We all have a favorite pair of jeans. They're faded from wear, and fit perfectly every time. When we wear these jeans, they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t say: "I never shrink in the wash." What they do say is: "IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m from the GAP."
It is no new idea that our bodies are walking billboards for advertisers. Strolling through campus, every purse, coat or pair of sunglasses is affixed with some characteristic emblem or name brand. More than anything, these symbols Ã¢â‚¬Å“tellÃ¢â‚¬Â our peers something about us. Designer boots say something very different than $5 snow boots from the local consignment shopÃ¢â‚¬â€both are fine, but the message is very different. By choosing to wear either, I am saying something specific to my peers about myself. Yeah, I know people say that they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t care what others think, but if you deliberately dress against a certain trend or wear a Ã¢â‚¬Å“Screw BushÃ¢â‚¬Â t-shirt, you're saying something to people and expecting a reaction.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s really interesting to think about how our clothing has become a central means of persona-creation. Without opening our mouths we communicate our socio-economic status, favorite shopping spots, and our priorities. We have realized that our clothes speak for us now.
This is why the (Product)RED campaign could be so effective. This ad campaign hosts products whose companies donate a portion of their profits to the Global Fund for eliminating AIDS. But buying something (RED) is more than just buying something for a great cause. Say I buy the new $300 (RED) phone with matching Bluetooth headset. A total of $23 goes to the Global Fund. I could make a $300 silent contribution to the fund instead and the donation would offer a dose of the warm fuzzies, but the phone tells everybody that I care about Africa. We are marketing ourselves and building personal images for others based on the products we buy.
The specific products we buy from campaigns like (Product)RED also say something about us. It used to be that a 10 cent piece of ribbon would let everyone know our social concernsÃ¢â‚¬â€now it is an Emporio Armani polo shirt. This could also be an effort by marketers to reinvigorate campaigns likes this. Every cause has its own ribbon now - itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s overdone. By changing their strategy, marketers for (RED) target an audience of consumers with a disposable incomeÃ¢â‚¬â€people my age and younger who are desperate to establish individuality. We donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t remember the advent of the red ribbon campaign, but are super excited to sport our new (RED) iPod.
I do not mean to degrade campaigns like this because I think we do advertise ourselves with clothing in general.
Brands have become more important than the physical product because names are associated with price tags. The bigger the supposed price tag, the better the wearer looks. I had a friend tell me once that the $400 designer purse sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d purchased was pretty hideousÃ¢â‚¬â€but she bought it anyway. We will buy knockoffs which replicate famous patterns so that people think we can afford the originals. As a reaction, we have become adept at recognizing the slight differences between real and faux designer productsÃ¢â‚¬â€I have a friend who Ã¢â‚¬Å“specializesÃ¢â‚¬Â in spotting Faux-ie Vuittons, for example. Each of us constructs a persona through our purchases. Marketers should be rejoicing because it seems this makes their job easier. We still look to commercials and magazine ads to see what the Spring clothing lines will look like. But we also just look to one another because impressing our peers means knowing what theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re wearing. We canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t market ourselves without knowing our competition, right?