Celebrity,Branding and other tales

12 May

New York,New York...wish I was 20 years younger

Today  is the first day that I actually have spent a day at my new client http://www.mfried.com/.You can see how busy I am, here I sit writing this blog. Today is a planning day and I have made all the plans I care to plan. It’s a beautiful day and I would like to be anywhere but here although work comes first. From where I’m sitting I can see the Navy  Yard on Flushing Ave and beyond that the Empire State Building framed between two huge cranes. I’m eavesdropping as a salesman is trying to explain a high-end shelving system, to a client who is clue-less to what he’s talking about [nothing new about that]. All the majority of retailers want to hear is how much will it cost and how much will it hold. It simply kills them that we are not a wholesaler. The thought that display is intended to raise the “perceived value” of the product  occurs to only a select few. My mind is wandering to the challenge of  still another showroom and what am I going to do with it. The most entertaining and possibility laden fixture in the showroom is a mannequin modeled after President Obama. It’s not a skillful rendition, but close enough to make for a few laughs as you the showroom [sort of the Madame Tussaud’s of Brooklyn] except he’s wearing a M.Fried tee shirt. Fortunately he’s not headed for the guillotine like most of the Madames personalities, [although our congress has tried their best to do so] 

Interested in a scratch and dent bargain?

It seems I can never get away from showrooms, I spent 30 years  at Naythons Display in Phillie trying to achieve the perfect showroom and when I thought I had done so, we were sold, auctioned off and here I am starting all over again, working for the new owners, who will benefit from my previous showroom experience.  [mind you, I’m not complaining]

I have always said that displaying the display is the hardest display task of all. Showroom is a   “damned if you do and damned if you don’t”endeavor, everyone has an opinion, but fortunately it’s mostly “my way or the highway”. In order to demonstrate the function of a fixture one is at times obliged to throw in real product, “Here’s the shelf with toilet bowl cleaner on it” It’s a toilet bowl cleaner shelf..get it?… the only problem with this is that more often than not the first question is “Where can I get that toilet bowl cleaner?’ They ALWAYS want the props not the fixture.[which should be proof that the fixture has done its job] but that seems to never occur to the customer. I have tried a number of different approaches to solve this problem. One would think that signage would be the answer, but no one reads..EVER. The sign can be right in their face and they will still ask, “what is this for?” The next solution was a photo of the fixture in action, I thought that would be the ultimate answer, I was wrong, again. “That’s not the color carpet I want”, but we don’t sell carpeting, I would explain, but it was too late, the sale was lost, the carpet color was the reason. Photos proved too distracting,… NEXT!.. After years of pondering this issue I finally had an idea. Hit them where they live! in their fantasy retail world. Never forget that as a store planner I am a retailer to retailers, [the hardest thing imaginable] So why not give them display that is the product they wish they had the customer for, in the store they wish was theirs. Give them Brands and Celebs,that’s what American retail is all about.

So..ya wanna buy a rack?

 Ok, off I went to my favorite resource, Google Image. I down loaded every high-end, status oriented product I could find in every category I could think of; apparel, shoes, handbags, autos, watches, EVERYTHING. My next stop was the printer where I had them copied, [black and white only! remember the carpet color thing] Now I have it!, armed with a wealth of printed status merchandise I matched up the product with the fixture that I thought came closest to the customer I thought would be swayed by my home-made marketing scheme.

 Into the show cases went the 2D Rolex and Breitling watches, for the guys who sell cheap audio, fake designer sunglasses and team wear..the hip hop crowd. Up on the wall behind perimeter hanging systems went the Versace logo and the latest Bentley, for the “2 suits for $100. bucks” gang. For the suburban housewife empty nesters that whine,”I want a little boutique, I’ve shopped my whole life, I can open a store” types, I plastered images of Alexander McQueen dresses and Longchamps handbags..and so it went on…I sprinkled the entire showroom with logos from Louie Vuitton, Hermes, Chanel, Dior, Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik and all the rest…

Guess what ? It worked, the simple association with the up-end caught their short attention spans like nothing else I had ever tried. The best part was the cost was all of $67.52. Never underestimate the power of brand recognition! Even the most hard-boiled retailer falls prey to the same program that they [and me ] are trying to perpetrate among their clientele. Just turn it around and use it on them. President Obama says “Visit our clearance center”, despite its slightly creepy presence it works for me…. A Celeb. Endorsement of the first order.

Certainly I will take your order, if you first take a few orders from me


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