Whenever I buy a new car, before I drive it off the lot, I ask the people at the dealership to please remove the license plate frames that are always installed that have the name of the dealership imprinted on them. I figure that I have just spent a lot of money on this car, and unless they want to pay me for it, I am not inclined to drive around providing free advertising for them. Ordinarily, car people seem confused when I make my request, but they always comply.
I can recall that years ago, dealers’ names were installed as metal attachments to the rear of cars. These small plates were low-key and regarded as permanent installations. Most cars had them but they were rarely noticed. Today, there is usually a choice. But, this is an article about clothing – What, you may wonder, is the possible connection?
Marketing tries to drive us toward valuing certain brands and company logos so as to actually value their conspicuous and non-removable presence from articles of clothing. Many of them have achieved a certain ‘style’ symbolism that causes otherwise thoughtful and intelligent people to actually spend their money – sometimes a lot of it- for the privilege of walking around touting the names of Tommy Hilfiger, Dockers, Chanel, Hermes, Versace, Givenchy or Louis Vuitton to name just a handful that come quickly to mind. There are hundreds of others.
These logos appear on women’s, men’s and children’s clothing as well as on many different products. Some are more exclusive and more expensive than others (Old Navy has its own logo on many of its clothes that are quite inexpensive,) but each conspicuously branded article of clothing is setting us up to do the very same thing. Walk around advertising for them. For nothing.
When I was a child, I can recall people being paid to walk up and down main streets in downtown Boston with folding ad boards on their bodies. The clothing manufacturers are getting it both ways if they succeed in conning people into 1) buying their product, and then 2) wearing it with it’s conspicuous identity to as many places as possible. We have become their ad board carriers. It is a good example, from one point of view, of successful marketing strategies. The same phenomenon, from another perspective, is simply a con or ‘grift’ that worked.
Consumers are somehow brainwashed into believing that carrying this form of advertising makes them look better – that it actually ads some value to the person wearing it. Oy. This is supposed to be the payback for doing this free advertising for them.
I encourage everyone who buys such items to give it another- just one more- thought.