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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Jonathan Swift and Warm Fashion Accessories

From the New York Sun:
For New Yorkers without the time, space, or willingness to commit to owning a dog, a new share program launching in Manhattan next month offers pets for rent.

Singles who don't own pets but want excuses to chat up dog lovers at city parks, for example, can break the ice with Jackpot, a midnight-black Labrador retriever billed as a "happy dog who loves everyone," who can be a best friend for a month, a week, or an hour. While researchers tout the positive impact of spending time with pets, the rent-a-dog program, FlexPetz, is seen as a "shocking" development by veterinarians, dog trainers, and longtime pet owners. Veterinarians say renting out dogs could inflict permanent damage to their psyches, as multiple owners could muddle their understanding of loyalty.

I can appreciate those concerns and trust the proprietors of FlexPetz will be sensitive to them, e.g. not hiring out a prize Manhattan purebred to a B&T from Broad Channel; the damage to the poor critter's self-esteem (the dog's, that is) could be catastrophic. With the risks carefully addressed, however, I think FlexPetz is a marvelous idea and one that could give rise to a wonderful and even bigger marketing opportunity: the leasing of children.

It may come as a surprise to those who don't live in Manhattan but these past few years children have been the latest fashion accessory among the hip and clever. They are, however, an accessory requiring heavy lifting and not all possess the considerable strength required. Consider the plight of the typical well-to-do couple living in Tribeca, say (by "couple" I refer to the quasi-archaic straight man and woman joined in Holy Matrimony but being Manhattan it can include any other pairings): both parties draw six-figured incomes and are socially active. They long to to spread their considerable largess spoiling progeny and showing them off at gallery openings but alas, the crushing demands of their busy lives, not just of their jobs but of daily gym workouts, pilates classes and sessions with the shrink permit nary a second to devote to such unpleasant and unrewarding tasks as feeding, bathing, dressing, diaper-changing etc. of little ones. Also, as is well known among Manhattan moms (if they happen to be women) childbirth can have devastating consequences to taut and expensive physiques. It may be the case the child-deprived couple may not earn quite enough to hire a surrogate birther and no matter how the kid is manufactured, there's no way in hell Mom and Dad are going to let a Spanish-accented nanny of questionable legality anywhere near the Manolo Blahniks and signed Andy Warhol lithographs.

With child leasing all those concerns are eliminated. For a reasonable down payment and monthly maintenance fee, a leasing agency will make available a broad line of attractive children of all races and colors (right now, Asians and Africans are the new black) for short-term leasing, as little as one hour. The service would include a 24-hour help desk, reachable by cell and Blackberry, for assistance dealing with the myriad problems that can arise with young children including the most dreaded of them all, meltdown. Should that assistance prove unavailing the agency will provide guaranteed 30-minute or less child replacement (within the Metropolitan area). The agency will conduct rigid screening procedures and while it may not be possible to guarantee problem-free infant hirelings, those that are found to be unsatisfactory will be quickly removed from the leasing pool.

The procurement of child-product would be accomplished by partnerships with leading environmental organizations and Planned Parenthood, consisting of generous payments to them as "child-offsets" and contracting with them to locate mothers with unwanted children to whom they would pay a portion of the payments in return for transfer of title to the children to the leasing companies.

There will be, of course, numerous other details to work out in this marketing concept but none that anyone with an MBA from an accredited institution couldn't work out. Quite frankly, I don't see a downside to it.

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