Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sky Mall

16 Sep 2008

I hadn't looked at a Sky Mall magazine for several years. This is the catalog in the seat pocket of most airlines, offering all kinds of mostly useless, but often expensive gadgets: kitchen ware, health-care, safety and fitness equipment, ugly personalized items.

As I'd expected, there were more electronic items than there used to be. But I was surprised to see how many pages were devoted to pet supplies. Pet needs are now almost equivalent to baby needs. There are several kinds of beds: krypton beds, beds for hot weather, beds for cold weather. There are training aids to keep you pets OFF the furniture and steps or ramps to help aged animals get ON the furniture. Electronic devices keep stray animals out of the flower beds in your yard. There are grooming tools. What about a decorative litter box to insure privacy for your cat, or a special tray with plastic turf for the relief of your dog? (I wondered how this one was emptied. I can't imagine carrying a shallow tray filled with two liters of urine, the advertized capacity.)

If you have an indoor pet, there are all kinds of gates to keep it from going into forbidden parts of the house. Most amazing was an end-table that also served as a cage. Under what circumstances would you want to cage your pet in the living room? If you have guests who don't like dogs, put the animal in another part of the house! If you travel with your pet, you may need a barrier to keep them in the back seat of the car or a harness (like a seat belt) or a booster chair so they can see out the window. If you're walking, take your pet in a special stroller. But then the darling might need a special diet to keep from gaining too much weight!

The people who write the descriptions of the items in the catalog must be encouraged to use adjectives in the titles. Some describe a functionality of the item: wireless, telescoping, configurable. Other adjectives describe a superior quality: corrosion-resistant, unbreakable, reusable. But most of the adjectives have no direct relationship to the item they are supposedly describing and are employed only to create a desire for the object: genuine, original, superior, natural, ingenious, exquisite, understated, serious, stylish, luxurious, collectable, unique, magical, exclusive.

The wording in the descriptions of personal care items went far beyond using meaningless adjectives. It was very carefully crafted to AVOID any claims about what a particular device would do. Instead, if you bought the device, YOU would be empowered to promote, improve and support well-being, and to relieve, chase and eliminate whatever problems plagued you.

I suppose people buy things from the Sky Mall catalog, or they wouldn't continue to print them. At best, they provide some ironic amusement for bored passengers.


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