On several occasions over the last few months, I have been informed by self-appointed children's advocates that my kid's stroller is not, in fact, a Kevlar-reinforced tank. This advice might have something to do with the way I navigate our buggy through the streets of New York, which pairs a child's impatience with a convicted sidewalk-rage perp's speedlust. Hey, it's not my fault that some people - hello, kindly retirees out on restorative midday strolls - aren't able to abide by the societal code of right-side-slow, left-side-fast.
I'd be more inclined to heed the warnings if they came from Bugaboo owners. As they pass me by, chrome fenders glinting in the sun and the purr of the Bugaboo's V8 engine drowning out the chirps of happy little birdies, they exchange a sympathetic nod. They get it. They know that they occupy a higher place in the baby-transit pecking order.
Bugaboo does, too, as witnessed by the wealth of video posted to its web site. Targeted at individuals unversed in strategic stroller deployment, the clips do everything in their power to portray Bugaboo ferries as more essential to healthy child development than binkies and vaccines combined.
I give Bugaboo a ton of credit for trying. Thanks to the pairing of an excellent product with artful PR, the company has already branded itself as the shelf-above-the-top-shelf manufacturer of strollers (excuse me - "family transport apparatuses"). Of every provider of fully functional geolocal systems for mini-person conveyance, Bugaboo least needs to invest in videos further asserting the superiority of its contraptions.
That's probably why the campaign comes across as superfluous. Everybody who owns or aspires to own a Bugaboo is well versed in its features: the supreme foldability, the off-road-tested mag wheels, the rack-and-pinion steering, etc. All that's left for Bugaboo to do in the videos, then, is depict the products doing exactly what we know they can do - namely, transporting a child and a recyclable sack of Whole Foods produce without harming either piece of precious cargo. It's as if a tuba manufacturer threw up six videos featuring six individuals playing six tubas. What possible response could we have, beyond "yes'm, that's some fine tuba"?
Bugaboo has done such a fine job branding its wares over the years that there's no way to impress would-be owners - which isn't to say that, with all the video, the company doesn't try. The most recent addition to its Bugaboos-are-lifestyle-accessories media blitz is "Bugaboo Baby Bites," a series of two-to-three-minute clips in which chef Ludo Lefebvre whips up family- friendly concoctions as a Bugaboo or Bugaboo accessory idles in the background. The clips reek of creative/promotional desperation, especially when Lefebvre spends two minutes slicing fruit into kid-size pieces and stashing it in a Bugaboo-stamped container. On the other hand, this is helpful to those of us inclined to hand our three-month-old child an unpeeled orange and say, "That's dinner. Put the rinds into the compactor when you're done."
Even sillier are the clips that show Bugaboo baby-yachts in action. Take the one featuring a London-based family, which features ma, pa and adorable scamp going about their daily business with Bugaboo in tow. We see them folding the Bugaboo, putting it into a car and taking it out, traversing unevenly paved streets, hoisting it a vertigo-inducing six inches to hop a curb and maneuver it into a moto-rolly-tram (or whatever the English are calling buses nowadays), etc. Worse, about a minute in it downshifts into emotional-manipulation territory, noting that the aforementioned scamp had been born without a fibula. It's a premier example of overreaching, a fine product being represented as lifestyle panacea.
For me, it comes down to this: the Bugaboo videos fail to answer the question, "What can this product do that similar ones cannot?" We're thinking of taking the Bugaboo plunge - we've already been preapproved by a local lender - but don't want to make the investment without knowing that it's a smart one. I was hoping these videos would give my wife and I the motivation we needed to pull the trigger, but "video of product doing what it is supposed to do" is less useful as purchase fodder than as a defense exhibit in a product-liability lawsuit. Our kid might be the poorer for it, but we'll take our chances.