Apple's 1984 spot. Wendy's "Where's the beef?" The crazy hot Old Spice dude. Advertising has long been a vehicle for artistry in visual media as well as for cutting edge humor. And crazy hot shirtless guys. But even today, advertising for quilt-related products tends to be pretty dull. There seems to be a tradition of not wanting to rile up quilters too much—I mean, I assume this is why most quilt books read like they are written by the teacher in Ferris Beuller. ("Anyone? Anyone? Voodoo economics.") And sure, we deal with beautiful fabrics and patterns and so some visual interest is bound to occur in an ad without anyone really trying. But as far as I can tell, there have been no truly creative ad campaigns in all the time that I've been quilting.
Way back in, oh, 2008 or 2009, one longarm company dared to buck the trend of dull, predictable advertising. One rogue business declared that they and they alone would rise above the dreck and create an ad with story, with drama, with—dare I say? yes, I think I dare—heart. I do not know how the masterminds who dreamed up this magnificence referred to their creation, but I have always thought of this ad as: What The Fuck, Martha?
Let's examine this brilliance more closely.
In this top panel, we have your average home sewist (Tiffany, perhaps?) happily stitching away on curtains THAT ARE ATTACHED TO THE CURTAIN ROD. She has just grabbed the nearest fabric and started in on it because that's the kind of guerrilla quilter she is. She doesn't have time to shop, or plan, or even cut fabric, dammit, because when the itch to stitch is upon her she will not be stopped. Sure, she looks calm, even serene, but right now she is a sewing beast and if you try to gently point out that she is acting like a total nutburger, she will cut you. You best just back off and thank the gods she didn't get a look at your new pants before she started in on those curtains.
But, then, this happens.
What the fuck, Martha? Martha has just shown up out of nowhere with a giant longarm setup, and has apparently vandalized Tiffany's curtains by cutting out a star shape that is only vaguely reminiscent of the stars she is quilting on. And Tiffany is all, "Explain this, bitch." And Martha is like, "Well I saw you just grabbing the curtains and stitching on them in a completely random spot and so I just assumed it was Do Inexplicable Shit to Curtains Day." And Tiffany's face gets redder as she responds through clenched teeth, "But I can't fix this, Martha. MY SEWING MACHINE WONT REACH THAT HIGH." And we are left to assume that Martha is either now dead or on the run, because nobody fucks with Tiffany's curtains.
Truly, has any other ad campaign in our quilty little world even come close to matching this one for sheer entertainment value? Did they hire an ad agency for this? Because there is so much about this that screams "I have no idea what quilters actually do so Imma take a guess." But then somebody at the longarm company had to look at this campaign proposal and approve it. Someone high up in the ranks kicked his feet up on a desk, tented his fingers under his chin, and considered the tale of Tiffany and Martha until he finally leapt to his feet and shouted, "YES. This accurately represents our product AND our brand! Now, bring me brandy for my snifter and a pretty secretary for my lap" Both of those people, whoever they are, are geniuses in my eyes.
And to this longarm company, I plead: Bring back Tiffany and Martha. The world of quilt product advertising today is a barren wasteland, devoid of the kind of head-scratchingly awesome storytelling you managed in one beautiful print ad so many years ago. Bring them back and continue their utterly nonsensical tale. Do it for the quilters. We need you.
And maybe add in a couple crazy hot shirtless dudes. That often works too.
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