Is Luxury the New Pornography?
By Bob Minihan
Friday, 6th March 2009
Back in the day, Playboy magazine was pretty popular and considered borderline porno, although its content now even looks tame next to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

The running joke back then was that men who read it said: "I buy it for the articles." Today, in this topsy-turvy era, CEOs are being called onto the carpet for excesses only recently glorified.

People are being laid off, and McMansions sitting empty. And it seems the luxury category is being looked at in pretty much the same way as Playboy used to be.

So what's an advertiser to do?

One of my mentors was a legendary creative named Bill Seibert. Bill's credits included lines like "The Marines are looking for a few good men." So when he talked, I listened. Bill once told me about how Rolex owners spoke in focus groups.

He never once heard a person say, "I own a Rolex because it proves I've got a ton of money." Instead, they went on about the features: how the crystal was shatter resistant, how the movement was Swiss crafted, how it was water resistant down to 300 feet, things like that.

In those days, people didn't talk about things like being filthy rich. Or show off about it, either.

So what advertisers of luxury goods did was to give them a story. A story they could tell to others about the wisdom of their purchase. Well, guess what. Those days are back. It's not that consumers don't desire what you're selling any more. It's that they need a story that can justify it.

And, like Playboy, those shots of the pneumatic babe posed next to your logo just ain't gonna do it. In these strange days, it's no longer just about the photos, it's about the articles. As in your stories.

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