Will Kings of Leon be the Eagles of the Future?

John Seabrook’s interesting New Yorker story about the concert business (abstract here; no full text online I guess), included an assertion that I found hard to swallow. Seabrook at one point wonders to Irving Azoff about the prospects of the concert business when the current crop of aging mega acts  leaves the road.

Azoff: “Taylor Swift — and she’s not even my client! — or the Kings of Leon. These are career artists that are going to be around for a long time.”

Okay, but, Seabrook writes: “Would they fill stadiums and arenas forty years into their careers, as the Eagles do?”

Azoff: “Absolutely.”

Now, Azoff has obvious bias on this matter, so maybe I shouldn’t even be thinking about it. But I find the assertion dubious. What do you think?


Update on gutted ‘Buying In’ as Kindle-holder

I mentioned this the other day. Somebody bought it! I don’t know who, and I’m not certain I’d want to know why. But maybe I would.

In any case, I was weirdly pleased to learn that it had sold.

BustedTypewriter is still selling other hollowed-out books to hold/hide devices or objects, here.

Mad Men musings

At this point I think the only interesting thing about Mad Men (to me) is the disconnect between the amount of attention it gets from the media and marketing crowd, and the number of people who actually watch it.

Did you know, to cite a random example, that a recent rerun of Two And A Half Men got nearly triple the audience of the Mad Men season premiere (which apparently was the latter show’s largest audience ever)?

Web-based pawnshop

I offer you this without comment (and certainly without endorsement):

Dear Rob –

Based on your May 14 “Consumed” column – “Brother, Can You Spare a Loan?” – we thought you might be interested in the following:

As of this morning, Internet Pawn (www.internetpawn.com) has officially launched the first Web-based pawnshop in the United States. The new company provides consumers with a unique opportunity to discreetly leverage the equity they have in their own personal valuables to solve immediate cash flow needs from the privacy of their home or office. Recently, the Consumer Federation of America found that more than 50 percent of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, and with today’s tough economy, that percentage is sure to increase. As you well know, now more than ever, a large segment of the population is unable to access credit – and for those people – InternetPawn.com can be a smart, consumer-friendly solution.

The related press release is pasted below. I will follow up with you in the coming days to see if you would like more information. You can also learn more about Internet Pawn through our online press room: http://www.internetpawn.com/about/press_room.

Thanks for your time and consideration.




The Product Is You, No. 12


[The Product Is You is an occasional Murketing series collecting advertising that is aimed at advertisers: Magazines or television networks packaging up their consumers — that is, you, the potential ad target — in ways designed to attract advertisers.

Been quite a while since I posted one of these, but I had a chance recently to clear out my office and in the process discovered some examples I’d set aside. Here’s one. It’s an ad targeting potential advertisers on the History Channel.

“There is a type of consumer that advertisers crave,” this History Channel promotion tells members of the marketing profession. “He’s hard to find, but not if you know where to look.”

The idea is that you will find them watching the History Channel, and that’s where you should tell your corporate clients to buy ad time. Here are some attributes of the “consumer that advertisers crave”: Read more


[NOTE: There is no Consumed column today, or next week. I’ve been on vacation (or my version of a vacation, anyway). The column returns August 30.]

  • Reified design: “Designy-ness is an ideological sheen on consumerism, redeeming commodification while furthering it, permitting mass-distributed designy-ness to supplant genuine heterogeneity.” I would really like to see the design blogs pick up on this and respond to it.
  • Denim sales still going strong: “Sales of premium brand jeans grew 17% during 2008 and 2.3% from December to February 2009, according to market research firm NPD Group.”
  • Blowin’ in the Phone: Studio 360 piece. “The blockbuster iPhone app called Ocarina lets you play music by blowing into the phone. Its inventor, Ge Wang, thinks that the more people playing music, the better; but even he is a little nervous about the impact of technology on people’s lives.”
  • Michael Eisner: Interview transcript: “Eventually there will be something on the Internet that is a cultural phenomenon that’s not available anywhere else, that’s not available on television broadcasts, that’s not on cable, it’s only on some Web site.” Well, there are plenty of cultural phenomena that happen on the Internet, cross over in the form of news reports about the phenomena, or follow-on media products. LOLcats, for instance. Or Twitter, for that matter. So I don’t really get what Eisner is talking about. Does he just mean a TV show that’s on a Web site?
  • Wall Street fears U.S. consumers won’t spend: “What was a surprise was the record number of consumers who said their personal incomes have worsened.” Really? Why is that a surprise? Unemployment is at like 9.5%. What did they expect? And isn’t it fairly obvious that consumer spending is going to lag while big chunks of the population are jobless, or have taken pay cuts or forced furloughs, or are afraid they’ll be in those situations soon?
  • These links compiled via delicious, and repurposed here with plug-in Postalicious. Not enough stuff? Not the stuff you wanted? Try visiting unconsumption.tumblr.com, murketing.tumblr.com, and/or the Consumed Facebook page.

