Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Search for Exclusivity

I read somewhere (probably in Ad Age) that the makers of Grey Poupon mustard screen people who want to friend them on Facebook. If you don’t cut the mustard (sorry, couldn’t help myself), they ignore you. Apparently it’s all part of their marketing strategy to position themselves as the mustard for the upper crust. (Again, sorry.)

This gave me an idea. What if I announced that I’m screening people who want to follow my blog? Although quite a few of you read the blog, only a handful signed on as followers. Perhaps if I became more exclusive, it would give me cachet. Cachet usually leads to a following.

This seemed like a good plan, until I started thinking about how I would screen folks. I took a closer look at Grey Poupon, expecting it to become my paragon for screening. Here’s what I uncovered on their Facebook page.

GREY POUPON was founded in 1777 and… is generally regarded as the classiest condiment in the world. Their page had 64,309 “likes.” There was no apparent screening mechanism. Perhaps the Ad Age article drew so much attention they couldn’t handle the volume, so they opened the floodgates and let everybody in.

The “General Information” link gave a soupçon of this. Their “Rules of the Road” has four paragraphs and five bullet points wherein they: “…tip our hats to those who create a civilized community… where fans can share their passion for GREY POUPON mustard…” And so on, including legalese about giving them the unrestricted right to use whatever you post.

The final paragraph states: “For existing fans: if you do not wish to be a fan of the official GREY POUPON page… please feel free to “unlike” our page.” “Aha!” said I. They DID have a different mindset when they created their Facebook page. Those existing, prescreened fans were more “civilized” and likely to be put off by the hoi polloi allowed to post on the site now. This did not help me with my own screening, so I needed to move on.

Before I did, I took a gander at the historical list of commercials. I stayed just long enough to determine that the person who edits their Facebook page doesn’t know how to spell “rakish.” I would have clued them in to this error, but you need to “like” the page before you can post on it. There’s no way I’m engaging with hoi polloi who could never pass muster, much less mustard (from a Volkswagon Beetle window).

Back to my own screening criteria. Here are some things I feel I have a right to expect from my blog followers. They should know how to spell “rakish” and they should look good in a hat set at a rakish angle. They should be able to tell the difference between hoi polloi and swells at a distance of 100 feet, which means they need to know what a “swell” looks like.

I’d like them to know how to make a kickin’ pot of vegetarian chili and to be able to say “thank you” in at least one language other than English. They should have a stash of those recyclable grocery bags in the trunk of their car. They don’t talk in a loud voice on their cell phone when they’re in public, and they know when (and how) to turn it off. They brake for animals; they do NOT speed up.

Conversely, here are some deal breakers. Have you ever caught a fish with your bare hands? Collected empty beer cans to make a piece of furniture? Do you have more than three tattoos? Are any of them larger than 4” across? Would you look right at home in a WalMart? Even if that Walmart were in Alabama or Mississippi? ( Especially if it’s in Alabama or Mississippi?) I don’t have to tell you what a “yes” to any of these means.

Finally, here are a few multiple-choice questions to test your suitability to follow me.
1.     Which of the following do you consider a culinary treat?
a)    Ahi sashimi
b)   Squirrel stew
c)    Eggplant rollatini
2.     Your window box garden is now growing:
a)    Fresh basil
b)   Weeds
c)    Weed
3.     Your favorite summer footwear is:
a)    Merrell or Teva sandals
b)   (For men) Tube socks and Birkenstocks; (for women) flip-flops
c)    Tennies or boat shoes

If you answered any letter b, you’re too déclassé; don’t even apply. If you answered any letter c, I’ll put you on my waiting list, but don’t hold your breath (and don’t inhale…). The rest of you can fill out my screener online. Be sure to attach a photo of you in a hat set at a rakish angle.

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