Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lovemarks: Chomp Chomp!

We must all have a profound capacity for nonsexual, nonromantic love. I'm assuming this is true because if we didn't, corporations wouldn't be wasting time and money trying to exploit it. But let me back up for a minute. I recently finished the new book Life, Inc: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take it Back by Douglas Rushkoff. I'm always on the lookout for strange new ideas about love (Japanese men + jailbait pillows, check!), and the following passage speaks to this. In it, Rushkoff describes a project brought to you by Kevin Roberts, the former CEO of big deal advertisers Saatchi & Saatchi:

"There are many kinds of love and love takes many shapes and forms," [Roberts] explains. His crowning achievement at Saatchi...was a selling system he calls Lovemarks. A Lovemark, as Roberts defines it, is "a brand that has created loyalty beyond reason. A brand you recognize immediately because it has some iconic place in your heart." He doesn't mean this in the self-conscious, ironic sense of being cheekily enamored of a certain candy bar or soap. He means really in love. "Tide is not a laundry soap. It's an enabler. It's moved from the heart of the laundry to the heart of the family."

In developing Lovemark campaigns for his clients, Roberts and those of his ilk invest their brands with the emotionality and meaning they understand to be missing from daily life. "So we have to create for these great Lovemarks wonderful stories that connect past, present, and future, that involve you, that you can participate in, that make you smile, or they make you cry, but what they do is they make you feel." The inference, of course, is that nothing or no one else has that capability anymore. (121)

And someone could pay me an exorbitant fee to tell them that the name "Lovemarks" is kind of gross. It sounds like a euphemism for a passionate makeout session with a vampire. But even more gross, verging on frightening, is this explanation from the Lovemarks website:

Lovemarks reach your heart as well as your mind, creating an intimate, emotional connection that you just can’t live without. Ever.

Take a brand away and people will find a replacement. Take a Lovemark away and people will protest its absence. Lovemarks are a relationship, not a mere transaction. You don’t just buy Lovemarks, you embrace them passionately. That’s why you never want to let go.

It's funny how Lovemarks takes "there are many kinds of love", something I have always been strongly behind, and totally corrupts it until you absolutely can't live without Tide. I knew that people looked for love in all the wrong places, but I never thought that it could be with a laundry detergent. There are some brands I passionately hate, and we've all heard that hate is closer to love than indifference. I guess I'm just ClearChannel's jilted lover.


nekobawt said...

on the one hand, pssssht, whatever.

on the other hand? the GINORMOUS SCANDAL that erupted over "new coke" Back In The Day.

so i can see that there's a little tiny something to what these lovemark people are trying to do, but i have a lot of trouble imagining it becoming something big.

SlightlyMetaphysical said...

Wow, that's a little sickening.

Quite predictable, look at all the facebook groups petitioning for childhood sweets/crists to be brought back, the emotional aspect is the only really unbreakable bond to a product. If a sociologist had said all this as an observation, I'd barely have blinked. It's just that an actual marketer is promising to force people to have an emotional need for your product that grosses me out.

Sorry for the horribly tangled grammar, feeling tired.

Ily said...

It's funny you mention New Coke, Neko, since I sorta wrote about it here, as a metaphor for dating:

I remember being SO UPSET when the cafe around the corner from my house went out of business-- I would have definitely joined a Facebook group of people who wanted it back. It was SO COOL, an indie place, and was replaced by a chain restaurant. So I guess it was a brand and I loved it, but part of what I loved about it was the fact that it was local and non-corporate. I guess a lot of people feel that way about some neighborhood business, but a lot of people live in places where there ARE no local businesses.

Anonymous said...

Heh, you just can't live without it. EVER. Zombies..

gatto said...

You may be interested in Rushkoff's Frontline programs, "The Persuaders" and "The Merchants of Cool". They are informative and sad. You can watch them online.

Ily said...

I definitely want to check those out, thanks!