Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Signs of the Times

An Estonian friend wrote recently from the states about all the "recession specials" advertised there. "But in Estonia," he noted, "we're too proud to use the word 'recession' in an ad."

The same day my friend wrote, I noticed the advertisement (at left) for the new Baltman collection. (For foreign readers, Baltman is Estonia's maker of conservative suits, something akin to Brooks Brothers in the West.)

To me, the ad sends signals of Sherman McCoy, Gordon Gekko, or, if you're really digging for the despicable, Patrick Bateman, the female-butchering protagonist from American Psycho. In other words, Baltman's antidote for the recession is to give us the 1980s.

The Estonian ad made me curious about what Brooks Brothers might be doing in the land where they boldly use the word "recession" and where, arguably, they've come more face to face with the ugly reality of this economy. And this is what I found:

Could it be a young Barack pulling out a chair for Michelle? In all cases, it's a kindler, gentler approach to selling a suit with some definite R-E-S-P-E-C-T, as Tina Turner likes to put it. But then again, Baltman isn't trying to sell suits in the West. Its main market is the East, a place where it's sometimes said that beating your wife is proof that you love her. But for Estonia? Aren't we more evolved than that?

Theories, anyone?