$1,800 for a rod with poor timing?

I can’t say Schenectady’s Daily Gazette is my automatic choice for flyfishing information, although it does trigger memories of a Bazooka Joe bubblegum cartoon from my childhood (“Operator, I’d like you to put me through to someone in Schenectady. Spell it? Lady, if I could spell it, I’d write…”).

The Gazette‘s Morgan Lyle, however, has an interesting summary of the toll being taken so far by the recession on the tackle industry. One which throws into stark relief the RL Winston Rod Co press release waiting for me in my email this morning.

It’s quite a leap to go from reading how Orvis is having to lay off “friends and family” to try and absorb Winston’s invitation to party on with an 80th anniversary (they couldn’t wait for the centenary?) Limited Edition Conservation Rod.

“These new 9’ 5-weight Boron IIx rods will be individually numbered and will feature a hand-painted Rainbow Trout on each rod by a Winston artist. In addition, each rod will also come with a James Prosek signed and numbered 11”x14” Rainbow Trout Limited Edition print (print numbers to correspond to the rod number). The new 80th anniversary Limited Edition Conservation series rainbow trout rods and Prosek prints are limited to 100.
The price for this Limited Edition set (Winston Boron IIx 5-weight hand-painted rainbow trout rod and James Prosek print) has a suggested retail price of $1,800”

Now there’s nothing illegal or immoral about this, of course. Winston have a business to run and employees that I’m sure they’re desperate to keep employed. Nor is everyone threatened by the recession just yet: plenty of people are so rich, indeed, they are immune to every global crisis short of Armageddon.

I just wonder if the timing of this song and dance will go down as one of the company’s greatest PR triumphs. There’s a circle-the-wagons mentality prevalent throughout the developed world right now and I suspect those advertisers who maintain some semblance of customer loyalty will be those who show that they realise this.

Everything about them, including their advertising, needs to acknowledge that they’re in this mess with the rest of us and will tighten their belts accordingly if it keeps us coming through the door and business ticking over until good times return.

Winston, on the other hand, appear to have the Great Gatsby writing their advertising copy. Give us $1,800 and we’ll give you a print and a fishing rod. Then you can go back to bathing in asses’ milk while Turkish eunuchs fan you with ostrich feathers…

As I say, there’s nothing inherently wicked in this business-as-usual approach but its timing is insensitive, bordering on gross. I just hope the company has enough loaded and equally aloof customers to keep it warm.

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