But I don’t understand real businesses and have great admiration for those who do. This does not preclude me from noting various factors at play in efforts to separate me from my money. I’m impressed with the ingenuity applied to that goal.
Of course, there are always those who will resort to any means, no matter how slimy. For example, there is the million dollars awaiting me after I return a relatively small amount of money to assure my rights to it. More legitimate methods include “going out of business” sales, expensive TV pitches, the ease of shopping from home, and the allure of free shipping. The list goes on and on.
There is one scheme that is particularly vexing to me. It’s not illegal or even close. And I fall prey to it as I suspect everyone reading has. Whoever thought of it must be sitting back in an easy chair and laughing at the gullibility of the public.
It goes something like this. The entrepreneur selects merchandise or a service people want. Then comes the marketing. This could be via advertising on all the different media now available. Often effective although costly. Too costly for some and here’s where the genius comes in.
Let the purchaser do the advertising! Nothing better than word of mouth, of course, probably the best and most heartfelt endorsement any company could receive. But that’s not what I’m talking about here.
Instead, the customer displays an ad and it won’t cost a penny to the seller!
Think of all the shirts IZOD has placed on people with the company name emblazoned tastefully or blatantly. What gets me is folks pay extra for clothing with that name on it. They’ve been conned into thinking it’s a status symbol.
Running shoes and apparel are sprinkled with “Nike,” “Adidas,” “Saucony,” “Brooks,” and others.
Purchased cloth shopping bags display “Publix,” “Winn-Dixie,” and “Fresh Market.”
Automobiles have the dealer’s name on little metal attachments fastened through holes in the car.
Workers from painters to lawn treaters plant signs in grass that tend to take advantage of inertia and remain far longer than one might expect. I’m sure some have grown roots.
But why is this so bad? After all, race car drivers have their clothing and automobiles littered with sponsor names. What’s so different?
There’s a big difference. Each of those sponsored names is the result of a hefty donation to the racing team. The companies are paying for the display, not the other way around.
So why shouldn’t we receive payment for our exhibits? Why shouldn’t we get 50 cents a day for driving around with an auto dealer named on our car? Seems to me a dime is appropriate for every day a piece of clothing is worn. Just think, on a run even a so-so athlete might wear two shoes, shorts, shirt, and cap. That’s a half buck right there—every day one runs. Publix should cut a quarter off my bill whenever I bring one of its bags to my shopping. Any worker leaving a sign on a home lawn should pay a dollar for each day the sign remains.
Alas, I know I’m not going to change the way of the world. And I’m far from consistent in my dealings. For example, I buy running clothes and it’s true that the ones of better quality often have names on them. I do remove license plate holders but not the metal strips with the dealer name. I’m proud to say lawn signs don’t last long. And I do employ the cloth bags figuring the environmental benefits outweigh the granting of free publicity.
And in one case I happily pay to advertise. There is a wonderful running store owned by a caring and giving couple who sell shirts (fairly priced by the way) with the store’s name on them. I have bought several and wear them proudly because I appreciate what these fine folk do for the running and broader communities. But theirs are the only merchandise I purchase where I’m pleased to lend a hand in advertising.