An open letter to Slam PR, Filofax and Ms. Helena Bloomer, MD of Slam PR.

Below is a letter by David Popely in response to a rather eye-opening interview with the managing Director of the PR firm used by Filofax. 

I was going to add a link to it but to be honest, I don’t really feel like giving any PR to the PR firm.  Yup, I’m that disgusted.

If you read my blog, then I’m sure you frequent many other blogs published by the Philofaxy community, and you have no doubt read this letter several times this morning. I am posting it  to my blog solely out of solidarity for a group of people I respect, value and hold in high esteem.

This, sadly, is more credit that Filofax or Slam PR is willing to give them. We, who spend a significant amount of our income on the product. We, the devotees who are not fickle or who bow and bend with the winds of fashion. We, who believe it or not, actually do a hell of a lot more than “write notes”  or ponder which outfit we should wear tomorrow in our planners.

Yes, I am posting this letter out of a little thing known as loyalty. But make no mistake…not loyalty to any company or brand, loyalty to people I care about. People. Not dollar signs. 

Personally, I am through with Filofax. The results of this letter make no difference to me because I will not spend another dime on a brand who so callously dismisses the feedback of it’s core customer base, not to mention whose representatives make disrespectful, immature and frankly disgusting personal attacks upon others via a public forum.

Filofax has become like a bad boyfriend. I make excuses for the lack of useful or updated diary inserts each year when they are neglected in the new line. Again.

I gloss over issues of poor quality assurance like faulty ring mechanisms or “leather” I’m not convinced is actually such, yet still bears a price tag akin to a car payment.

Maybe it’s just me, but I have a thing about being disrespected. I’ll be patient, I’ll give the benefit of the doubt, but once enough becomes enough and I reach my limit, I’ll be gone so fast and so far you won’t even know I was ever there. That goes for bad boyfriends, vapid PR firms and companies who think they can sit back and rest on past laurels.

In closing, I would just like to submit that we are a community. Period. Perhaps we were all brought together by our love (or in my case, a former love) for a product, but many of us have moved beyond ‘planner talk’ to form genuine friendships. We know each others kid’s names. We jump to support one another when someone is having a bad day. We rejoice together when someone is having an unbelievably fabulous day. We send each other care packages for crying out loud.

I’m a dog person, and I can think of no better way to put it than this: We are pack. You people are my pack. And you will be no matter what kind of planner is sitting open on my desk.

But enough of my babbling, here is the letter. Go get ’em David…………

Dear Ms Bloomer

This letter is a response to the interview recently conducted with you by FeaturesExec Media Bulletin, and is being posted simultaneously (more or less) on a number of blogging sites in the UK, the US and beyond.

What binds us together as bloggers is that we are all members of an international community and website devoted to all things Filofax, and are all passionate about personal organisation, and the Filofax brand in particular. We have read, as a community, and with increasing disbelief, your comments concerning the Filofax brand, and this is our response.

We note from your comments that, as a result of a ‘usage and attitudes study’ you have conducted, you have been led to the conclusion that the distinguishing features of Filofax users are that we ‘like to write notes’, and that we are ‘very interested in fashion/stylish accessories’. We can assure you this is not the case in either respect, and that we find being pigeon-holed in this way to be demeaning and insulting in a way you most probably cannot understand. We are a community whose passions are for good organisation and a flexible, functional system to underpin that organisation. Some of us, perhaps a minority, have considerations of fashion, but all of us care that our systems of personal organisation assist us in the lives we live and the tasks we undertake.

In short, if all we wanted to do was to ‘write notes’, it is highly unlikely we would invest in relatively expensive binders, refills and systems such as your client provides. We wonder just who you have asked to participate in your ‘usage and attitudes study’. Whoever they are, we can assure you they are unrepresentative of your client’s core customer base, many of whom have been loyal customers for over twenty years and now feel ignored by your client.

We want to suggest to you that the direction you are taking your client in is ultimately going to prove fundamentally damaging to their business. The fashion ‘business’ is notoriously fickle and fast-changing, and you seem to have convinced your client that ignoring and alienating their loyal core customer base will bring dividends in terms of a new, fashion-conscious, high-spending corpus. We want to suggest to you, and by extension to Filofax themselves, that when the fashion ‘carousel moves on, your client will be left neither their newly promised client base, nor the client base you have led them to abandon.  Do you really think this is smart business advice?

You say in your interview that you consider your brief with Filofax to ‘make (your client) fashionable again’. We would suggest to you that your client’s products, if they were ever ‘fashionable’ at all, were so because they fulfilled a function and a need which was perceived to be important to their customers. We now have growing evidence of a lowering of standards of manufacture in Filofax binders, of poor paper quality in refills, and of a lack of willingness to listen to your customers’ opinions. Several of our members, on voicing opinions similar to these, have been invited by Filofax (or whoever runs their Twitter feed) to communicate those opinions directly to your client. This has been done, and no further comment or reaction from your client has been forthcoming. We would like to know whether this is really the kind of public relations you wish for your clients? Or are you merely concerned with putting fashionable, well-heeled ‘bottoms on seats’ at London, New York and other Fashion Weeks with the aid of free give-aways of ranges of binders priced beyond the reach of the average core Filofax user and similarly poorly manufactured? We would suggest that your ‘fashion focused press office’ would be better employed communicating with the loyal, core customer base of your client, the majority of whom, it now seems, are on the point of abandoning your client’s brand in favour of providers who will listen.

We write as concerned individuals and not as representatives of the community to which we belong. However, it is worth noting that many of us have a very high annual spend on Filofax and related products, and we suggest that Filofax is in danger of sacrificing this loyal customer spend in exchange for something far less reliable in the long term.

