Hilary Parker

Moosejaw + Zingerman’s = FUN

In Uncategorized on September 30, 2011 at 5:10 pm

When I was measuring out the last of my eldest daughter’s antibiotic medication this morning (we’re going through Infant in Day Care-itis, meaning at least one member of our family has been sick with something for the past six weeks), it occurred to me how little “fun” there can be had with prescription labels.

Take One Tablespoon By Mouth Twice A Day.

First of all, what’s with the caps? Second of all, when did we need to dumb-down “orally” or “daily?” That’s just sad. But what’s worse is this: This bottle is representative of all the space in the world in which flashy turns of phrase and plays on words are verboten. It’s an example of yet another “no fun zone” in our lives. Granted, we don’t really need more confusion in the medical arena; that’s what insurance companies are for.

But we do need to put our collective foot down and have fun where possible with language.

That’s why I love to see fun, flirty, even flippant language from corporations. Moosejaw is a fave; this Madison Heights, Mich.-based sportswear company will never be accused of taking itself too seriously with copy like this recent promotion of its softshell jackets (“YDKWYGATAGT”? You bet I clicked.) or this link that promises to throw in a diagram for the best way to butter toast under the “Current Promotions” CTA. The company is currently offering $10 off your next order if you complete a survey, but really, I should pay them for making it fun with selections like “I’ve never bought anything from Moosejaw, but I do like your hair” and this strange question:

3. When shopping for new shoes, what type of smells do you prefer?

Autumnal morning mist
Strange feet smells
Bacon and eggs
Why smell when you can taste?

I can occasionally get my crack my favorite North Face jacket cheaper elsewhere, but I remain loyal to Moosejaw because really, we need more fun in the world. In fact, I recently ordered another of these jackets but it turned out they were out of my size. Moosejaw alerted me via e-mail AND called my house to make sure I knew the trouble with my order and help me resolve it. When I told the nice woman on the phone that I’d already ordered a different color, she said, “That one will look better with your eyes, anyway,” and hung up, but not before issuing me a command to “Rock on!” I had to smile.

Another company way ahead of its time is Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, Mich. The people who brought you the brilliance that is the Reuben Sandwich Kit and the Food Coma Gift Box have a long history of breaking the rules. Who else in their right mind would start a mail-order gourmet food business and not use photos of the food? These cartoon-loving maniacs are laughing all the way to the bank, with artisan cheese in one hand and freshly-baked, crusty-as-the-day-is-long bread in the other.

But it’s not just the cartoons that set them apart; their sincere love for — OK, borderline stalker-like worship of — great food comes through in the copy. And it’s not because they have some overpaid ad agency (or lucky freelancer, unfortunately) spending hours getting the tone just right, but because the guys who run the company source the products and write about them personally. With all the jittery devotion of a peeping Tom (and I say that with love, because who doesn’t like attention?).

It all boils down to one word: Passion. Moosejaw has a passion for gearing people up for their adventures with memorable, personable customer service. Zingerman’s has a passion for great food and, unlike so many of us (OK, me), is willing to share their finds with the world.

Passion can’t solve the current global economic crisis, and it won’t broker peace in the Middle East. But it sure makes life more fun. Here’s to more fun!

Have a safe, happy, fun weekend. But make sure to save some fun for the work week, too.




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