Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Probably Not the Message Intended

In Commercial Transactions, we are talking about the Statute of Frauds. One exception to the requirements of the statute of frauds involves specially manufactured goods that are so specific to the buyer that the seller would be unable in the ordinary course of business to sell them to another seller. I immediately thought about a catalog that the Marketing Director at my last job before law school brought into my office for a laugh one afternoon. As the marketing director, she was constantly getting samples and catalogs of schwag that could be customized with our company logo to be handed out at conferences or trade shows. I often discussed selection of these items with Cee, trying to pick out things that were more interesting than another stupid ballpoint pen, but still low-cost.

This particular catalog looked just like every other catalog at first glance. Then I realized why Cee was snickering and waiting for a reaction from me. It wasn’t that secret pornographic images had been inserted into the pages of the catalog or that they’d started selling personalized condoms or something. No, it was because a great many of the photographs showed items that were emblazoned with the Enron logo. My guess is that the catalog had been produced just before the scandal broke and the company felt that it would be too expensive or take too much time to remove the images and replace them with less notorious company logos. But I have to tell you, in a way, it seemed like the message being sent was “Buy our products and you will be just as successful as Enron!” Which, may, in fact, have been the intended subtext for the initial choice of the Enron items as examples, but took on a whole different connotation by the time the entry actually came out.



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