Marketers gone wild

A nice special-occasion dress for sale last weekend in Harvard Square.

I  stopped in a few clothing shops this weekend, and was, I have to say, dumbfounded. There were logos on the outside of everything. Everything! Sure, I couldn’t find a pair of flip flops without a logo, no surprise there. But then I went into a boutique, and there were designer labels on the outside of dresses! And a leather jacket. Would you spend a few hundred to advertise someone else’s business? I’m thinking someone will. Almost every article of clothing in this store had a label on the outside. And they are still in business. People will get used to anything, apparently.

Lisa Ray, founder of Parents for Ethical Marketing, was flabbergasted when she ran into Disney-branded paint, at the hardware store this weekend. But why would you not brand your products, and miss out on these golden marketing opportunities? It works for sneakers and jeans. Why not everything else? Seems like not too many people are objecting, so… let’s take it a little further.

There’s the designer logo embroidered on the outside of the waistband with gold thread.
Leather jackets with logo sewn onto shoulder

I find it very hard to find outerwear already because I refuse to be a walking billboard. I chose a cross-country ski jacket based on whether I could snip off the logo on the front. (Okay, but I’ve compromised here and there. It’s cold in Boston.) Lately I’ve noticed the manufacturer of my favorite wool socks have started putting their name across the toe, the better for anyone else to see when I’ve got my shoes off. I filled in the white lettering with a permanent marker, with some success. Am I the crazy one? My kids think so, yes. But just a few weeks ago, Morgan Spurlock’s logo-emblazoned suit jacket looked like satire. Today, well…

Morgan Spurlock dressed for success.

Spurlock, maker of the hilarious and eye-opening documentary about McDonald’s , “Super Size Me,” is now making a film about product placement, and has actually gotten companies to fund it. Check out the website of his major funder, Pom Wonderful.

What do you think about logos and labels on clothing? Do you refuse to buy? Cover it up? Cut it off? Buy despite the intrusive marketing? Or is the label the reason you bought the thing?


  1. Me too! The idea of paying to become someone's billboard really rankles. Cutting off is one strategy, such as the leather Levi-Strauss-style ads on jeans, and the sweater labels that decorate the back of your neck. Snip!Covering up is a less successful method of resistance. I was trying on Rockport dress shoes when I noticed the embossed ad at the back. I said to the dignified elderly sales, what's up with this ad, Dude. Quoth he, I just use shoe polish to cover that up.Not buying is the best strategy. I'm not a teenager, so a North Face logo does not help shape my identity, nor does a Tommy Hilfiger logo impress my peers. The immature are clearly the best targets for volunatarily wearing brands. I was no different as a teen: I wanted to wear what the cool kids had on, to be branded cool.Adults too. Why would I want to pay for Ralph's polo patch, as "adults" do? I won't buy even underwear if it circles my waist with jockeys.So I say to the mocked Mom, "If this be madness there is method in it."

  2. Not buying is my all-purpose strategy, too. But it's hard work. You can spend a lot of time to find logo-less clothing! My boys are not too label conscious, which is great, and they wear very simple clothes – t- shirts mostly. And it's very hard to find plain t-shirts without some kind of logo on the outside. So we buy the least noticeable, rather than spend a lot of extra time just to find a t-shirt without a logo. And yoga clothes with logos! That might be the most egregious. Be mindful, but be sure to advertise the maker of your gear. What??

  3. I dislike logos on the outside of anything, even indie designers who stick a tag on the outside annoy me. Not only do I feel like I'm advertising, it cheapens the design of the piece.

  4. Hi crookedlittlehouse. Thanks for visiting. It does seem to be getting to the point where everything has a label on the outside. I guess we're reaching saturation point because just a few weeks ago I read in the WSJ in an article about expensive designer jeans that there is currently an "anti-logo trend." Well, what do you know? We are trendsetters.

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