It had to happen some time, I suppose. After dodging the diamond drill bit for thirty-seven years, Kansas City has somehow given birth to its very own Ephialtes, an Arnold (Benedict, not the Austrian robot) who must have revealed to Tom Shane and minions a dusty, dirty, secret and most of all, effective, path, into the metro area. The Shane Company has, indeed, invaded our lands.

Founding the business in 1971, Tom Shane quickly sacrificed a nearby muse to the Beelzebub of Banality and started flooding the airwaves with commercials featuring his own voiceover work. You’ve heard them, no doubt. He earnestly assures that we now, after years of desolation and loneliness, have a friend in the diamond business. Without using the exact words, his folksy manner and attempt at awkward charm imply that Ye Olde Shane Company is a local business instead of the Denver-based bauble juggernaut it truly is.

My problem isn’t that he advertises, nor is it that he sells diamonds (dropped cleanly from the sky by Lucy, or bloodied gems from strife-ridden Africa), or even that his goal is to make wheelbarrows full of cash. No, my issue is the way in which he advertises; specifically, how he paints all women as shallow, flighty girls whose affections (and, you know, affections) can easily be purchased by shiny trinkets.

Me, I’m down with jewelry; I’ve no problem with engagement rings, cracked ice, rock candy, or pennyweights. If you like it, wear it. But, when your advertising campaign consists solely of radio ads aimed directly at, and talking directly to, men about how their wives or girlfriends will tear up once the tiny velvet box opens and the glistering commences, it’s time to leave the 1930s and come up with a new idea. Never mind that the advertising obviously works (Shane Co. is a laaaarge company), I would assume ethics would pop up with a “Whoa, horsey!” when trying to illustrate the women in his life by indirectly comparing them to gift-starved children. At least pretend you think women have some dignity.

Tom asks: Been married for 20 years? Reward her for her love and devotion. Pull her from the kitchen, force some shoes on her, let someone else do the laundry for the night because, damnit, twenty years of companionship deserves a diamond! Are there tears in her eyes when she sees that fantastic gem-encrusted choker? According to Tom Shane, it’s probably not because she’s immediately daydreaming of using those polished and pointy rocks to slash your car’s tires in an effort to steal away from such a limited and degrading view of her as a person, it’s because, finally, after all these years, she’s getting her payment. Want to show her how much the past few decades of companionship, laughter, tragedy, growth, compromise, sweat and triumph mean to you; how individual and unique you think your relationship is? Why, give her the Journey diamond necklace, a theme-oriented decoration that millions of other men are giving their wives. Show her how she’s different from all the other wives out there.

I suppose it wouldn’t be such a disappointing advertising campaign if Tom also advocated buying jewelry for men. (Shallowness is an equal opportunity noun.) Or, if he widened the market a bit and recognized that not all relationships are ones pulled from the black-and-white world of Ward and June Cleaver. But since the framework of his ads are always “buy something for your wife” it shows his disrespect for both genders and all relationships.

Or, at the very least, that’s how it should be seen.

Posted Friday, April 11th, 2008 at 1:12 pm
Filed Under Category: Life
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