Is it brilliant marketing or just the paint fumes?

It’s amazing how the circumstances of your life affect your product awareness. For instance, you always skip the car commercials until your car breaks down. You sprint through the baby food aisle until you have a bun in the oven (or at least until you get a strange craving for those little Vienna sausages). And you don’t develop an infatuation with Home Depot until you buy a house.

As a proud new homeowner, I’m amazed at how much I’ve come to care about light fixtures. Meanwhile, my laid-back husband has become a raging power tool addict. And our simple set of belongings has expanded to include caulk guns, flat rakes and gardening implements. I have three different trowels, people!

It’s the American dream, I guess. And plenty of companies are ready to provide us with all the comforts of modern life. The U.S. Postal Service is even getting into the act! When I submitted my new mail forwarding address online, I was offered a convenient checklist of targeted catalogue subscriptions. Now I run to the mailbox like one of Pavlov’s dogs, drooling in anticipation of American Blinds!

The place where they really get you is the paint department, though. Painting seems like such a quick, inexpensive fix. Its simplicity lures you with the promise of a cathartic escape from the hectic moving process — just roll on a color like “Blissful” and enjoy the instant gratification! But it never works that way.

I fell right into the hands of Behr’s marketing department when I picked up a faux textures brochure describing a technique called Venetian plaster! As an unabashed Italiophile, the name conjured up images of a sunrise in St. Mark’s Square, twinkling with old world sophistication like Murano glass. I poured over the brochure and reveled in the cultural superiority of my color choice: a vibrant yellow called “Dante.”

Little did I know, Venetian plaster involves building a wall on top of your wall with a thick paste that bears an unsettling resemblance to peanut butter (to read Behr’s summary of the process, click here). The technique requires both the patience and skill of Michelangelo (neither of which I happen to possess). Even with the brochure as my constant guide, my strokes evoked more of a mud hut ambiance than a Doge’s Palace aura. As I spent day after day creating a vibrant yellow mess before succumbing to paint fumes, I even heard a radio commercial extolling the virtues of learning Venetian plaster techniques from the friendly staff at Home Depot. If Dante were to assess the situation in terms of cunning power plays, I’m sure he would enjoy a hearty laugh at Behr’s undisputed superiority in the marketing relationship.

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