Modern Luxury describes itself as "the preeminent luxury lifestyle publisher in the United States." Its media kit pegs the median net worth of its readership at $815,200. One of its titles, Riviera, serves Orange County, California. And over the weekend, as I perused a copy with Rob Lowe on the cover, I happened upon this advertisement:
A few things are going on here. There's a "zing" factor that grabs you. They're playing on the stereotype of snotty baristas (one I haven't generally found to be true). Since it's in a magazine that also has an advertisement for a $6 million house and features multiple watches that cost 6 figures, playing on this particular stereotype can't help but have an "it's so hard to get good help these days" vibe.
And while all that is very provocative, what I found most fascinating about the ad is the notion it's selling: that machines can save you from having to deal with people.
Is it a portent of things to come?
Typically, we hear that technology is replacing human labor at a rapid pace and are warned that we may all end up in the service industry one day unless the trend abates. This ad combines a dig at a subset of service industry workers with the suggestion that people could avoid them too... if they buy a machine to make their Cappuccino at home. It doesn't say that the machine will perform better than the human. The conceit of the add is that it makes drinks exactly as good as a barista. The ad doesn't say the machine is cheaper either. All of the ostensible value added is the opportunity to bypass human contact.