Coping: With Branded America

(Canyonville, OR)  The drive from Purdy, WA (a western outpost of Gig Harbor, an outpost of Tacoma that’s in turn an outpost of Seattle, that’s a subset of Washington State) down to our first night out on the long road back to Texas, was punctuated mostly by looking at how branded Americans are.

Take their vacation travel trailers, for example:  Elaine collected a bunch of names:

Hide Out

Polar Bear



Toy Box

Big Foot…

And the list went on. 

As we were remarking on people’s propensity to self-brand (like we need to go Mark of the Beasting, right?)  along about Roseburg, OR. we saw a truly individualized brand.

Pulled by a classic Ford Econoline Van was a self-painted trailer which has been attacked by mad men with fluorescent paints.  It was actually done quite nicely.  But it was the message that was so cool:

Imagine Chillin

We loved it. 

Obviously (to us, anyway) the person pulling what was underlying it all, what looked like a 20-year old Shasta, had looked at some of the wildlife named rigs and come up with a far cooler message that conveyed their purpose in retreating to nature.

But it just goes to show you how deeply embedded this “urge to brand stuff” has become.

Far Beyond Trailers, too…

If it was only a matter of a compulsion to mark up trailers, that would be fine.  But it’s not.

Because Seattle has been somewhat successful in football, as of late, there are so many 12th Man flags flying on cars that it would make you think there’s been a military occupation of the region by the 12th Infantry, or some such.

Understand that it’s the little stuff that you don’t think about that embeds this branding tribalism in your head.

How many cars that passed us on the road carried advertisements for various car dealers, on them?  Virtually all of them.

Am I the only guy who (when buying a car) says “I will do my own license plate frame (plain, no wording) and don’t even think about putting some BS dealer badging on the back of my car!

If someone forks over $30-thousand (and more) to buy a car, they need to be thinking about all possible revenue streams to pay for that puppy.  And selling ad space to the dealer is one possible source of revenue.

“If you want your dealer decal on the back of my car, knock another $1,000 pretax off the price.  If you want to put one of your stickers on the factory paint job, you can buy a placement from $650 for that.

If you won’t strip off all the crap, I can buy a car anywhere and most people will take my money rather than lose a sale over free billboards…”

It’s a matter of being circumspect, I believe. 

It doesn’t stop at cars…there are alligators and taverns and heaven knows what else on clothing, too.  It just doesn’t stop.  I make an exception for Elaine’s Hooters T-shirt, so I can’t claim perfection.

Kids are jammed into the game from preschool and once they start packing a lunch, it will be in some rock and roll band’s lunch box.

Their shoes will have Abdias’ name, or a Nike checkmark on it.  But not Elaine, or me.  A Coach purse is a look for women and Johnson-Murphy loafers don’t require a stencil.  Jessica Simpson clothing is more a look than a logo, too, methinks.

But does it really mean anything what brand is on a pair of sweats, for crying out loud?

My distain doesn’t seem widespread.  But I think there are a lot of us who are 60-somethings who can see this thanks to car designer George Barris.  One of the hallmarks of his work was de-chromed, clean lines and no, the Bat Mobile didn’t have a dealer decal on it, at least last time I saw it, which was years ago. But then again, the Bat Man logo has come to life on its own – and on lunch boxes…

Next time you buy a product, look at the logo size in relation to the product.  Size of logo has mostly nothing to do with how an item performs.  What it really indicates in the level of mental and social-economic  acuity of the product owner, as much as anything else.

The one car that we admired yesterday (just outside of Portland) was a black 7-series Beamer that was devoid of advertising…and, we though, “Ah, a truly smart fellow…” which may have something to do with why he could afford a brand new 7-series.

Sign Posts Up Ahead

Elaine’s always looking at proximity of signs to one another. She finds humor in the darnedest things.

Take this sign pair that tickled here funny bone:

One sign said “ Dog Boarding.”

Directly beneath it?  A sign for an Asian food joint.

Hmmm… Good sense of humor, I’ll give her that.

Seven Feathers Review

The cost of the overnight hotel was $89 and the room better than some $250-$300 priced rooms in big cities we’ve visited.

The food was great, too.  When the hardest decision of the day is deciding whether the K Bar Steakhouse or the Gathering Place buffet (seafood all you can eat for $23) is dinner, you know life ain’t half bad.

But it was the gambling that was the most fun: 

We gambled for over an hour and when we collectively were up $15.20, we called it a night.

Next time you’re on an I-5 run, the website for the place is over here.  It’s larger than expected, clean as a whistle, and as good as anything in Vegas (almost, but splurging at the Bellagio is out of budget, besides once you close your eyes, they’re all the same.).  And no, this isn’t a paid plug – this is a free assessment of it.

Some one asked me if we ever asked about comps for writing and the answer is an emphatic  hell no.  I suppose there are people who do that, but anymore, there are people who will do anything.

# # #

OK, time to roll through the news and then get on the road to Reno which is our next stop tonight…  Have a great weekend and see you Monday..

A couple of more days of rally like this, and maybe the Bellagio will come back into view… or not.


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