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Sunday, 9 May 2010

A tale of loose underpants - or how to kill a great brand

I'll get back to the stuff on the left in a minute, but first I really must apologise for the utter banality of most of my marketing advice, as it seems to consist of a series of blinding glimpses of the obvious without nearly enough long words or references to social media.

However, since I often make the most fatuous mistakes myself (I committed an unforgivable sin a few weeks ago that I have long advised others against) maybe I should just carry on dishing out these platitudes.

So let's talk about what matters most.

Three weeks ago, stranded in Brooklyn, and too damn incompetent or idle to go to the laundrette, I went to Macy's to buy some underpants. I bought their own brand, and they are the worst-fitting, least- elasticated-where-they-should-be load of rubbish I've ever wasted money on. And one of the 5 T- shorts I bought to go with them ripped on first use.

I bet the big cheeses who run Macy's don't buy their own underwear. In fact I bet the big cheeses who run most large businesses don't use their own products or services, because (this is going to sound so sad) I also bought some underpants a few weeks ago from Marks and Spencer. They used to be famous for their underwear - but these were almost as bad as Macy's. So I guess Sir Stuart Rose, capo di tutti capi at M & S, doesn't buy his own stuff either.

Macy's are not doing too well. Nor are M & S. But in the US, Target are on a a roll. So after my failure at Macy's I went there and squandered a few dollars on their stuff. It fits perfectly. So I suspect the people who run Target do buy their own stuff. And after my failure at M & S (get a life, Drayton) I went to H & M and bought their. Also much better. And also, I suspect, because the people there deliver what they promise (cheap stuff that's value for money) and keep an eye on the store.

I guess you see where I'm going with this, but just to rub it all in, take French Connection. They're having their problems, and I think I can see why. No big secret. Their stuff is just not very well made for the money. Someone there clearly thinks the solution is one of the silliest advertising campaigns I've seen for a while, top left. It isn't.

Everyone spends a huge amount of time effort, syllables, powerpoint slides and all-round bullshit on marketing, and it is all a complete waste if you don't deliver something good and make sure you are doing so - in person.

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