Monday, February 04, 2008

And over here we have the Casanova

Marketing can be difficult. Not only do you have to come up with a clever way to convince people to buy things they probably don't need, but you also need to constantly be creating new ways of interacting with the world, at least for the consumers. Good marketing can put people at ease and make them feel good about their expenditures. Bad marketing can lead to riots and Gozer the Gozerian's rise.

Okay, maybe not. But bad marketing definitely can lead to complaints, and poor research by a marketing department often results directly in a poorly constructed campaign. Woolworths in Great Britain was recently reminded of that, all over a six-year-old girl's bed.

The problem with the child's bed? It carried the model name "Lolita".

That's right. The title character from the Nabokov story, the character practically synonymous with underage promiscuity (well, at least until Jamie Lynn Spears), the character who has been the subject of multiple movie treatments and a psychological diagnosis, was able to bestow her name onto a bed designed for a little girl, and, until they took the time to look on Wikipedia, the staff at Woolworth's didn't think anything of it.

While we can forgive the staff (somewhat) for not being familiar with the novel, we really have to wonder exactly what type of box their marketing department was kept in. After all, there should have been at least one person on their staff who had some sort of a faint recollection when the name "Lolita" was first bandied about, and that recollection should have prompted a web search, at the very least. Admittedly, when the issue was brought to their attention, the bed was quickly removed from their product line, so they do get some credit for acting quickly, but the entire situation could have (and should have) been avoided from the start.

What's next? Knives marketed under the name "Oedipus"? The "Ophelia" hot tub? And let's not forget the possibility of the "Arthur Dent" towel set.

Actually, that last one isn't such a bad idea.

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