Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Desperate House-dudes, this novel is for you.

Do men really want to read a novel with advice on how to do a load of laundry and learn new vacuuming techniques? Cook something other than a pack of Doritos? Load up a dishwasher and remember not to include paper plates? ? Well, Swedish appliance maker AB Electrolux seems to think so.

I found this little gem of an article by Alex Dobrota in today’s Globe & Mail (thanks to Dave M for pointing it out).

In an attempt to reach the “newly-single male” segment (otherwise know as the Archie Bunker 2.0 set), Electrolux commissioned a 171-page novel about a recently dumped guy who’s girlfriend/wife packed up all the appliances on her way to independence. Because no self-respecting woman can face her new life without her blender by her side.

Here is how the initiative was explained:
“ the company came up with a plan to publish a novel chronicling the hardships of one such young man in dealing with the single life and working the brand name into the work.
Men in Aprons, Electrolux's brazen attempt to win the hearts of young males, is the latest twist on a new sales strategy called viral marketing, one expert said.
And while the Swedish company is not a pioneer in this field, it's on the cusp of a trend that could revolutionize the marketing world, said Alan Middleton, an assistant marketing professor at York University.”


I think Prof. Middleton is off here. This is not viral. It is long form content using product placement that may contain word of mouth potential. And, I don't agree that it is controversial. Controversial is creating a version of FHM or STUFF with scantily clad ladies (or the equivalent for men for the gay market) playing house with some bullet point tips on doing the chores.

I am really not trying to be overly critical of Electrolux. I applaud them for moving into newer forms of marketing and testing out the non-traditional concepts. I'm just not sold that this novel approach (full pun intended) is the right combo. Does the demographic information on this niche segment indicate they have time to read given all the cooking and cleaning that they now face?

Now the bigger question: Is it any wonder these guys are recently single? Any self-respecting man I know pitches in, does the work around the house - complains a bit - but shows that we live in today’s world, not yesterdays.

And really, in a pinch, don’t these guys have Mom’s number?

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