Do you ever find yourself painfully aware that a brand has had you in its sights, fired, and missed?
I remember, back in the late 1970’s, Lowenbrau beer ran a campaign featuring groups of young adult friends. They were usually gathering at someone’s house for a small party. Laughing, drinking, hanging out. Which was just what my friends and I did. Or wished we did, even if we didn’t. But then came the jingle. “Here’s to good friends, tonight is kind of special. Let it be Lowenbrau.” Right there we said to ourselves, “That’s it, we have no interest in living a beer commercial. No Lowenbrau at our party unless we’re in the mood for irony. No Lownbrau, even if it is just me and my neighbor watching Saturday Night Live.”
Lownenbrau lost us, the overly-educated, partying, friend-having baby boomers, by making us self-conscious about who we were. Many people loved the campaign, but they lost my particular crew.
It’s even harder to market to High WASPs. I pity the brands who try to talk to us. Because the harder they try, the worse it gets.
The most recent example?
I liked the shoes very much, even if not, on the face of it, $540 worth of liking. But I hated the branding. I might not be alone in this. Maybe you agree. Maybe not. From their website.
The brand name n.d.c. – nom de code/code name – reflects our conviction that the strength of our brand is the product itself. There are 4 key factors in every n.d.c. collection – simplicity, quality, originality and constructional know-how. Artisan hand-crafted with leather carefully selected from Europe’s best tanneries, n.d.c. products are “works of art.”
Doesn’t it sound like they are targeting the kind of people John Houseman and Sam Waterman pull in with, “They make money the old-fashioned way. They earn it?” High WASP incarnate. But no.
If the strength of your brand is the product itself – a perfectly fine goal – why on earth do you make up terms like, “constructional know-how?” And worse, really, so bad I can’t bear it, why do you call your shoes “works of art,” in quotation marks? Quotation marks mean, in this context, “I’m not serious.” They mean, “I’m holding my two hands up, waggling fore and middle fingers of each hand, and raising my eyebrows up into my hairline.” They mean, “I don’t think so.”
I know. We’re picky. But if you find us, we will stick around. We’ll tell everyone your brand is “different.” Those are the good quotation marks that imply, not the dross commonly available. And, despite fading family fortunes, we can still locate a little disposable income here and there. But we’re not going to liquidate capital for “works of art”. Please go back to the drawing board. Because I also like your boots.
And your Plims. Which is a good thing to call sneakers if you want to talk to High WASPs. Refers to the British term, “plimsoles.” We like the British. Just indirect enough. In this case, the quotation marks are not ironic in the slightest. $220, in gray leather.
Note: Tish also likes their shoes, by the way. Particularly these sandal/ballerinas.