Monthly Archives: May 2008

The Genius of American Apparel

Recently, my group of friends were confronted with the task of obtaining costumes for Bay to Breakers which is an annual event in San Francisco that is essentially one long, crazy alcohol infused block party. The theme of our group was “Sesame Street” so naturally, everyone flocked to American Apparel for their outfits?!? There appeared no logic in this purchasing decision whatsoever. Yet, the store was packed with the prized 18-34 year old demographic in a line usually reserved for bread lines in Communist Russia. All were eagerly awaiting the opportunity to consume short shorts, tube socks and t-shirts at severely inflated prices. (In truth, besides my group, they really weren’t many in the 30+ zone, but please indulge me) It was also ironic that none of us ended up looking like Sesame Street characters. Additionally, nobody seemed to get my “Mexican Count”. Thankfully, amongst the other 30 odd people in our group they were a few legitimate costumes.

Despite or maybe because of a CEO that has been rumored to conduct interviews with attractive female applicants clad only in his briefs; American Apparel continues to thrive as one of the most distinctive and identifiable brands in existence today. The edgy clothing retailer has now become an afterthought as the go to destination for t-shirts, hoodies, leggings, or if you simply wish to look like you live in Brooklyn and love Tom Waits. Put it this way, if you play in a kickball league you immediately know where everybody is going to get your team uniform. Ditto if you’re an Internet start-up and want to make a company sweatshirt. This phenomenon all started as incredibly savvy, well positioned marketing strategy that properly targeted the influencers and hipsters on both coasts. The combination of a borderline pornographic ad campaign, which cheekily used store employees as models and the increasing popularity of all things “indie” fueled the conversation regarding the brand amongst tastemakers. The eventual migration into the mainstream’s consciousness was inevitable and continues to be amplified to the masses via good old fashioned, word-of-mouth marketing. In the trendy Marina in San Francisco that fateful morning, one can clearly envision hordes of twenty-somethings asking their peers where they were purchasing costumes for the big event and all receiving the same ubiquitous response of… “American Apparel.”

The funniest part is that American Apparel does not sell anything unique. One could easily mistake their clothes for Hanes except made to fit Smurf sized humans. Their catalogue contains mostly simple, basic items in a wide variety of colors that are made to fit either heroin junkies or a 20 year old Brit rockers, which I guess is really the same thing. The adoring public continues to pay incredible premiums on v-necks just for the opportunity to purchase it from a guy with an ironic moustache, who secretly despises you. However, there I stood, anxiously waiting in line ready to pay $50 for some tube socks and green “Prefontaine” shorts. Many came out with a befuddled face like my friend Ali below who paid $20 for a headband. However, deep down we both know we’ll be back because we’re that dumb and American Apparel is that smart.

Headband

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Dr. Marten – Leading Innovation from high school hallways at lunch

Dr. Marten is one of those brands that will always have a significant cult following. It’s safe to say that as long as there are disenfranchised youth somewhere, Dr Marten will have a solid constituency. Recently they have become a little more aggressive in their marketing by placing ads on such hip sites as Pitchfork Media, MocoLoco and NOTCOT. It’s those quiet kids that roman the hallways that become the designer, musicians and architects of the world, I guess. The ad unit actually allows you to begin custom designing a boot for a few seconds, within the banner, before eventually taking you to the Dr. Marten site where you can complete the process. It’s nice to see such a storied, iconic brand take an innovative and fun approach to their marketing. Below is the actual unit as well as one I created with that one of my heroes, Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel gracing the boot.

Save the Bees!

Recently at FM, I had the opportunity work on the “Graffi-bee” contest held on the social application, “Graffiti”. This particular contest was sponsored by Haagen-Dazs, who have been very proactive at helping in the fight against colony collapse. Recently, the top 150 submissions were selected from the contest which garnered over 5000 entries, 1 million votes and over 800 “friends” during the 2 week run of the contest. Click image below to check out some of the mind blowing creations. Thus far, companies such as Dell, BMW and Wacom have taken advantage of the robust Graffiti community (9 mm+ members) to have people conduct enjoyable interactions with their brands. Graffiti initially gained popularity on Facebook, and has recently launched on MySpace and Hi 5 as well.

Great Moments in Advertising History

I generally tend to find advertising focused on targeting “bros” or your general neighborhood douchebag (Affliction t-shirt, Ed Hardy, Real world cast member, etc) annoying. So any body spray, beer/energy drink commercial usually results in a rolling of the proverbial eyes and wondering how so many people from the agency down to the brand signed off on such an asinine concept for the campaign. I’ve got to hand it to Amp Energy Drink however, they still managed to target the usual dumb mammal but did it in a witty, entertaining manner. However I am biased, because of my soft spot for all things that reference the “Walk of Shame”. Speaking of douchebags, I also included a clip of my favorite Real World cast member ever, “Joey” who should be on the fast track for his own reality show platform soon where we can all witness him binge drink, chow down protein shakes and inevitably, perish. Amp should underwrite his eventual demise.

Funniest Video Clip in the History of Man

I’ve never denied that I have an utterly sick and sometimes despicable sense of humor. Thus, the below video actually made me cry tears of laughter as I watched at my office desk…ahem, I mean comforts of my “home office”. The guy playing “Mr Mac” should have his own sitcom. Reserve me that spot in hell, right next to Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow for unleashing “Zohan” on the innocent masses.

Jermaine rocks the stache well

Although, I thought that Flight of the Conchords tapered off after 3 outstanding initial episodes, the following video reveals they are in mid-season form. I tried to get tics to both of their shows in SF, and they sold out within minutes. This is definitely a positive economic indicator. I wish the Kiwis were a stock as I expect their market valuation to be 3x by the end of Season 2. This will undoubtedly lead to a mediocre movie with a guest appearance by Will Arnett.

Furry Funny Fetish

I’m proud to state that during my office life,  I help the group responsible for the production of the below video  continue to do what they do, albeit in a small manner. Check out http://www.boingboing.net  for more brilliance.