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Yardsticks: Chapter 6

“We’re not even talking to those people. They should go to cheap rentals or gemachs”

 

“T

he goal,” said Avi Brachfeld, brandishing his Expo marker like a baton, “is to establish a climate of need.

“We can go on and on about elegance and beauty and special nights. But the message we must get across is: A Yocheved Lewin gown is something you need — not deserve, need, you can’t get married otherwise — that changes your entire identity, who you are as a brand. Anything less than a Yocheved Lewin gown is cheating yourself of a basic right — the right to own your wedding.”

Was this guy for real? I looked around the conference room, at the note-taking marketing team with their intense expressions. At my sister, nodding along with utmost earnestness, eyes trained on the Smart Board that was covered in colorful diagrams and mind maps. I contained a snort.

“And once we establish this need, this urgency, the customers walk into your lap like this.” He snapped his finger. “Like puppies.”

This was going too far.

I cleared my throat. Brachfeld lowered his marker. Yocheved raised her eyebrows. The rest of the team turned to face me as I stood up.

“With all due respect,” I started, “our gowns are not a basic right. We carry an exclusive, high-end line of designer gowns. We cater to the upper class. To tell your average kallah that she needs a Yocheved Lewin gown or she can’t get married, it’s… you can’t do that.

“Think about a girl who can’t afford it. You tell her this gown is a necessity, so you either break her heart because she knows she can’t have one or she’ll get into a huge fight with her parents over getting a Lewin gown. An engagement is a sensitive time. Everyone’s excited, nervous, overwhelmed. To add all this tension over a gown… it’s a crime.”

I pulled my chair out and sat down heavily. “I’m sorry, but your message is wrong. It’s simply not fair.”

Brachfeld stared at me, interlacing his fingers. I didn’t dare look at Yocheved. She was going to kill me. I didn’t want to know how much this consult was costing her. Silence hovered between us. My heart raced.

“I hear your concern,” Brachfeld said, collecting himself. “But that’s not our agenda here. We’re not targeting people who can’t afford these gowns — we’re not misleading anyone.”

Yocheved stood up. I shrank back.

“What Mr. Brachfeld is saying,” she said, glaring, “is that it’s not our responsibility that people suffer from peer pressure. We are elite and we target the elite. And if people don’t know where they stand financially, that’s their problem, not ours.”

“Exactly!” Mr. Brachfeld said, flashing the widest, fakest smile I’ve ever seen. “We’re not even talking to those people. They should go to cheap rentals or gemachs. As marketing experts, we know how to identify our target audience and deliver our message directly to them.”

“But if it’s a need for the rich, how can you tell the poor that they don’t need it?”

Nobody answered.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 650)

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