May 24, 2010
What a difference an owner makes!
Okay, time to put on your Mad Men thinking caps. This is (really, no kidding) a junk mail postcard that was sent to "current resident" (that's me!) by a venerable Utah institution. (Hey, I only wish I got more junk mail like this.)
It's a decade old by now (I stumbled across it cleaning out old archives), so keep that in mind when answering the following questions:
• Trick question: What venerable Utah institution?
• Bonus points: What's the winsome lass selling?
Before getting to the answer, some ruminating. Although men are stereotyped as the targets of "suggestive" material, especially in the (mainstream) print media, you are far more likely to find (mostly) unclad women in fashion/glamor magazines.
This particular piece of junk mail was certainly not aimed at me.
Many years ago, I was a very green missionary sitting in the venerable Fuji Bank in a Tokyo suburb getting my cash card account opened (Japanese banks don't do personal checks), casually flipping through the equivalent of Good Housekeeping while I waited.
And, bingo! There was a similar ad. Only without the demure Photoshopping (if you know what I mean).
A few months later, a Japanese businessman stopped by the missionary apartment and invited us all out to dinner (this was the Senzoku apartment, so there were six elders). He was a member and had just opened a restaurant in Salt Lake City.
After dinner, we stopped by a cozy little place not far from the church for dessert. There, on the second floor, about a dozen feet away from our table, adorning at least half of the wall, was a backlit, life-sized poster of an attractive young woman in a swing.
Wearing nothing but a smile.
Our benefactor took absolutely no note of it. So the rest of us pretended not to too. Because, you know, that would be rude. (Again, this was a perfectly respectable establishment in the perfectly respectable part of town).
And finally the answer: the venerable Utah institution is ZCMI, which used to be owned by the Mormon church. The trick in the question is that ZCMI was sold to May's a little over a decade ago (now it's Macy's). Here's the ad copy:
Experience Magic by Prescriptives, an extraordinary new concept that optically transforms the skin. Introducing the Concealing Wands--customized special effects tools that instantly retouch dark circles, breakouts, broken capillaries and other imperfections to optically airbrush the skin.
Well, ugh. I'll flip the card over and gaze at the winsome lass instead.