In search of love? Wearing a T-shirt with a secret code is the answer to finding a partner, according to a Geneva businesswoman.This content was published on August 11, 2002 - 11:10
The new dating system is called "Loveconnection", and it is aimed at taking the embarrassment out of making that all-important first move.
"This is not meant to be taken too seriously. The aim is to bring people together, but it's meant to be fun - a kind of a game," says Virginie Gerber, the brains behind the dating scheme.
To take part, you have to be over 18. You buy a T-shirt - costing SFr39 - emblazoned with the word "wanted" and a code number unique to the wearer. You pass on your name, address, mobile phone number and a secret pass word to the club, which keeps them confidential.
If, as you are going about your life, you spot someone wearing a similar T-shirt, and that person takes your fancy, you do not have to pluck up the courage to ask them for a date there and then.
"It's not always easy - they may have someone with them, you may be shy, you may not know if they're busy or not," Gerber says.
SMS pick-up line
Instead, she says, you can contact the club's switchboard operator - calls cost SFr1 per minute. After identifying yourself with the secret password, you can dictate a message, which will then be sent as an SMS to the object of your affections.
"We never make a direct call by telephone - there might be a husband or wife about," Gerber says. How a person might explain away a Loveconnection T-shirt in their wardrobe to a suspicious spouse, she doesn't say.
Once a person receives your message - "We don't allow obscene or offensive messages," Gerber points out - they can decide whether to respond in kind, via the Loveconnection hotline.
"Once a direct contact is established, we cease to be involved," says Gerber, who has copyrighted her idea in Europe and North America.
The company hopes to make a profit simply through the cost of phone calls and T-shirts. Even before the 24-hour telephone lines have opened, Loveconnection had sold more than 100 T-shirts.
Gerber, graduate of an Italian fashion house, says she got the idea because she has so many 30-something single friends. One of them asked her to make him T-shirt bearing the legend: "handsome guy inside" and his phone number.
A similar system sprang up in Zurich two years ago. At the initiative of the now defunct private television station, TV3, people put heart-shaped stickers on the rear of their cars. Those finding the driver attractive could dial a special number, along with the licence-plate number. The driver could then return the call if they so desired.
This system - introduced as a way of reducing nuisance phone calls and sexual harassment - failed to stand the test of time. Whether the Loveconnection T-shirts fare any better remains to be seen.
by Roy Probert
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