America's permanent pastime - The Lowbrow Lowdown
Imagine if you could get in for free each time your favourite band came to town. True fans of indie rockers, Rocket from the Crypt (RFTC) can do just that, on one condition: that they get a permanent tattoo of the band's rocket logo inked into their flesh. That's dedication, writes Kate Kaye.
Now, that notion has made its way over to the East Coast. Yes, in exchange for an official tattoo anywhere on their bodies, fans of Florida's Daytona Cubs baseball team will receive lifetime season passes to the team's games. As featured in a December 5 broadcast of NPR's All Things Considered, any ol' Cubs tattoo won't do. It must be the four-colour image of Cubby, the sunglasses-sporting polar bear mascot.
"Our scope on this is you're doing free advertising," concludes the Cubs' general manager, Buck Rogers. "You're out there; you're a walking billboard for us."
So, is free entry to a bunch of baseball games worth the permanent alteration of one's body? And what of the walking billboard factor? That's pretty distressing, too.
There's a greater question looming here -- is there a difference between donning a hockey jersey or getting a band-related tattoo and promoting a corporation by wearing a Coca-Cola T-shirt or Nike swoosh cap? To me, the difference lies in the nature of what's being promoted. Sports team logos, rock band images and cartoon characters reflect particular cultures and attitudes that lend themselves to the fan embrace. Although every corporate brand manager on the planet would like to think that his logo and product can evoke the same spirited feelings, I'd like to think it probably can't.
Still, if I could convince Maker's Mark to award me with a lifetime supply of bourbon in exchange for a Maker's Mark mark, I might change my mind.
Throwin' the Stone a bone
Call it a blessing in disguise, but lots of annual work Christmas parties won't be taking place this year due to budget crunches. Take Wenner Media's Rolling Stone magazine. A December 4 Wall Street Journal feature ("Recession takes a bite out of advertising, transforming a reeling magazine business", by Matthew Rose) focuses on the pop music mag's mad rush to fill ad space in its upcoming "People of the Year" double-issue.
Publisher Rob Gregory has been running around like a little red rooster with its head lopped off to woo advertisers to buy pages in the issue. It's no wonder that the sycophancy got seasonal when Gregory considered allowing a company to sponsor Wenner Media's Christmas shindig. Then it hit him. "Is it tacky to do that at the holiday party, to commercialise it?" Gregory pondered.
Ya know, he's got a point. What could be more inappropriate than to cheapen and commercialise an overly hyped industry party teeming with lip-synching, teenage floozies, primped starlets announcing who designed their gaudy get-ups, and angst-ridden rock'n'rollers with personal accountants?
What do housewives and Warhol have in common?
When I was growing up, there were a few things I could always count on being in Mom's kitchen -- ice cream, pasta and at least one kind of Campbell's soup. Why Campbell's? Well, for one thing, Campbell's soup can labels were like a form of currency when I was a kid. Every once in a while, I was sent to school with a stack of 'em to give them to the teacher. "What the heck does she do, wallpaper her house with these?" I wondered. It turns out it was all part of a socially responsible marketing campaign -- the more labels moms hoarded, the more money or educational equipment Campbell's would give to their kids' schools. Imagine that, Campbell's creating incentives for folks to buy more soup.
School promos like this still go on, but some argue that they're just not worth it. As featured in a December 6 report on The Register, "consumer rag" Which? claims that "school-targeted shopping promotion schemes don't provide particularly good value to participating schools."
The story refers to campaigns like the one launched by Tesco. The company gives vouchers in exchange for grocery sales. Once a certain amount of vouchers are collected, they can be swapped for computer equipment.
Evidently, Which? isn't too keen on the idea, arguing that in order for school-kids to obtain a free PC, printer and digital camera, it would require parents to spend a total of £208,800 on groceries.
Are they really being duped? I don't think so. That money also bought £208,800 worth of groceries, didn't it? Sure, in the scheme of things, the awards may seem chintzy, but they're only there as an extra incentive to shop. If the main reasons to buy groceries at a specific store (location, service, quality, hunger) no longer existed, even a more impressive giveaway wouldn't attract people to shop for food when all they really want is a computer. Then again, people willingly exchange cash for worthless lottery tickets everyday in failed attempts to get more of the money they just gave away, so go figure.
That's not all. For additional commentary on these and other stories, visit The Lowbrow Lowdown.
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