"To advertise the auction," write Gordon Fairclough and Veronika Gulyas in the Wall Street Journal, "the government created a logo showing the hammer of the communists' old hammer-and-sickle emblem striking Lenin's head and causing him to see red stars. Below it is inscribed the motto, "Never Again."
That may be so, but with the country in economic turmoil due to the global economic crisis, they also report that there is apparently some muttering about "the good old days" when assembly lines were humming and a loaf of bread could be had for pennies on the forint.
Last year, around the time of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, The Week compiled a roundup of some of the many stories in the press that reported on the purported nostalgia for the Easter Bloc communist regimes. And an acquaintance who is by trade a journalist/filmmaker has opened a boutique hotel in Berlin that has a heavily ironic and somewhat decadent cold war ambiance.
But let's let Christopher Hitchen's comment in Slate that it all amounts to "sentimental piffle" be our final word on the subject as we turn to much more palatable forms of sharing the wealth that are taking hold on these shores and may, or may not, be indicative of a new consumer zeitgeist.
Stephanie Schomer has a fascinating interview in Fast Company, print and online, with James Rinehart, who has created an online swap site for children's clothing and toys called ThredUP (yes thred, not thread). The idea is that you choose a box of someone else's "gently worn" retreads online, pay $5 plus shipping, then prepare a box of about 15 items yourself and wait for someone to come knocking on your email account.
The service is eight months old and has 30,000 members. Reinhart claims that 92% of the transactions are rated three or four stars on a four-star scale. "It's a cultural shift," he tells Schomer. "People are pulling out of that hyper-consumerism of the early 2000s. It's just really expensive to own stuff."
An even more radical incarnation of this sensibility is the grassroots Freecycle Network, which claims to have grown to 4,864 groups with 7,603,875 members around the world since its inception in 2003. People list goods they no longer want online and give them away to willing takers.
The combination of what may be a chronically sluggish economy and increasing awareness that "recycle and reuse" needs to be more than a grade-school slogan may very well result in more enterprises like these popping up. Wise marketers and retailers have, of course, devised ways to go with the flow. New printer cartridges come with postage-paid envelopes to return used cartridges, for example, and Best Buy accepts old electronic gear.
Wise marketers and retailers have, of course, devised ways to go with the flow. New printer cartridges come with postage-paid envelopes to return used cartridges, for example, and Best Buy accepts old electronic gear. KPMG and the Economist Intelligence Unit surveyed 378 senior executives worldwide, according to WARC, and found that 62% of companies now had an official protocol for sustainability.
But I wonder -- what other innovative ways are marketers missing to spread goodwill among customers while doing good for the environment?