Uncategorized | April 11, 2012

I haphazardly applied to a few jobs this semester. One of them was a copywriting position for a clothing company whose dresses I would like to purchase, but could never justify if I want to keep buying fancy, glass bottle, hormone-free milk. It was not until after I sent my application into their cyberspace submission machine that I actually studied the clothing captions I would be writing. The template for the copy on this particular website went, “Awesome [article of clothing] featuring [clothing material]. Looks rad paired with [any pair of shoes or any belt]!” Variations replace “awesome” with “perfect” or “rad” with “amazing” and once, “totally hot.”

I did not hear back about my application because, I’m assuming, I did not pass the background check portion that detailed my order history of zero items purchased. A couple of the other sporadic jobs I applied for were not interested in my wardrobe, but impressed by my choice in milk so I think things worked out for the best. My nights spent filling internet shopping carts until they reach laughable totals hasn’t waned and now the result of applying for that job has only been to make clothing copy impossible for me to ignore. The photo below is not from the website I applied to that sells really expensive dresses. It is from a different website called ModCloth that sells pretty expensive dresses. Their punny product titles and “The Story” tab for each article of clothing rivals Elaine Bennis’ work writing for the J. Peterman catalogue on Seinfeld.

I came across the above dress on ModCloth’s website a few weeks ago and tried to like it just as much as I try to like every Molly I encounter, but the references to blogging, wallpaper, and The Story’s suggestion that I “hook a thumb on this dress’ self belt” were ultimately unappealing. I think a lot about how difficult it would be to write for this website. How many different ways could I describe an A-line, semi-retro dress? Do they have a bank of cutesy titles like “Cowl of the Wild Dress,” “Teal It In Dress,” and “Only Time Will Toile Dress” to choose from or does a copywriter have to come up with that within 24 hours of knowing the dress? I would stay awake nights trying to rhyme “pleat” with “please.”

Most of the time on this post was dedicated to think of a slant rhyme as mediocre as pleat and please, which means by the time I got around to writing a narrative about pockets, I would probably only have the creative capacity to come up with “totally hot.” The Story portion of ModCloth is the same tool that has been utilized in print long before I signed in to these websites. The J Peterman catalogue is not entirely Seinfeld fiction. As with most Seinfeld episodes, the show only portrays a more entertaining truth. The real J Peterman catalogue does provide an almost notoriously great example of the belief that a backstory on a product heightens its appeal. This article pokes fun at the discrepancy between J Peterman’s elaborate narratives versus the actual product. A short-sleeved linen shirt is captioned with:

“Anything was possible then. She took him hunting for blue crabs along Chesapeake Bay… They shook hands with Elektro The Mechanical Man. They gasped at the television-telephone in the Drug Store of Tomorrow…”

I like to think that I’m not the kind of consumer who gets taken by a paragraph that makes me visualize what it would be like to be the kind of girl who could drive with the windows down in a drop waist skirt. Then again, if the copy printed on the side of my glass milk bottles romantically referred to shaking hooves with a cow, I might be more inclined to try to be a hat person.