The New York Times Magazine published an interesting article about branding. "Can a Dead Brand Live Again" looked at efforts to revive so-called ghost brands that are no longer available (except, perhaps, on eBay) like Brim, Nuprin and Underalls.
Companies by the names and sometimes the formulas for the products and try reviving them. Sometimes the new version shares only a few things with the previous iteration...For the newly relaunched Salon Selectives hair products, the products shared the same color pink (but differently shaped) bottles from the original and contained a similar aroma as the original.
This remaking or updating of a ghost brand is actually standard procedure. That's why I called it Franken-Brand. (it has nothing to do with Al Franken.)
The idea is that people will have faulty memories but will recall the brand image established by million-dollar ad campaigns that are decades old and will buy the new products. And it seems to work. That's why I did not describe the product categories for Brim, Nuprin or Underalls -- I think most people reading this will be familiar with them.
The article, written by Rob Walker, is worth reading. Walker writes the Consumed column for the New York Times Magazine, and wrote, “Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are.”
If people are old enough they will remember certain brands and advertising gimmicks - like the Hathaway Man's eyepatch or the lyrics to the Chock Full 'o Nuts coffee jingle. But keep in mind the Steely Dan song, "Hey 19" (Hey 19/That's Aretha Franklin/She don't remember/The queen of soul) - for everyone who remembers a brand, there is probably at least one other who does not.
I think Percy Shelley was making a similar point in his much-anthologized Ozymandias, when he wrote, "Look on my Works ye Mighty, and despair! Nothing remains beside. Round the decay Of that colossal Wreck..." (Ok, so a bit pretentious, but my college creative writing professor might be pleased.)
Brands from the past can be like kings from the ancient past. Who, below a certain age, remembers Gimbels (except if they've watched "Miracle on 33rd St."), Brylcreem (or its slogan, "A Little Dab'll Do Ya!") or Pan Am?
Or, for that matter, there are current brands that will likely disappear in the future, according to "Ubiquitous 20th Century Brands That Will Disappear," an interesting article on 24/7 Wall St.com (available at www.247wallst.com/2008/03/ubiquitous-20th.html.
On the other hand, the Hydrox cookie is being revived for a limited time...because Hydrox fans made a fuss when they realized that Keebler (which had bought Sunshine Biscuits) had stopped producing -- baking seemed like the wrong word -- the venerable cookie.
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