Times Tough? Reward Your Stalwart Family -- with Upholstery!

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"It's funny how new furniture has a way of restoring people. Add something special to your home and experience it firsthand."

Awww. Tent cities have hardly folded up and we're already being hawked side tables. The piece at left comes from "Is it Home Yet?", a campaign/sweepstakes meant to bring gunshy spenders back into furniture showrooms.

The World Market Center Last Vegas, a showroom and exhibition space for the furniture industry, is pushing the effort, with help from collaborators like the National Home Furnishings Association and the Western Home Furnishing Association. In addition to a nationwide multimedia push, it will receive still more attention from widespread celebration of "National Home Furnishings Month" -- September, a traditional (but cozy!) period of change.

Note the ornaments of an industry calibrated for battle: a couch that, according to its materials tag, meets or exceeds "comfort and happiness standards"; and a slogan that appears on a rustic welcome mat. You can also expect to be heavily exposed to soft-touch shots of smiling unbroken families, cushy stuffed couches and other timeless accoutrements of the resilient nuclear unit.

The North American arm of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide is the agency behind the propaganda bonanza, whose budget is estimated to be around $20 million. The New York Times has stats on how discretionary purchases, including home furnishings, have fallen dramatically over the course of the year.

"For the last 10 or 15 years, you looked at your home as a financial investment, but the return on this investment is actually emotional," said Robert Maricich, whose philosophy is not at all impacted by his position as President/CEO at the World Market Center.

"It's an investment in your family, or perhaps developing a sanctuary, a place to celebrate life events. The idea of 'Let's enjoy today; let's enjoy home' isn't such a bad one in these incredible times."

Suppose not, but you'll excuse us if for the moment it rings callous. In the meantime, kerosene, anyone?

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