Other projects update

counterwatchI mentioned a while back that I was cataloging all my collected images of counterfunctional watches in one place. That’s just about done. See: Counterfunctionality: A Gallery. I’ll add new ones as they come along, but I’m pretty sure this is everything I’d stockpiled. It’s pretty impressive if you ask me. (But if you ask me, what would you expect me to say?)

I’m still not sure if I should expand the Gallery to include non-watch examples of counterfunctionality, or just stick to the one product category. This was all inspired, you may recall, by this Consumed.

thingsthatbwAnd meanwhile, Things That Look Like Other Things will continue to be updated daily, for a good while at least. I still haven’t worked off my inventory on that one, and new examples seem to pop up every day.

This too is a spinoff of an earlier Consumed column.

That is all. Have a nice weekend.


Destroyed copy of “Buying In” as a Kindle-holder

Available from BustedTypewriter on Etsy, for $25 — part of his Don’t Judge Me project.

This hardcover copy of “Buying In” by Rob Walker has been sealed and cut by hand to fit Amazon’s Kindle 6″ Wireless Reading Device.

More here. Thanks for the tip, BT. (I think.)




  • Commenters become stars: And advertisers are there to recruit them.
  • I AM CARLES: Hipster Runoff brand extension.Or “brand” “extension.”
  • The End of Indie: “Indie doesn’t mean anything anymore. It’s dead. Which is OK, because it won. Open source, Twitter. Indie won. Etsy. The irresistible decline of major labels and network TV and corporate publishing. Indie won.” I don’t actually know precisely what that means. I think I half agree.
  • The Nuances of the FREE! Experiment: Dan Ariely on the way his research is used in two books.
  • Antidepressant use nearly doubles in U.S.: “Between 1996 and 2005, the rate of those reporting they had used antidepressants in the past year jumped from 5.8 percent to 10.1 percent. On a national scale, this translates to an increase from about 13.3 million people to 27 million.” Bummer.
  • Listener’s facial expression alters speaker’s language: Study: “Speak to a positive listener and you’ll likely use more abstractions and subjective impressions, whilst if you talk to a negative listener you’ll probably find yourself sheltering in the security of objective facts and concrete details.”
  • the writing’s on the wall: Got a note from the creator of this blog, which looks interesting. Mostly visual. This post: “My take on the designer’s pin board is it’s often a better reflection of what they are all about than the actual work they produce.”
  • Rhino Figurine | Significant Objects: “Do you ever struggle to remember insignificant facts?” Story by Nathaniel Rich.
  • Cow Vase | Significant Objects: “What I’m saying is, you basically pretended you were a mountain.” Story by Ed Park

Even threats are sponsored now

threatanditssponsorThis weekend I opened a mysterious-looking letter that I assumed would be junk mail. It turned out to be from “The Credit and Collection Unit of BusinessWeek Magazine,” which had sent me a scary-looking “Invoice” and letter that suggested I am somehow in debt to their organization. “If you dispute this debt,” the form letter told me, I could write in with a reply pleading my case. “Failure to respond will result in further communication from this office.”

Whatever. In point of fact I merely decided not to renew my subscription. Obviously Business Week knew this, as they stopped sending me the magazine once my paid-up period ended. In other words: We’re square. No “debt” involved. (And I’m not sure that sending a menacing letter makes me anxious to rethink my decision at the moment. But that’s another story.)

So anyway I’m about to toss the thing in the trash when I notice something else:

An insert touting DirectTV. That’s right — an ad! Somehow, Business Week’s “collection” department has apparently managed to attract at least one sponsor!

Are you people kidding? Has this ever worked? I’m thinking anybody getting a letter like this is either a little light on cash, or simply annoyed that Business Week is treating him or her like a deadbeat for the non-offense of deciding not to subscribe to Business Week any longer. Why does DirecTV, or any business, want to associate itself with this moment in a consumer’s life? Does anybody receiving one of these things ever think: “Oh, man, this magazine is hassling me about my subscription. Oh, wait, check this out — I think I’ll try DirectTV!”