been doused by the Earl of Warrington?

The ad doesn’t stop with the pot to piss in.

Right underneath the picture of the chamberpot is a second headline: “WIFE KNOWS OTHERWISE?”

And beneath this caption are a couple of art-deco bracelets ($75K, $82.5K) are shown.

In truth, while The New Yorker demographic is plenty upscale, I suspect it’s not exactly laden with folks who routinely spend $125K for a collectible, whatever its pedigree, or $82.5K for a bracelet, however lovely. Probably about the same proportion of readers who kick back and blunt roll while watching Waka Flocka.

Shrubsole makes no bones about its demographic.

The Shrubsole tagline?

Solving upper-class problems since 1912.

I suppose they do solve some upper-class problems – like what to get for the man who has everything, especially if he has had a secret man-crush on the Earl of Warrington for years. But it doesn’t solve other exceedingly difficult challenges that I upper-class New Yorkers have had to overcome since 1912.

Why, the very year 1912.

How would Shrubsole have helped a first class gentleman decide whether to give his space on the Titanic's last lifeboat to the pregnant young woman from steerage?

Does Shrubsole make house calls if you need your tie tied for a white tie do? Can they help you decide where to buy in the Hamptons? Can they help get your kiddo into the right pre-kindergarten? Tell you how much to tip the doorman?

Perhaps a more appropriate tagline would be “solving some upper-class problems since 1912.”

Truth in advertising, bros. To put it bluntly.

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