The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Fuck You Money …
December 7, 2006, 9:20 am
Filed under: Comment

In advertising today, tons and tons of brands try and sell ‘status’ … ‘Buy This And You Will Be Part Of An Elite Group Of People’.

The only problem with this is that often the brands are so frightened of alienating potential customers, they end up using crappy ideas like ‘Only Those In The Know, Know’ … because it helps them feel like they’re conveying status but in reality, they’re still being ‘accessible to the masses’. [Yes, I know this sort of defeats the objective, but I never said marketing people are the sharpest knives in the drawer]

We now live in a society where so many brands offer ‘status’ [even toilet paper for Christsakes!] that it’s ability to appeal to the ‘social climber’ is being diluted. Maybe these wannabe brands should take a leaf out of the ones who really get what ‘status’ is all about … the brands who unashamedly celebrate and ooze cash, arrogance and exclusivity!

Have a look at the ad below for the YELLOWSTONE CLUB – the World’s ‘ONLY Ski and Golf Community’.

OK, so that already conveys unbelievable pompousness [you should check out the ‘Owners & Management’ section on their site, it’s amazing], but the best bit is when you read the small print at the bottom of the ad …


Hell, when even a postman needs to make an appointment to deliver a letter, you know you’re talking ‘seriously posh’ – and then there’s the fact YELLOWSTONE offers both skiing and golf facilities – 2 of the most opposite [and expensive] outdoor activities that you can get!!  I wouldn’t be surprised if their golf course was underground heated or their snow was flown in specially each day!

Everything about this place exudes an air of keeping the ‘riff-raff’ out … or keeping the ‘super rich together’ … and whilst that is splendidly revolting, I do have to applaud their arrogance to quite happily and openly turn their noses up at the masses.  Infact you get the distinct impression that unless your family name has been celebrated for at least 5 generations, you won’t get within 100kms of the place – even if you have untold riches and are arriving by private Lear Jet!  [Still sounds like that place Yogi Bear lived though!]

I call this the ‘FUCK YOU’ effect … where the ‘status’ being offered is the most exclusive of them all, the status of not having to care what others think of you as you’ve made it, and don’t need anyone’s help ever again.

Like the words, ‘Revolution’, ‘Fun’ and ‘Exciting’ … Advertising has changed the meaning of ‘status’.

It’s no longer about exclusivity – it’s about belonging to a group of people who want to feel they are moving up the ‘ladder-of-success’ … even though in reality, many of them are getting into massive debts in a desperate attempt to fill the hole of work/life boredom and under-valued emptiness. 

OK, I’m being especially harsh … but when you look at who is/was driving the sales of plasma televisions, cable and even BMW’s [in the UK, they outsell the Ford Mondeo!] – you have to admit, alot of people are subscribing to ‘living a lifestyle’ rather than a ‘life’.

Anyway, if brands really want to make ‘status’ valuable again in their advertising [ignoring the financial ramifications they are having on people/cultures] they should embrace the tried and tested concept of the ‘super-elite’ – the concept of alienation, because nothing demonstrates ‘status’ like an ad showing arrogance – best demonstrated by the ‘finger’ one from Bentley. Genius!

17 Comments so far
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I have a meeting with a client who keeps saying they want to aspirational and your posting lets me scare the crap out of them. Brilliant work

Comment by Gavin James

You are so spot on here.
Having just traveled through Europe as a (not so wealthy) 25 year old backpacker, I can attest to this kind of attitude shown by the “whawhaa” brands (as me and my friends labeled them.)

Case in point, Louis Vuitton: Shuffling through their 5 story high flagship store on the Champs D’Elisse, i remember thinking exactly the same thing as you have described in your post. The cheapest thing I found in that store was a handkerchief. It was around about $100.
I was disgusted! But also in admiration. Here was a place, so arrogant about how cool they were that they’d charge you 200 euro for cufflinks. If you couldn’t afford it, then bad luck! “Feel free to walk around the store some more and wish you were someone wealthy though!”

