I spent hours yesterday wandering around town in the pouring rain, looking for components of a Halloween costume; so when I got home, I decided to treat myself to a long soak (with one of Karen’s fabulous matcha-eucalyptus Fizz bombs) and a read in the tub.
I picked up Buying In: the secret dialogue between what we buy and who we are, by Rob Walker, and it got me thinking about – or rather, thinking more about – branding and marketing. It’s already been on my mind a lot recently as I’ve been redesigning this website and thinking about how to promote myself as an artist, but Walker’s introduction caused me to ponder my relationship with branding from the consumer angle.
As I believe I’ve mentioned before, my household is currently enjoying a free trial period of digital cable (and yes, I am watching What Not To Wear again right now). For years, prior to the free trial, I’d consumed nearly all my motion picture entertainment without (explicit) ads, in the form of DVDs, downloads, or streaming video; it was a jolt, being suddenly immersed again in the noisy, flashing world of “a word from our sponsors”.
I read this, from the introduction to Buying In:
Pliable citizens of the old ‘passive couch potato’ nation had taken in advertising like an order: After repeated exposure to a particular thirty-second TV commercial, the consumer of the past would compliantly ‘go out and buy…’
…and I realized that I did this recently. I went out and bought a particular brand of whitening toothpaste that I might never have noticed on the shelf if I hadn’t been bombarded with its incredibly annoying ad on a daily basis.
This “old” type of marketing is not the subject of Walker’s book, and as I continue reading and contemplating, I plan to revisit the broader subject of branding and the new “murketing” in this space; but I wanted to start with this morsel: When was the last time you found yourself (or perhaps allowed yourself to be) blatantly manipulated by a classic 30-second spot?