Charlene Weisler and I are putting the finishing touches on a series of interviews we conducted in the programmatic TV space. We queried representatives from four verticals: ascending programmatic TV advertising agencies (US International Media, Varick Media Management); pioneering platforms (TubeMogul, Videa); data-ists (Datalogix, Rentrak); and inquisitive content providers (TV channel Reelz, TV station group Nexstar). I mention these interviews, which often focused on the evolving meaningful, usable, data-infused research, as a segue to a recent incident that occurred in Chicago while visiting a client.
I generally arrive in Chicago hours prior to my client meet in order to comfortably shop North Michigan Ave, which is comparable to New York’s Fifth Ave. I visit two locations for wife-gifting: Oilily, a bohemian clothing boutique whose designs synthesize art and fashion, and La Perla, the luxurious European intimates boutique. An un-crowded hop, skip and a jump across North Michigan from one to the other.
I must admit I’m never quite comfortable visiting La Perla. Although the sales staff —usually two young adult, attractive women whom I’ve become familiar with over the last few years — tries to ease my transition into examining women’s lingerie publicly, there is still something about examining women’s lingerie in public that scrutiny shouldn’t bare. In preparation, I tried to fortify myself with all the intimate details of my wife’s lingerie collection — size, style, palette and configuration — prior to debarking from New York. Inevitably, as on prior occasions, the saleswomen posit questions, the answers to which I cannot articulate in terms of pure statistics. This visit was no exception.
As I surreptitious perused the merchandise, I happened upon an unusual 2-piece set: an erotic Japanese print in exotic smoky gray and burnt orange. I pointed to the stealth garment. The senior saleswoman applauded my selection and shared with me that every season La Perla creates a limited edition of erotic matching sets. Then she queried: “What’s your wife’s size?” Proudly, I informed her that the label on my wife’s La Perla nightgown reads “1,” and reminded her from past purchase discussions that my wife is elegantly slight. She held up the thong in a “cat’s cradle” repose, and explained that normally a “small” would suffice, but these are cut extra-small, so she would recommend one size up. Perfect, I thought.
“What about the bra?” she queried.
“What about it,” I responded. “Certainly, I want one,” I said in a low voice.
“What is your wife’s size?”
I reminded her that I’d already informed her that the labels on my wife’s La Perla nightgowns state “1.” Wasn’t that sufficient measurement information to make an educated decision about her size? Apparently not. Different metrics, I was informed.
A long moment of silence.
Nurturingly, she repeated: “You’re sure you don’t know your wife’s bra size?”
“No,” I answered despondently. “It never came up in conversation before.”
Pointing to her own chest, she asked if my wife was built similarly to her.
I hesitated a moment, put on my glasses and stared at her chest. “No, smaller than you” I answered.
“What about the other saleswomen. Is she built similar to her?”
Before I shifted my gaze to the other woman’s chest, I asked, “Doesn’t that depend on the construction of the bra” and its raison d’être, I thought. Then again I wondered if the next phase of the inquisitional process would be for me to grope her and her cohort, or possibly sashay around the store feeling up the scantily clothed mannequins for approximations. I wondered when we were going to resort to more primitive metrics like handfuls and mouthfuls.
The senior saleswoman sensed she was losing a prime sale and attempted to shift the line of questioning to more tangible dimensions. “What about cup size?” she gingerly queried.
“She has two,” I said, annoyed.
A long moment of silence.
Then her ice-breaker: “Based upon your description of your wife, it sounds to me like your wife is an A cup.”
I clung to the A cup concept. “Yes, an A cup sounds right.”
Sensing my relief, she and I were left with only one possible impediment to closure for the sale: inventory. She excused herself, walked into the back room and returned with an erotic Japanese printed bra in smoky gray and burnt orange. Exuberant was I until I noticed an aura of concern emanating from her. A hesitancy to complete the transaction.
“What’s the matter?” I implored.
“You said you thought your wife was an A cup.”
“Absolutely,” I wagged.
“Would you happen to know her chest size?” she asked.
“Yes, an A Cup. We agreed she was an A cup,” I blurted.
“That’s her cup size. Could her chest size be a 32,” she asked, indicating the circumference of her own chest.
“I think she has a 34-inch chest,” I confidently proffered.
“Well we only have one bra left, and that is a 32B,” she imploringly offered.
Groping for translatable metrics I asked the most accommodating senior saleswoman if a 32B was comparable to a 34A, given the meshing of the chest and cup size.
“Yes,” she triumphantly grinned.
As I departed the store, minute package in hand, I ruminated about the interviews Charlene and I have conducted in the programmatic TV space, whose foundation is built upon data infusion of indexes, mixed metaphors, fusion panels, weighted and non-weighted, compatible and incompatible data, hoping that we could bring some clarity that would protect media executives from experiences like the one I just shared.