If you've been riding the Toronto subway lately, you may have seen an ad campaign by the most popular of craft online retailers: Etsy.com. A new step for the company, which had previously focused their advertising online, the ads are an interesting case study for the public perception of craft.
The subway ad campaign focuses on the tag line: 'Say I Love You With Etsy.com'. The series of 15 ads each feature a piece of craft, and are tied together through phrasing that comments on their differing methods of creation. Beside a picture of a knotted necklace, one ad states, 'I can't knit, but if I could knit, I would knit this for you'. Alongside a messenger bag reads, 'I can't felt, but if I could felt, I would felt this for you'. There's even an ad aimed at the vintage sellers on Etsy, claiming 'I can't travel to the mid-century, but if I could travel to the mid-century, I would have picked this up for you'.
The campaign revolves around a few key premises: that a handmade gift is a gift that means more, that the creation of these objects requires a skill level beyond the ability of the buyer, and that making is meaningful, but difficult, while shopping is easy. Whether you interpret this as a statement on the lackadaisical public attitude towards creativity and craft, or rather as self-deprecating humour, the conclusion remains the same: even if you can't make something special, you can say something special by buying something unique. (Happily, the sellers of the work featured in the ads are credited, so the audience knows not just where to go to shop, they know where to look if they want the exact piece displayed.)
The CCF/FCMA is in no way affiliated with the Etsy.com ads, but we are a proponent of getting craft before the eyes of the public. We see the great benefit of advertising that connects craft to the idea of meaningful gift giving, uniqueness and skill. Do these ads hit the nail on the head? We'll let you decide... but overall, we hope to see much more advertising that promotes those positive values of craft.