Tuesday, June 9, 2015

How Did Marketing Get This Complicated?

In my world there are three kinds of black shoes: black high-top Keds I used to wear as a kid, black wingtips I wear with suits, and black dress loafers for everything else.  The biggest decision I face around the issue of black shoes is whether to get tassels on my loafers, which some years seems wild and crazy and others not so much.

That is the sum total of thinking I do about black shoes.

I found the other day that my old black loafers were looking shabby so I ordered a new pair online from Johnston & Murphy.  The shoes arrived on schedule, looked great and fit fine.  Good on you, Johnston & Murphy.  Finding my mind-share for black shoes fully exhausted, I chanced to glance at the cover of the shoe box.  Stuck underneath was a black billboard, or bumper sticker, or broadside; I think it was supposed to be sitting on top of the shoes when I opened the box.  Anyway, I pried it out and this is what I read:

Apparently Johnston & Murphy had sent me the Gettysburg Address of dress shoes.  They wanted me to stand for something, but don't scream out.  (My friends are not worried.)  I should make the rules work (for me).  I discovered that a pair of shoes doesn't have to be Space Age or (entirely) Stone Age; who knew?  They told me not to settle--it's not my style.  And apparently, as Lincoln noted in his Address, there is much work left to be done here:  I'm to go out and be a player to suit myself.

I propped the tao of dress shoes up on my bureau and have sought inspiration from it every day for a week.  Now I'm posting it to you.  Because I'm wondering what's going on in the world of competitive black dress shoes that I'm missing.  Color, style, fit, price.  Seems easy enough to me.  Brand?  OK, brand.  But this is brand?  "Don't settle.  It's not your style. . .This is the age of the individual."

It made me long for the simplicity of Burma Shave:


Or the marketing at my favorite breakfast diner:

Anyway, I'm running dangerously close to not having enough dress shoe mind-share to notice when my wingtips need to be replaced.  So my branding saga is ended.  But I leave you with this simple question: How did marketing get this complicated?

And what's that?  Come again?  I thought you'd never ask.  With tassels, of course.  It's the only way--I've now discovered--to be a player.