Have a listen to Weekend America’s piece: Forget Ads, What’s Your Brand?, which chronicles the unconventionally successful marketing approach of Hollister Co., the $1.4B annual sales boost for parent Abercrombie and Fitch.

Almost every Saturday, 15-year-old Emily Erickson is at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. Most of its 500 stores don’t interest her, except Hollister, a clothing store for teens. Hollister is odd. It’s dark, with music so loud you can’t hear yourself shop. The air is filled with a deep citrus scent that stays on your clothes for hours. But Emily loves it and keeps coming back. Hollister’s “brand” invites her to become part of a particular tribe, and to show her allegiance by wearing its clothes. It’s part of the way that branding has taken over from traditional advertising. We hear from brand designer Joe Duffy about the concept of “brand” for clothes, kids and even countries.

…So Emily and Hollister have found each other. It’s not just about cute clothes. It’s about being part of group, your tribe, the people who care about the things that you care about, who think about the things you think about. Duffy says this has been part of a massive change in marketing. It’s becoming easier and easier to ignore and even avoid ads, so they have to speak to you in other ways.

A kinder, gentler brainwash? I can’t help thinking of Kramer’s beach scented cologne.

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