Sunday, October 21, 2007

Everything is Possible with Hope (Pearls of Wisdom from Mikimoto)

Marilyn might have sang that diamonds are a girl's best friend, but I've always been a pushover for pearls.

I'm especially partial to Mikimoto, the brand that is to pearls what Tiffany is to diamonds. Iconic. Classic. Overpriced.

In spite of the inflated price tag, I've had a yen to own a strand of Mikimotos ever since I first laid eyes on them on our first trip to Japan more than 20 years ago. But, alas, the closest I come to Mikimoto is their weekly ad in the New York Times Sunday Styles section.

With this in mind, I don't quite get why I found Sunday's ad (see below) a turnoff. How could I find fault with Mikimoto's "pearl of wisdom" ad copy, "Everything is possible with hope"? (Well, not to get picky, but is that really true? City of Hope's slogan, "There is always hope" is more accurate.)

And what could be more generous than Mikimoto donating 20% of the overpriced bracelet's $980 price tag to "fund the fight against breast cancer"? (Well, technically, the money is going to support the Young Survival Coalition, an excellent nonprofit dedicated to "action, advocacy and awareness," not research as the ad implies.)

Perhaps it's the pink thread that rubs me the wrong way. Call me old fashioned, but I think the thread used to individually knot pearls should be a subtle functional element, not a tacky design element.

Or maybe it's the yellow gold clasp and ribbon charm that's getting my goat. Mikimoto, like Tiffany, has always been partial to the understated elegance of white gold or platinum, and the yellow gold seems just a bit gaudy.

But I think the thing that really bugs me about the bracelet is its crass combination of conspicuous consumerism with conspicuous causes, or as Mikimoto puts it, "a luxe take on the cause."

What's next? Driving for the cause with a pink Cadillac embellished with ribbons? Vamping for the cause in pink Jimmy Choos?

Why does all of this make me a little blue instead of tickled pink? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this issue.

Click on ad below to enlarge.



11 comments:

Janet Aird said...

I think it's pretentious, too. What I can't stand is when companies throw in some French word to up the snob value.

Susan Carrier said...

EEEK! I just realized that other purveyors of luxury goods have jumped on the band wagon: Cartier, Van Cleef, Baccarat, etc.


http://www.shopdiary.com/2006/09/30/pink-luxe-buys/#more-164

Susan Carrier said...

PS And since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, you can even eat chocolate for the cause, thanks to a partnership between Hersheys and the Young Survival Coalition.

Suzy keleher said...

Is it really an opportunity for raising money for a good cause or raising profits and sales for the owners? By purchasing such items, is it really an opportunity to show that a person supports a good cause or just another way flaunt wealth? I am all for fund raisers but, to me, giving is supposed to be done in secret. If the person really wanted to support the cause and could afford the pearls, why not just donate the whole price of the pearls directly to the cause? Maybe we should have such incentives for giving blood. Thought provoking. Love you, Suze PS Pearls have always been my ultra fave too!

Susan Carrier said...

Thanks for helping me to articulate my reaction.

Suze, one of my first and fondest memories of you is sitting on the bunk bed in your dorm room and admiring the pearls that your dad purchased for you in Hawaii.

Karen said...

Interesting thoughts, Susan. I saw that ad, too, and noticed that it went well with the story in the same section about a NYC society maven who combines her philanthropy with being an "it" girl in high snob-appeal social circles. Her husband was rather critical of her.

Susan Carrier said...

Yes, you're absolutely right about the similarities between the article and the ad.

suzy keleher said...

Oh thank you thank you for reminding me of that precious time and of him! He also got me a necklace with a rare shell that can only be found in Hawaii! It looks like the eye of God in outer space...also a rare phenomenon. Like my Dad himself! Love you...

Emmy said...

yeah, when did it become acceptable to use cancer as a marketing tool?

Suzy Keleher said...

on the other hand...maybe some folks would not part with their proliferate pennies if they did not have a motivating trinket to entice them to do so...so let them buy the baubles if it means more money to the non-profits! love, suze

Lilli said...

I would love to see a case study on the marketing of breast cancer. Obviously, any cancer is a horrible thing, but it fascinates me how the pink ribbon is now used to market so many products to women.

The good news is, this demonstrates that companies realize how much buying power women have, and that being socially responsible sells. But it still proves that the money, whether it goes to a non-profit or a for-profit, still goes to those with the most sophisticated marketing effort.