In conclusion, we have every confidence that these opinions will be ignored as ‘unfashionable’ by your ‘attitude studies’ and ‘fashion focused’ executives. However, we care enough about the Filofax brand to communicate these opinions plainly to you, and to hope that Filofax will one day return to the business in which it flourished for over seventy years, of providing highly functional, attractive but reasonably priced, personal organisation systems to those who need them, which is an increasing number of people in the societies in which we live.

Ooh Baby, Baby…

There is an ad on TV right now for McDonald’s where a young, attractive, thin couple are eating items from the Dollar Menu – why they insist on using young, thin, healthy looking people in an advertisement for clearly fattening, unhealthy food is a rant for another day – but anyway,  the girl has a bunch of humiliating pet names for the guy.

Have you seen it, “Chipmunk”?

Today I was in line at the DMV and I heard a woman refer to her husband as “Baby”.

As in, “Hey Baby, can I have the lighter for a sec?” after which she took said lighter and went outside for a smoke.

Apparently 15 minutes in a line was too much for her to bear without sucking on a cancer stick.

Again…a rant for another day.

I wanted to ask the guy, in her absence of course, how he felt about being referred to as Baby, but I try not to make a habit of chatting up strange men, lest my journalistic curiosity be misconstrued.

That and I’m pretty sure I knew the answer.  What guy would like it? How un-masculine is it to be called Baby?!

As a woman, even I hate being referred to as Baby, Babe or the like.  A baby is “an extremely young child; infant, or one who is infantile in behavior” according to Webster’s.

“Don’t be such a baby” is not a complimentary thing to hear no matter one’s gender, am I right?

I know what you’re going to say…a baby is also something one nurtures or takes special interest in, e.g. “This architectural project is my baby”.

The construction worker who cat calls at a woman passing by  and addresses her as Baby may very well be expressing his wish that he was “her daddy”….but not in a nurturing, or attentive way if you catch my drift.

This is the part where you call me nit-picky, or over sensitive, or a bitch.

Whatever…sticks and stones.

No, I don’t go feminist Nazi when I am called Baby – I don’t even say a word – but I do dislike it and consider it more of a statement on how that person views me than I consider it endearment. Thankfully nobody calls me that these days.

I think what people call you, when they aren’t using your given name, can be very telling.

Let’s look at some generic pet names for women frequently used in my region of the US  & let’s examine their meanings:

1. Honey (Honey-bun, Honey-bunny, Hun,  etc) = sweet

2. Angel (Angel-face, Angel-eyes, etc) = heavenly, beautiful, kind

3. Dumpling = how can this mean anything other than fat & doughy??

4. Cutie (Cutie pie, Cutiekins, Cutie-patootie, etc) = pretty, dainty, charming

5. Boo = I confess I don’t get this one, even a little…

6. Pookie = Garfield’s teddy bear. If your man calls you this without any prompting from you, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, but he’s gay

7. Princess = noble, ladylike, held in high esteem. Can also hint that he’s got you on a pedestal, which is never a good thing

8. Puddin’ = probably sweet, but somehow smacks of chubby to me…

9. Pussy Cat (or Kitten) = a sex object, (or it may mean you’re dating Tom Jones, but it probably just means your boyfriend is all about your vag)

10. Mama = don’t even get me started. This term should only be used in reference to one’s mother, NOT someone a man has sex with

11. Snuggle Bunny = yes I have heard a man call a woman that in public, but I’m pretty sure his testicles had long since been removed

12. Sugar (Sugar-pie-honey-bunch)= again with the sweet reference

13. Tootsie (Toots) = I’m not sure…resembles Dustin Hoffman in drag maybe? Just kidding…for some reason it means a young woman. If a man over 40 calls you this, fret not

14. Baby (Babe, Babes, Baby-cakes) = I think we’ve beaten that horse sufficiently

15. Doll (Dolly, Dollface, Babydoll) = pretty, attractive, petite. The dark side is that it could also swing towards a toy or object but again, if he’s over 40 he’s just being retro & he likes you

16. Buttercup = why do you build me up…just kidding. Pretty, dainty, but it also happens to be a poisonous flower. Just sayin’

17. Dear (my Dear, Dearie, Dearest) =greatly valued, cherished

18. Sunshine = bright, warm, cheerful

19. Pumpkin (Pun’kin) =I don’t get how this one can be a term of affection either, since pumpkins are ROUND and used on a scary holiday…

20. Sweetie = alright…they’re sweet…we get it

21. Love ( Lover, Lovey-dovey, Lovee) = self-explanatory. Or you remind him of Mrs. Howell

22. Pooh = hopefully a reference to a ‘very special bear’ and not to, like, excrement or anything

23. Girlie = thank you Captain Obvious

24. Darling (Darlin’) = beloved, favorite, similar to Dear

25. Pet = this one means your boyfriend is so lame he can’t even come up with a pet name for you, so he just shortens “pet name” to one word and goes with that.  Run my friend.  Run fast, run far.

Of course, buzz-kill that I am, being called any or all of the above can simply mean this:

“girl whose name I can’t remember”

Sadly, the one that gets used the most around here is Baby.

I get it…I really do. They mean it as something endearing regardless of the fact that it implies you are infantile and poop your pants.  It is yet another symptom of the fact that people don’t think about what they say.

Or why, for that matter.

My special someone, Henry, calls me “Gorilla My Dreams”. Because I have inordinately hairy arms for a woman.  Over the years, this has been shortened to “Magilla“. Because, at the end of the day, there is no denying I am indeed a ‘trouble-prone ape’.

What pet names do you and your significant use?