The big shopping season is beginning, and I’m once again reminded of what a sucker I am for brands.
One would think that a marketer such as myself would be immune to marketing messages; that I would realize what formula lurks behind them and scoff it off. But no. On the contrary, I am dazzled by good work, and I reward it with my hard earned cash.
My first car was a Saturn. At the time, Saturn was running commercials with a girl about my age who sighs as she takes the key “My first car!” and the Saturn staff takes a photo of her next to her new car. I wanted that moment. I still have the photo of me, with my dad, next to the ‘Green Hornet.’ I knew what I was doing. I had read a case study of Saturn’s PR in school. And I told myself it was because of that study, I wanted that car. And it went through nearly 200,000 miles with me – regular oil changes every 10,000 miles. I don’t care why I bought it. It was a great first car.
With smaller items, though, I’m in a strange position. Steve Madden, Crate & Barrel, The Gap, Chanel, Nine West; I never pay full price. I can’t stand to. I go to the outlets. I go to Filene’s Basement. I wait for the sales. But I point out the labels to my girlfriends, then I whisper, “30% off!”
But I don’t steal them.
HUH? What do I mean? Well, a few years ago, I opened a record store with a friend of mine: Fishnet Music, in Ocean City, Maryland. It closed three years later.
It was right after the big Napster scandal, Metallica’s Some Kind of Monster was coming out our first summer, as a matter of fact. People wondered how we could survive with all this music being stolen and free out there.
Wierdly enough, I am not the only person that appreciates the brand. There is a whole country, a whole world out there that remains attached to brands, to having ownership of a certain logo, a certain touch and feel. They may have the music on their computer, on their iPod, burned onto a disk, but there still kids out there — I met them weekly — that would come into the store and say, “Do you have the new Band Name CD yet? It’s supposed to come out today, it’s awesome!” I’d look at them and say, “It’s awesome?” and they’d explain how they downloaded it a week ago, but they still want the liner notes and everything.
That’s not the product — the music is the product. It’s the packaging that they’ve been convinced is the product. And I am not one to deny it. As a vendor of the product, and a fan of musicians — buy on, you crazy diamonds! Grow, little shoppers, grow! Stack those plastic cases to the sky. This is how marketing can save music. Shiny things and pretty pictures.