Consumed update-o-rama

Posted by Rob Walker on November 21, 2007
Posted Under: Update

In the most recent Journal of Murketing email newsletter, I had an update about recent-ish Consumed subject Crocs smacking down the creator of a Crocs fan site. I’ve been thinking for a while I ought to incorporate regular Consumed-related upates into either that newsletter or this site. So I’m experimenting a bit and doing both.

First the Crocs update, and then a series of other, smaller updates after the jump. Maybe I’ll do this every two weeks or once a month. If you have thoughts let me know.

In the July 15, 2007 column about Crocs, I was trying to work out why something that seemed so faddish wouldn’t die. Recently Crocs stock got socked, partly on the theory that maybe the fad is fading after all.

But the more interesting update is this: For the story, I interviewed a guy named David Chidester, who had a site called Needless to say, he’s a Crocs fan, and gave me his fan’s-eye view of the brand’s success, and why it wasn’t a fad, and so on.

He made ad space available on his site, and apparently some of the advertisers turned out to be selling things that weren’t official Crocs. So what did the company do? They sent him a cease-and-desist! Demanding that he turn over the domain to them!

He’s ended up deciding to move his site over to a new domain,, but not surprisingly, a look at that site indicates he’s not doing much enthusiastic evangelizing for Crocs lately. (There’s a post on that site giving his full view of the cease-and-desist experience.) Even the folks at I Hate Crocs were appalled. My take is that I can’t believe the company bullied a fan site. And I really can’t believe that the move didn’t get more attention among customer-evangelism blogs, or the marketing trade publications, and whatnot. The general theory, which I’ve read many times in such places, is that companies and brands need to work with such fans, and that alienating them carries a huge risk, since word of mouth can boomerang, especially on line. This seems like a good case for advocates of such theories to examine.

As a final note: I see that actually the cease and desist came just a few days after my column. I hope I wasn’t indirectly responsible. If I was: Sorry, Mr. Chidester.

Other random updates after the jump. Enjoy the long holiday weekend.

* There were a lot of responses to the October 28, 2007 counterfunctional watch Consumed, but this Designboom post caught my eye: It points to a discussion of “slanty design: the notion of deliberately removing functionality to dictate the usage of an object.” An example is those pointy water cups that you can drink from, but that you can’t set down. Also: The Josh Spear site has another useless-looking watch, and MoCo Loco has one that seems to give you the time, but only after you “tap the surface or shake the watch,” if you’re collecting. A couple more “counterfunctionality” items here.

* I could’ve sworn that I mentioned Twink — the umbrella name Boston musician Mike Langlie uses for his musical collaborations involving his collection of toy pianos — in this June 24, 2007 column about the Coudal Swap Meat. But I didn’t: I mentioned Lil Discs, which is a different project that Langlie is also invovled in. Anyway Disquiet linked recently to a free Twink MP3. Check it out. Buy some Twink here.

* I always love the Ad Age “Marketing 50” list. This year a couple of brands I’ve written about made the cut: Moosejaw, from April 17, 2005, and Umpqua Bank, from September 24, 2006. Also on the Ad Age list is Webkinz, which I was going to write about, but another part of the Times did the story instead; Sparks, which I’ve been thinking of writing about off and on for about two years and can never make up my mind; Stevia, which I once looked into and decided not to write about; plus one other brand that is the subject of next week’s column — which of course is a state secret. Also, I’m sure, there are some brands and products here that I’ll write about in the future.

* In the July 17, 2005 column, I wrote about a typeface, Bello, created by a foundry called Underware. Néojaponisme recently had an interesting interview with one of the Underware principals, here.

* I did a Muji column on January 9, 2005. Muji has now apparently opened a stand-alone store in SoHo in NYC. Reports: Here’s PSFK; here’s Freshness.

* The November 20, 2005 column addressed Chinese company Haier, slowly building a brand in the U.S. Ad Age reports that they’ve got a new global marketing chief.
* On July 23, 2006, I had a column on gDiapers, a “flushable diaper system.” According to a recent issue of Inc: “In 2006, gDiapers generated $1 million in revenue. This year, the Graham-Nyes expect to double that.” Interesting.

* Steve & Barry’s, subject of a March 11, 2007, column, is the focus of this Time Magazine piece. The chain continues to add celebrity-specific brands to its selection (a deal with Sarah Jessica Parker got insane amounts of press), such as Venus Williams. What I had missed is how Stephon Marbury, the chain’s original celeb, has been reacting, which is not well. At the end of the piece there’s amusing roundup of Marbury weirdness, and as the writer notes, “it’s somewhat amazing that Marbury has any endorsements.” That’s a very fair point.

And finally: The missing update. There’s always something in the column that I hope people will pick up on — and that in many cases nobody does. The most recent example is the phrase “monetizing empowerment,” used in passing in the November 4, 2007 column about Buddylube. I thought that pretty funny, and deserved an afterlife. Oh well.

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

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