Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Open Letter to Filofax, SlamPR and Helena Bloomer


Aloha Kakou!

     My name is Leilani—Lilo for short—and I am a third generation Filofax user. You can count my foster cat Kedikofte as a fourth generation Filofax user, because when he’s placed into a permanent and loving home, he’ll come with a fat grape Domino Filofax that comes loaded with information about his diet and food preference (he hates fish, go figure), medical records, dental records, personality traits and odd behaviours (hissing in anger when you play Rihanna’s music).

            Contrary to the results of your survey, I do not primarily use a Filofax because I like to write notes. If that were the case, then all flat surfaces within my reach would be decorated with my cheesetastic musings. You see, I’m on a James Franco-y intellectual masochism quest: finish my 2-year graduate program within a year. Add in volunteer work, literacy advocacy, Native rights and language revitalization activism and independent honour crimes research and then SPLAT! That’s the sound of Google Calendar collapsing without the help of my trusty 4-year planner/Month on 1 Page with Notes/Week on 2 Pages/ 2 Pages Per Day powerhouse combo sandwiched inside a personal-sized red Topaz. Unlike my SmartPhone, whose usefulness can be as erratic as Amanda Bynes’s driving, I only need to flip through my Filofax (ooops…sorry…I meant to say Filofax organizer) to access whatever information I need.

            On a personal note, I primarily use a Filofax instead of another brand of organizer because it’s what my late da used. At the risk of sounding even more of a sentimental meatball, I carry my da in my Filofax just as he carried me in his. An emotional attachment is the strongest, most lasting kind of attachment to a brand. Filofax is, to use Saatchi and Saatchi’s term, my love mark.

            Today’s economy is as unreliable as the completion of the Big Dig in Boston, so it is understandable that you’d want to pursue other strategies to strengthen the company. However, SlamPR’s decision to “re-invent” the brand is misguided at best and offensive at most. By pursuing the fashion world like Katie Price/Jordan pursues oompa loompa orange skin, you are abandoning your core client base. It’s pretty much the same as a Midlife crisis afflicted-husband (Filofax) abandoning his wife of 20 years (Philofaxers)—the one who raised his kids (Filofaxes…ooops….ORGANIZERS) and had to make do with a meager income (crappy inserts)—for the younger, ditzy woman (yep, that would be, like, oh my gawd, fashion bloggers).

            Look, the divorce papers haven’t been signed yet; there’s a chance for reconciliation. I respectfully urge you to please contact us—anyone of us—and engage in a genuine dialogue. Listen to us; we’ll listen to you.

Mahalo Nui Loa

Below is another Open Letter penned by David Popely.

Dear Ms Bloomer

This letter is a response to the interview recently conducted with you by FeaturesExec Media Bulletin, and is being posted simultaneously (more or less) on a number of blogging sites in the UK, the US and beyond.

What binds us together as bloggers is that we are all members of an international community and website devoted to all things Filofax, and are all passionate about personal organisation, and the Filofax brand in particular. We have read, as a community, and with increasing disbelief, your comments concerning the Filofax brand, and this is our response.

We note from your comments that, as a result of a ‘usage and attitudes study’ you have conducted, you have been led to the conclusion that the distinguishing features of Filofax users are that we ‘like to write notes’, and that we are ‘very interested in fashion/stylish accessories’. We can assure you this is not the case in either respect, and that we find being pigeon-holed in this way to be demeaning and insulting in a way you most probably cannot understand. We are a community whose passions are for good organisation and a flexible, functional system to underpin that organisation. Some of us, perhaps a minority, have considerations of fashion, but all of us care that our systems of personal organisation assist us in the lives we live and the tasks we undertake.

In short, if all we wanted to do was to ‘write notes’, it is highly unlikely we would invest in relatively expensive binders, refills and systems such as your client provides. We wonder just who you have asked to participate in your ‘usage and attitudes study’. Whoever they are, we can assure you they are unrepresentative of your client’s core customer base, many of whom have been loyal customers for over twenty years and now feel ignored by your client.

We want to suggest to you that the direction you are taking your client in is ultimately going to prove fundamentally damaging to their business. The fashion ‘business’ is notoriously fickle and fast-changing, and you seem to have convinced your client that ignoring and alienating their loyal core customer base will bring dividends in terms of a new, fashion-conscious, high-spending corpus. We want to suggest to you, and by extension to Filofax themselves, that when the fashion ‘carousel moves on, your client will be left neither their newly promised client base, nor the client base you have led them to abandon.  Do you really think this is smart business advice?
You say in your interview that you consider your brief with Filofax to ‘make (your client) fashionable again’. We would suggest to you that your client’s products, if they were ever ‘fashionable’ at all, were so because they fulfilled a function and a need which was perceived to be important to their customers. We now have growing evidence of a lowering of standards of manufacture in Filofax binders, of poor paper quality in refills, and of a lack of willingness to listen to your customers’ opinions. Several of our members, on voicing opinions similar to these, have been invited by Filofax (or whoever runs their Twitter feed) to communicate those opinions directly to your client. This has been done, and no further comment or reaction from your client has been forthcoming. We would like to know whether this is really the kind of public relations you wish for your clients? Or are you merely concerned with putting fashionable, well-heeled ‘bottoms on seats’ at London, New York and other Fashion Weeks with the aid of free give-aways of ranges of binders priced beyond the reach of the average core Filofax user and similarly poorly manufactured? We would suggest that your ‘fashion focused press office’ would be better employed communicating with the loyal, core customer base of your client, the majority of whom, it now seems, are on the point of abandoning your client’s brand in favour of providers who will listen.

We write as concerned individuals and not as representatives of the community to which we belong. However, it is worth noting that many of us have a very high annual spend on Filofax and related products, and we suggest that Filofax is in danger of sacrificing this loyal customer spend in exchange for something far less reliable in the long term.
In conclusion, we have every confidence that these opinions will be ignored as ‘unfashionable’ by your ‘attitude studies’ and ‘fashion focused’ executives. However, we care enough about the Filofax brand to communicate these opinions plainly to you, and to hope that Filofax will one day return to the business in which it flourished for over seventy years, of providing highly functional, attractive but reasonably priced, personal organisation systems to those who need them, which is an increasing number of people in the societies in which we live.



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We must never permit the voice of humanity
within us to be silenced. It is Man's sympathy with all creatures that first makes him a Man.

--Albert Schweitzer

Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

--Viktor E. Frankl