Since no one reads this, I think it is safe to mention that I work for a company that shares. Zipcar. The sharing thing, as we here in marketing know, and love to remind people, is taking the nation by storm. Glazing over the idea that we all learned to share in pre-school, and that it is effectively ingrained in our brains, Sharing (capitalized) is a sustaining trend. Earth-loving, tree-saving, baby-whale-adopting, hip, savvy urbanites Share. It’s the new black.
Now this is not to say that we share everything. We here at Zipcar (or at least I, and my views clearly do not blanket everyone here at Zipcar) understand that sharing your space is personal. Therefore making the commitment to share a car is hard. What about the dirty people? The smelly people? The people who eat and flatulate on the very seat we share? Those people exist. But would you rather sit on their seat or rub them on the subway. I dont know; you choose.
The issue is that Sharing is everywhere. Netflicks is Sharing. People have been sharing recipes and cleaning tips for years, but never has it been so brilliantly capitalistic. Of course I’ll give you my pot roast recipe. For $15.50 and hour. Then you have to give it back.
In my office, we spend a lot of time “marketing” the idea of Sharing. We get really excited when we see Sharing in the world. Not nice people giving to help others, but our kind of Sharing. The kind that involves money, propaganda and corporate interaction. Occasionally we will see a shining example of Sharing and send out a mass company email letting everyone else know what we found. People who find good examples of Sharing are always highly regarded.
An email with the subject line: First Came Zipcars, Then Came Flexpetz arrived in my inbox in the early afternoon. My aversion to any English title or tag line that employs the letter Z to replace an otherwise educated s or plural ending kept me from immediately reading the email. Actually, it was not until the humming of gossip reached my desk that I finally opened the email.
People sharing pets by the hour.
Flexpetz is a new company that is finally coming to Boston. All of those animal lovers who can’t bear to walk around the park without a dog on a leash finally have an answer. Flexpetz can be “shared” (lowercase) by the hour, day, or weekend! Just log on, choose your pet and then pick it up. How perfect?!
Except one thing: animals are living beings. Some of them even get depressed and have attachment disorders. The entire thing is bizarre. Where are these pet-lovers-who-cant-have-dogs taking these canines? Are there really people who have been dying for years to throw a ball in the Charles and watch someone else’s dog fetch it? Ask the guy with the tennis ball catapult if you can throw a few for him. Don’t rent a pet.
But maybe my aversion is the door that this being-sharing opens. Capitalism extends itself to everything. Grandmas with crochet hooks aren’t blind to the opportunities of online sales and marketing. But what are the possibilities?
Well, according to the FlexPetz business model, Flexkidz, obviously. For the hard working professional who has always wanted a kid but didn’t want the hassle of child birth and rearing, tuition and feeding– Flexkidz! Worried that your husbands abusive tendencies may come to light around children? Don’t risk it. Flexkidz.
Using the adopt a homeless being business model, it’s perfect. No one cares about orphans, anyway, right? How perfect! Rent them out!
But then, there are the unmentionable possibilities. . .
Maybe I am old fashioned, but I believe in Sharing things that can be wiped clean with a Clorox wipe and withstand a day with me without emotional scarring. What does it say about loyalty and commitment to rent movies, cars, and pets? Probably that you’re single.
FlexPetz is not a shining example of Sharing.