Friday, February 29, 2008

Old Issues, New Coke

I once knew a rabbi who would start all her sermons like this: "So, I was driving in my car when..." To that effect, I was biking to work the other day, wondering why asexuals couldn't just eschew dating alltogether. (I know, dating again...) Then, this popped into my mind:

"You can change a product, but tamper with a beloved brand, and the public will kill you."
--Lesson from Ily's publicity class

[Above: Oh no they di-n't. Possibly the biggest marketing failure in history.

Yes, my professor would be proud. It occurred to me at this moment that dating is actually a brand, much like the Coca-Cola Classic that was almost killed by the fabled New Coke. As a people, we haven't always dated, much like we haven't always craved Starbucks Frappachinos (guilty) or sworn by Firefox (again, guilty). But somewhere in between arranged marriages and first-wave feminism, dating became one of our society's most idealized behaviors. Just like we long to cruise in a Mercedes or step out in Manolo Blahnik shoes, we love the idea of a romantic dinner at which sparks fly between near-strangers. Successful brands are ones that we have deep emotional connections to, and dating is no different. And like any good brand, dating makes a crapload of money. Thousands of businesses-- maybe even yours-- depend on dating for their livelihood.

However, dating's branding isn't impeccable. Rather than being geared at a target market, it's being foisted on all of us. This is not only annoying, but sloppy business. So everyone, their mom, and their dog is telling you to date-- so what? What if everyone told you to eat Big Macs, but you're vegan or saw
Supersize Me? Wouldn't you just laugh it off? Well, dating is very similar.

You might not be able to change the brand. But, you can always change the product.

It's possible to radically change dating, while at the same time letting people believe that their idealized notions are a possibility. This might all seem monumental, but doesn't it make you feel better to know that dating isn't the lost 11th's just a brand? That it's just like Coke? Does that make it a little less intimidating? I hope so.


Nicole said...

Um. so what really sparked this post? I thought that you were actually interested/active in dating.

Nicole said...

I strongly believe in dating, courting, and going steady. Yes these are all old fashioned terms but I have a lot of friends who simply hook up and the have drama I let them know that these are actual options. You know. Get to know someone in romantic terms... or even just test the waters with a friend who may become more. So to me dating as very little to do with sex and more to do with the desire for companionship of a unique brand (hey look I used your theme).

Basically I think that dating is still alive it is just that a lot of people have somehow forgotten about it.

Ily said...

Then go forth and date, young woman! Live the dream! Drink Sprite!

The Impossible K said...

Awesome analogy!
So if I read this correctly, would purely platonic pairings be like changing the product? I like what Nicole said about dating having "very little to do with sex and more to do with the desire for companionship"...
it's less intimidating and something still desirable :)

Ily said...

Yay! It certainly could be!

Ily said...

Also, did I ever say dating had anything to do with sex? :-) I know, I know, people tend to think I have sex on the brain...