Sunday, September 14, 2008

I Am What I Buy

Tie into the previous post about the Adbuster's article on the hipster-generation; there is now this:

I'm speaking of New York Times columnist Robert Walker's new book, Buying In.

About 5-6 years ago, while I was working at The Fader Magazine and parent company, Cornerstone Promotions, I was asked by my boss to meet/greet/be interviewed by Mr. Walker.  All I knew was that he was writing a book about 'cool' and marketing.

So he flew down, and we met over dinner, (I suggested some fancy spot on South Beach cuz the NYTimes got that bawllrr status), and we exchanged stories about how deep this "Merchants of Cool" thing really goes [click previous link for a good FRONTLINE episode on it all].  I told him how I approached 'projects', and he would tell me sociological results of similar campaigns.

It was weird but interesting.  For example, next time you are at a bar that sells bottled beers. Take a second and look around at the people holding the bottles.  How are they holding them? According to Walker, and i've noticed as well since he told me, around 80% of the individuals will subconsciously be framing their hand so that the label is visible to others.  To them/us, it just 'feels' like the right way to hold the bottle.

Anyways, here's a synopsis of the book:

"Brands are dead. Advertising no longer works.  Weaned on TiVo, the Internet, and other emerging technologies, the short-attention-span generation has become immune to marketing. Consumers are “in control.” Or so we’re told.
In Buying In, New York Times Magazine “Consumed” columnist Rob Walker argues that this accepted wisdom misses a much more important and lasting cultural shift. As technology has created avenues for advertising anywhere and everywhere, people are embracing brands more than ever before–creating brands of their own and participating in marketing campaigns for their favorite brands in unprecedented ways. Increasingly, motivated consumers are pitching in to spread the gospel virally, whether by creating Internet video ads for Converse All Stars or becoming word-of-mouth “agents” touting products to friends and family on behalf of huge corporations. In the process, they–we–have begun to funnel cultural, political, and community activities through connections with brands.

Walker explores this changing cultural landscape–including a practice he calls “murketing,” blending the terms murky and marketing–by introducing us to the creative marketers, entrepreneurs, artists, and community organizers who have found a way to thrive within it. Using profiles of brands old and new, including Timberland, American Apparel, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Red Bull, iPod, and Livestrong, Walker demonstrates the ways in which buyers adopt products, not just as consumer choices, but as conscious expressions of their identities.

Part marketing primer, part work of cultural anthropology, Buying In reveals why now, more than ever, we are what we buy–and vice versa."

Anyways, if you still read books, and are into sociology/anthropology/me -- I'm definitely up in this book somewhere.


Mr.Devlin said...

have fun at PUMA....


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