Worst pitch of the month: Secret Sweater and solving women's problems

This month's roundup also includes a few positive spins that deserved to be lauded rather than lampooned.


Some of the worst pitches I receive often share the common error, or at least misunderstanding, of how to target female audiences, for whatever reason.

I've written about a few -- namely an odd taxi app for defending "helpless" females .

Other pitches commonly misunderstand the audience at the other end of the email -- meaning a clear lack of knowledge about the journalist and publication to which he or she is pitching.

Just look at the Kickstarter project, "Barley & Britches: The Everyday Chino," which came with some tangent about how these pants improve first dates.

Here's one that combines the two: the Secret Sweater.

Let's take a closer look:

Hi Rachel!

How are things over at ZDNet News? This is one secret you will love(and might want to keep to yourself)! I know you've been in the office working on deadlines and gotten a little chilly at some point right? I know I have..but I don't always want to cover up my outfit with a chunky sweater, jean jacket, etc! Well Secret Sweater is the PERFECT solution to this. It fits perfectly under a blazer or jacket, but stays hidden so no one knows you're wearing it but you! Crazy good idea right?! This transitions really well from work to happy hour...or even to a yoga class! I have included a bit more below about the concept, but you truly have to try it to believe it!

Ps- they were a huge hit at former Bachelorette star and expectant mom Deanna Pappas' recent baby shower!:)

I would apologize for the poor formating and odd punctuation here and there, but those distractions are not my fault. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to experience my irritation first-hand.

As if that weren't enough, here's a bit more of the product description in the email, which just rambled on for too long, and I'm not going to inflict that upon anyone else.

While staying stylish and comfortable between running meetings, hitting the yoga mat, and catching an evening date night may seem like unattainable goals, with the Secret Sweater women who are on-the-go finally have that elusive wardrobe piece that will solve all their problems. The Secret Sweater is the first of its kind to meet the multi-faceted demands of the active woman head on, being at once the perfect layer for under a work blazer while still looking just as chic and at home when pulled on over a little black dress.

Trapped by chilly boardrooms, overhead air conditioning vents, and reptilian coworkers who won't hear of a thermostat set over 62? Instead of giving in to goose bumps get smart and pull out that trusty Secret Sweater whenever necessary. The Secret Sweater claims its name from its clever design, which features 3/4 length sleeves, a body length that hits at the waist for the optimum range of movement, and a deeply cut away front so it can be easily hidden under blazers and jackets.

A sweater that will solve ALL of my problems? Sounds magical to me. How have I made it this far in life without such a sartorial savior?

Honestly -- and I'm afraid to even ask this rhetorical question -- how dumb do they think women must be to buy this -- the pitch or the sweater? The premise is so insulting to anyone's intelligence that I don't even think this would make it to a late-night infomercial.

I already have a similar yet not-so-secret sweater from Banana Republic on the back of my chair right now. Problem solved.

Moving on, I also wanted to mix things up for once by including a few pitches that deserved to be lauded rather than lampooned.

First up is this one from, well, I'm not sure as a company is never specified once in the email.

The most that can be gleaned based on the subject line, "Get your picture taken by Ed Snowden at RSA today!," is that the pitch is promoting an impersonator of the most famous former government contractor amid the 2014 RSA Conference in San Francisco this week.

Perhaps I would have learned more if I went to the booth.

Still, I couldn't decide if it was the worst or rather the BEST pitch ever. I'm leaning toward the latter. I'll let you decide for yourself:

If you’re going to RSA, come by booth 2332 and get your picture taken by Ed Snowden, and yes, that’s his name, we’ll show you his driver’s license to prove it!  Pick one of the following secrets to leak, get your picture taken and we’ll social media it….you can win a Google Chrome but much cooler is you can tell your buddies you met a real-life Edward Snowden…and we’re only about 3 aisles away from the NSA booth which is funny as heck!  Call me at 408 607 7118 if you want more info as I’ll be at the show all day…

Here’s the secrets you can choose from:

  • My budget is so big, I expect to win all the door prizes.
  • I have no budget authority.
  • Gary McGraw is my hero.
  • I don't know what I am doing.
  • I thought CISSP were random letters.
  • I use the default passwords.
  • I fell for the Nigerian scam.
  • I use "to" instead of "bcc" for mass emails.
  • I wonder if the logging software knows what I do all day?
  • I use the same password for all my logins.
  • You can put any letter in front I "aas" and I'll buy it.
  • I'm a member of Anonymous
  • My middle name is Danger !

Thanks, and have a great show!

I guess now I'll never know.

Finally, there was this timely email sent by Trend Micro just ahead of the final weekend of the Mardi Gras season.

One might assume that connecting an annual celebration/public debauchery to enterprise content security software might be a stretch, but maybe it's just perceptive.

Regardless, I'm including this one just because at the very heart of it, this is chock full of good advice -- some that should be heeded everyday of the year. Enjoy.

Don’t let a trip to Mardi Gras leave you with a social media hangover

Mardi Gras parties have come to mean celebrations of costumes, masks, beads, floats and, you guessed it, drunken debauchery. It’s easy for this holiday to yield embarrassing pictures, and if your social media privacy settings are not carefully managed, you could end up with a social media hangover.

Christopher Budd, Trend Micro’s global threat communication manager, offers these tips to ensure you still have a good time celebrating without having to worry about what may end up being public on the Internet:

Review photos you’re tagged in before they appear on your profile


Choose carefully who can see photos you upload of your friends


Only accept friend requests from people you know to avoid being associated with inappropriate content


Turn off geo-location settings to avoid being spotted where you shouldn’t be


Ask permission before posting photos of your friends


“Before photos and videos get the best of your conscience, take a few minutes to update your privacy settings,” said Budd. “Log into each social media account, review the appropriate privacy settings and keep these settings updated regularly. Adequately managing your profile will ensure your boss, grandparents or significant other doesn’t see something you’ll later regret.”

If you think you have privacy, think again:


Solutions such as Trend Micro’s Titanium Maximum Security help users to properly manage social media privacy settings and alert users when they have privacy vulnerabilities.

Images via Secret Sweater, Trend Micro