Thursday, November 17, 2022

Damp chaps

How nice to hear from Virginia in (I think) New Zealand? Yes, the well was supposed in the 1700s to have healing properties, and St Bernard of Clairvaux, founder of the Cistercian order in the 12th century was rumoured to live in a cave nearby. Mind you, I don't think there are any caves nearby, and if there were, they would be very damp, down in the river valley. The current structure was built in 1788. 

On another topic... I have for some years been mildly irritated by an advert from a bathroom company featuring a naked chap (back view) having a shower in a forest. This appears frequently (and has done for years) in the Scotsman magazine, somewhat putting me off my breakfast. On a whim, on Saturday after breakfast I emailed the managing director, suggesting that perhaps they could run a different advert now, such as one with an actual bathroom. Here are some extracts from what happened next.

To my surprise, the managing director replied about half an hour later (remember that this was Saturday morning): Thank you for taking the time to express your feelings regarding our Hermitage Shoot.

 I am sorry that you feel this way about our model; we do not intend to offend. Advertising is only helpful if it catches one's attention; therefore, this advert is one of our most popular. We could show images of bathrooms and kitchens, but we prefer clients to visit our award-winning showrooms to enjoy our beautiful displays.

 Please be assured if you were thinking of a new room, our naked man appears in print only.

 So of course I had to write back: Thanks for your impressively prompt reply. I can’t claim to be offended by the advert; just somewhat put off my muesli (and it does seem to have been around for several years). Ah well, tastes vary. I’m reassured that the naked chap isn’t part of the actual package.

 And the next day he replied: Thank you for your reply; are you referring to the advert being around for a long time or your muesli? You have brought to our attention that we need to push on with a new photoshoot; would you like to offer any ideas?

 So I felt I had to email back: Ah, no, my muesli is renewed frequently.

 I was discussing our email exchange with some friends this afternoon – all retired English teachers, who were amused – so that’s good publicity. One of them did suggest that you should have a cardboard cut-out of your naked chap in the showroom window (like those cut-outs of policemen which are said to reduce crime) to remind people of the connection between the advert and your company. I myself wouldn’t recommend this.

 Another wondered if the naked chap was you, which hadn’t occurred to me.

 As for the photoshoot – I’m a simple soul who would go for a picture of a smart bathroom, preferably without nakedness of any variety; though a delicious baby wrapped decorously in a towel would attract my attention in a good way.

 And he wrote: Good morning Pamela,

 Thank you for discussing my proposal with your friends; some fantastic ideas, especially yours. I love the cardboard cut-out idea too!

 I wish it were me modelling in the shower; sadly, my days of defeating gravity are over.

 You should go to youtube and watch the photo shoot video: The scenery is terrific. Please ignore my pathetic attempt in front of the camera, it was last minute, and I had nothing prepared.

 It has been lovely communicating with you, and thank you for your kind words.

 At this point I felt he must have better things to do, so attempted to end the exchange: How fascinating! I hadn’t realised that the photo was taken outside; I’d assumed that it was photoshopped. I do beg its pardon – I’m not very technical. I shall forward the link to my friends, who I’m sure will be very interested. That poor model, though, having water thrown at him. I hope he was well rewarded.

 I thought your presentation was excellent, especially if unrehearsed. In my working days I taught presentation skills as part of my job teaching English and Communication and yours was definitely a pass.

 (If the photoshoot was nine years ago, I expect the model has also succumbed to gravity by now.)

 Have a nice week - undisturbed, I hope, by critical newspaper readers.

 But no – he replied once more: It was a fantastic day! What makes it worse is the shower water was cold, as our portable generator failed. The model was so courageous.

 It has been a pleasure communicating with you!

 But I felt that was enough, so didn’t reply.

 I now feel that if we were in the market for a new bathroom, I might well go there. The managing director is my friend…

And this, I feel, is a fine example of how to mollify a disgruntled customer. Or in my case, not even a customer. 



  1. That is a very interesting and clever exchange. I enjoy people with senses of humor!

  2. Oh. My. Well, first of all, you should have warned me -- MAN IN KILT!!!! You have The. Best. stories - Always! Perhaps you could e-mail your new friend back (I think he's waiting) and mention that your American friend would appreciate his nature advert and would he mind contacting our local bed and bath shop to give them a few pointers? Our guys have THE most boring adverts -- Mr. Dull standing in a showroom rattling off tile statistics or something.

    Also, I can't wait to see the unbloggable quilts!

  3. That is fabulous, what an unusual thing to do on a Saturday morning! it sounds like a great ad to me, there's not much lollygagging about naked in the Australian wilderness, a bit high risk

  4. It is so encouraging when one is treated to a personal response. Maybe you should have continued the correspondence - there might have been an opportunity in the company for you in an advisory capacity. Great stuff!

  5. Oh My Word! What a delightful communication! I doubt that would ever happen here. We usually just get auto-generated "Thank you for your message. We will look into your comment." and never hear from them again!