Saturday, July 5, 2008

Freedom, Choices & Perfume

Yesterday was the 4th of July, Independence Day in the good ole USA. This got me thinking in a broad sense about freedom, independence and choices.

Specifically I’ve been thinking about consumer choices and how they impact the economy. We all make consumer choices, constantly, that seem inconsequential, but are in fact, critically important. Companies spend millions of dollars on advertising, marketing and market research. Market research fascinates me. Market research is about you and me and our choices and why we decide to buy brand A over brand B. Marketing lures you, courts you, romances you into liking their brand and ultimately purchasing their brand. I don’t view advertising as a means of dictating how I should feel/think/act/purchase, I view ads as the companies’ attempt to grab my attention and make me like them and want to buy their product. So, in this sense, I evaluate and choose everything I purchase with this in mind. I have all sorts of reasons behind the products that I buy and won’t buy.
Here are some examples:
1. Tom’s of Maine, the image they create is of a natural, fair, “good-people” sort of company. I read several years ago that Tom, the CEO and his wife are actively anti-choice/anti-abortion and that a percentage of their profits fund right-wing anti-choice movements. I’ve never bought a Tom’s of Maine product again.
2. Cage free, organic eggs and free range chickens. I refuse to purchase Perdue, Tyson or any of the appalling offenders of holocaust-like death camps for chickens. I realize all the chickens are going to die and be eaten, but I will not be the consumer who gives this type of company a market. I will eat chicken and eggs from companies that allow the poor beasts to live a decent existence before they reach my dinner table.
3. Etsy. I love the idea of Etsy. I wish I'd thought of it. I love supporting individual artists that would otherwise never be able to attract my attention. Etsy is fantastic, I will continue to purchase from the individuals on Etsy.
4. Trader Joe’s is the best grocery store I’ve ever come across. Trader Joe’s has great prices for gourmet goods that would cost 3x as much anyplace else. Trader Joe’s treats their employees well, you can tell, they are happy to work there. Trader Joe’s is thoughtful and careful about the products they carry and the products they put their label on.
5. I’m finally getting to Perfume. So far the only perfumer/ brand that I cannot purchase is Tom Ford. Tom Ford crossed a line for me with his Tom Ford for Men ads. I’m totally fine with sexy ads, nudity, whatever. Sex sells so many products and I’m cool with that. I don’t want censorship, whatsoever, so I would much rather see all sorts of Tom Ford ads than to have him censored. However, I can *choose* not to buy Tom Ford perfumes. This is my own personal boycott of Tom Ford. Just for the record, I found his ads to be tired, shoddy, degrading, pathetic and inhuman. Inhuman is the worst offense for me. But most importantly, it's just plain boring. Yeah, I get it, sex sells. Is this the best you can do Tom Ford? Lube up a few pre-pubescent-looking girls and stick a bottle in their privates? If this *were* pornography, then fine, that's what it's supposed to be, close-ups of naked women. But this is meant to sell cologne, you couldn't think of anything more interesting? The models look like lifeless mannequins. They don’t have heads, faces, eyes -- they are soul-less. They don’t have pores or a single wisp of hair. But I guess that's the point. Tom Ford’s ads are shocking, and certainly cause one to stop and take notice, so they’re great ads in that sense because that’s exactly what an advertiser is aiming for – to make the consumer notice. I must wonder to myself if I am the only one to decide -- that’s it -- no more Tom Ford for me? This is particularly difficult for me because of The Posh Peasant. Tom Ford Black Orchid is a popular perfume. What do I do when customers request it? There’s a new Tom Ford perfume launching this Fall, White Patchouli, everyone is going to want it, what do I do then?
These are the sorts of things that have been rolling around in my head the past 2 days….freedom, independence, and choices. I like having these choices, they define me, and they ultimately impact a company.
PS: So I’ve been stewing all day about whether I should post one of the Tom Ford ads that turned me against his ‘fumes. I’ve finally decided, of course not! So I chose an ad I like, that has nothing to do with anything….but I was free to make this choice.

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