We recently ran across an article in new york times by Virginia Heffernan that nicely sums up what we have believed for quite some time now. Below is an excerpt:
Barry Diller is wrecking parties. I may never be invited anywhere ever again, but I must speak out against Evite, his company, for stamping a hideous brand on hospitality.
Evites party invitations have been invading the worlds e-mail in-boxes since 1998. In spite of their vapid design, and the way the R.S.V.P. feature fuels status anxiety, about 192 million Evites go out each year. IAC/InterActiveCorp, Dillers media conglomerate, acquired Evite for a song in 2001. Since then, the company has steamrolled the competition with its juggernaut averageness and threats to sue for copyright infringement. Last year, Time magazine included Evite among the five worst sites on the Web, and the techworld gossip site Valleywag ranked Evite its most-hated company.
Still, none of that deters Eviters, for whom the sites free party-planning software is the handiest way to organize a gathering without being overheard by bosses or excluded co-workers. Another 16 million Evites went out last month. From the looks of the sites featured cards, most of those parties were ragers for the Hooters crowd, with ads Ę‚,¨‚ÄĚ I mean “invitation designs” Ę‚,¨‚ÄĚ that emphasize consumption over conviviality. Forget guests of honor or rites of passage: Evite parties celebrate kegs (“Beer Pressure“), cocktails (“Senoritas and Margaritas“) and food (“A Cheeseburger Birthday“). Evite seems also to have concocted formal occasions that make Secretaries Day seem like a High Holy Day. How else to explain “Awards Night,” “Book Time” and “Eco Party“? They are advertising opportunities, it would seem, especially in light of the overt branding of the “Wii Party” and “Let the Madness Begin” March Madness gathering. These events may have been magical, but they could have started on a less craven note.
In the early years I confused Evites with other online commercial gestures that mimic intimacy Ę‚,¨‚ÄĚ e-cards and solicitations to browse (and buy) someones family photos. But now I spot them with less than a glance, and they produce a faint but unignorable tension in me as long as they go unanswered: I want to be grateful for an invitation, but I feel harassed. Unlike the sweet, promising envelopes that sometimes arrive with the real mail, tulips in the weeds of fliers for gym memberships, Evites mix the forced cheer of advertising with the stern bullying of debt-collecting. Its a party! First notice. Second notice. Wheres your R.S.V.P.?! Wed love to see you! Late fee. Ę‚,¨¶Read full story in the magazine