Geez, Who Wrote That Schmaltzy Stuff?

True story.

From 2002-2010, I worked at the agency that handles Sandals, a chain of all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean. I was paid well, but it was the kind of job where you wake up with your stomach churning and Friday means you have two days to dread Monday. I finally quit.

Fast forward to this week. A client emailed me a YouTube link with the comment:

I have to share this video w/someone. I’m just speechless how horribly cheesy this is. It reminds me of a bad romance novel.


Ummmm, hate to admit it… I wrote the legend of Giselle and Ricardo in 2007 to relaunch Sandals Grande Antigua following a $775 million expansion.

Cheesy or not, I had to work my ass off.  I was told, “write a romantic legend that includes a bell, because a bell is rung to call guests at the new restaurant, ‘Ricardo and Giselle’s.'” (I don’t remember the stones). Beyond that, the story is mine. Although, it was originally written for a 32-page print brochure and was a lot less cheesy in print.

Why it is great cheese

Sandals is in your face and obvious. It gets downright tacky. I have almost nothing from eight years of work that I can include in my portfolio, because prospective clients would assume I chose the creative direction. No, the owner of Sandals has a very clear idea of what he wants. And he wants cheesy… because he is dealing with guests who are in a very cheesy frame of mind. They are (for the most part) young lower middle-class honeymooners from the U.S. and Britain. They want an over-the-top experience, not subtlety.

As a professional writer, I am not hired to write in my voice. I write according to the client’s brand. My stomach churned for eight years of employment because, among other reasons, I was going against my own beliefs. I tried to make the best of it and inject class into the language and storytelling. But it was rough. And the fact remains: over the last eight years, using the same cheesy marketing, Sandals has continued to grow and open resorts.

Why it is bad cheese

I don’t have the print brochure, or I would include a download of it here. But an Emily Bronte-like character needs the softening edges of history. In video, she is more beautiful but also more scary crazy. Her kinda modern clothes don’t help. I’m watching the video thinking, “This woman needs professional help.” The length of the video made it even more painful. More important, the stones and bell were kept without really explaining them. In print, there was room to explain the why of it. In video, the bells and stones are superfluous and distracting.

To date, the video has 9,000 YouTube views.  Stinky results, which may have something to do with cheese after all.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]