Needless to say the shop was packed, and people – sorry I mean newly married men on their honeymoons – were paying the thousands of dollars for a little clutch bag to please the excited wife.
LV was the pinnacle of snobby attitude and alienation, it felt more like a tourist place to come and “see” the prices rather than shop.

To tie into your other post about over-paid movie stars. With our obsession with needing to be higher class and obtain treasures reserved for the rich and richest, it’s no wonder fake/pirate designer gear sells so well too!

I did however drop almost $500 on a pair of sunnies in Salvatore Ferragamo in Rome. Boy was I popular with all the sales assistants once they realised that scruffy guy in the shorts and thongs was actually going to buy something!

Comment by Age

I love that idea, the scruff suddenly turns round with a wad of cash and makes the assistants who turned their nose run towards you quickly…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I love it when pre-conceived ideas are fucked up.

One of the best was an old client of mine who went to buy a Porsche but was basically turned away because they thought he was ‘having them on’ given he was a scruffy bastard.

So what did he do?

He went and bought a Ferrari and left it parked in the Porsche dealership carpark [that turned him away] and posted the keys through the office door.

After a few hours, the dealers called the Police to tell them a car had been left there and maybe it was stolen. PC Plod track down my client via his registration and ask what’s going on. He gives them an excuse and promises to go and pick the car up that afternoon.

So later that day, he pops to the dealership and yet again the salesmen look at him like he’s scum.

Just as they are about to tell him to bugger off he announces he’s come to pick up the keys to his Ferrari. With the salesmen opened mouthed, he turned around and shouts, “Don’t Judge Wealth By Your Fake Standards You Fucking Losers” and walked out feeling like he’d just conquered the World.

He will forever be my hero!

Comment by Rob

Genius. That man is a modern day social hero.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Yes he is … and he’s another Champagne Socialist. I’m telling you – it’s the future trend to capitalise on!

Comment by Rob

I wouldnt mind the money to be a Champagne Socialist! 🙂

Btw, apparently my blog (along with Adliterate, Faris, and a couple of others I cant remember) are being mentioned in Russell Davies column in Campaign today. Hurrah!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Odd. It didnt show up on the left that I posted the above comment. Which is a pain as its directed to you…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Top news … though he should also mention … the selfish sod, hahaha

Comment by Rob

One mention in Campaign is more than generous enough :). And to be included alongside blogs like Richard and Faris is an honour!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Don’t underestimate your value in this whole planningsphereworld … sure it is great to be mentioned alongside them but you deserve it both for your passion and your insight.

Comment by Rob

Why thank you!
I am very wary of believing my own hype so to speak. After all (as Faris is discussing now) its too easy to stop thinking like an average person in how you look at ads/brands.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Our job is not to ‘think’ like an average consumer, our job is to ‘hear’ the average consumer. It’s about empathy and understanding, not expression and post rationalisation.

Adam Lury once said to me the biggest problem with planning is that too many planners make judgements based on their views, not the consumers – so whilst Faris is right in what he say’s, it still is no excuse to believe you are the voice of all consumers because you eat cereal and go down the pub.

Comment by Rob

Very true. I like to think that I can see both viewpoints; as like you say, going to a pub doesnt make you Joe Average.

Though I always believe that its easier to understand someone if you can see their viewpoint. Id hate to only be able to see one side of anything. Abstract cubism gets the objects and the positions, but the perspective is all wrong…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Absolutely … but in my opinion, empathy and openmindedness are probably the best skills ‘in the field’ for a planner and then maybe – just maybe – your opinion can be more valid based on breadth & depth rather than ego and arrogance.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not slagging Faris off – he’s great and I do agree too many planners lose perspective of what people are really going through in their lives – I just want to make sure we really understand them rather than think it’s OK to pretend we’re one of them. [Even if alot of good planners can remain ‘human’ first, ‘advertising’ second]

Comment by Rob

[…] so successful they don’t give a shit what others think [“Fuck you money”, as I wrote here] then I would have suggested they follow the lead of the brilliant ‘spoof’ Bentley ad […]

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