I get a lot of catalogs in the mail because of my work writing for retail trade magazines. Recently, I received one that branded itself as the place to get “the most popular” catalog merchandise. It had clothes, some cute home décor items, religious crosses, angel statues, baby items,garden gnomes and, of course–a deluxe vibrator.
Yes – a vibrator. Right on the page with the decorated walking sticks and the “I love my Grandma” tee shirts was an ad for a vibrator. Well, the catalog people called the device an ultimate massager for women but the description said “it is shaped especially for women with a thumb and forefinger design for ultimate pleasure”. And, honestly, it looked like it was meant to do a lot more than soothe sore muscles. I was taken aback. I have nothing against vibrators; I have watched enough episodes of Sex and the City to know how practical they are, but did this massager really need to be sold right next to old lady canes and the clothing bragging about how great one’s Grandma is.
So, I called the catalog company and asked who did the layout of the catalog because clearly this was a person who either didn’t understand what a women’s ultimate massager was all about or someone who got a thrill thinking that a much beloved Grandma needed the vibrator. The company representative looked at the page in question and began to laugh.
“I am so sorry if you are offended, Ma’am,” she said trying to hide a giggle. “Obviously, this was an oversight on our part.”
“Don’t get your panties in a bunch, Hon,” I responded. “I am not offended in the least. Hey, I think the world should be filled with vibrators. I am pretty sure people would be kinder to each other if their frustration levels were taken down just a smidge. However, I am just curious if the ad’s placement was done on purpose.” I explained that my curiosity stemmed from my work as a retail writer.
She laughed again and told me to hold and put me in touch with the person who laid out the catalog who admitted the “massager” ad came in at the very last minute and after a doing a bit of rearranging on the pages, that was the best spot for it. Admittedly, it could have been worse; the ad could have been placed next to the bible verse merchandise. The layout editor also said he didn’t notice the other grandma merchandise on the page as he was just worried about the size of the ads. I accepted this explanation and we chit chatted for a while and before I hung up, I reiterated that I was not offended–only curious because this product was so different from the rest in the catalog.
A few days ago, I got the funniest email from the catalog editor. It seems that I was not the only one who noticed the position of the vibrator – oops, I mean massager ad. One grandma noticed it as well when she was perusing the page looking at the decorated canes . Was she offended? No. She wanted to know if the massager came with directions.
This catalog will never go unnoticed in my house again. At one time, it was something to glance at when I was bored, but this last issue has made me wonder what other surprises the publishers have in store. I think offering the vibrator, i.e. massager and like items, would be a great way to see if your mailing list actually looks at your merchandise. The editor joked that he was going to try and get some more “surprise” merchandise placed in the catalog because the massager turned out to be one of their top-selling products.
I am not surprised it out sold everything else; nor do I judge. Whatever gives someone a reason to get up in the morning is okay by me. By the way, the catalog offered me a discount on the massager, but I declined. I guess I could have given it out as a bridal shower gift or the next “I’m divorced – let’s celebrate” party, but I am a little old fashioned when it comes to these products. I think they should be bought secretly behind closed doors and delivered to a house in brown paper wrapping – you know– the way God intended.