Last week I got a pair of TOMS and had no choice but to take a seam ripper to the ostentatious blue logo on the back of each shoe.
I already have a job in marketing.
If TOMS wants me to market their brand, they can do three things:
- Triple my current salary
- Give me a mind-blowing health insurance and benefits package
- Not mind me working remotely from anywhere, anytime I want
I’ll add a fourth requirement: Recently I decided that my ideal schedule is one week of work, then three weeks off.
This should cycle monthly, like the rhythm and magic of the moon.
But since that’s not going to happen, I pulled the logos off the backs of my shoes.
This is because I’ve never liked to display my values through legible clothing.
Now I don’t care what other people wear. But for me, I can’t stand making public declarations about what brand I’m wearing or what I believe in.
I hate bumper stickers too, at least on my car, and I don’t stake political signs in my yard.
I don’t even like advertising my associations on my grocery bags.
I have loads of bags that say Sendik’s (a local grocery store), CPI (a company I’m proud to work for), I’m Creating a Dementia Capable Society (an effort I believe in), Progressive (I got these when someone with Progressive auto insurance rear-ended my car and Progressive packed some shit from my trunk into their bags when they were fixing my bumper).
I actually go so far as to turn these grocery bags inside out, because I don’t want to attract attention to my affiliations. I don’t want to get into “So what is a Dementia Capable Society?” or “So Progressive, huh? I like Geico.”
Most often, these horrific small talks are averted because I pack my own groceries. No one ever sees the logos in my inside-out bags.
But occasionally I shop at places where the checkout person bags my groceries, and they invariably say, “Oh your bag is inside out—do you want me to turn it right-side out?”
My answer depends on my mood: Sometimes I say, “Oh my bag is inside out because I hate marketing.” And sometimes I say “Sure” to avoid a conversation about why I hate marketing.
So why do I hate marketing, if I work in marketing?
First, I ended up in marketing. A wonderful company was hiring a proofreader six years ago, and the position happened to be in their marketing department. Over the years I moved to copywriting, and now, to my surprise, I’m a certified content marketer. (I actually have a banner proudly proclaiming this fact on my About page. But I wouldn’t wear the banner.)
Which leads to the second reason I work in marketing despite hating marketing.
Though I despise in-your-face marketing ploys, I love creating content to attract people to services that help them solve problems. I love writing, storytelling, and giving people the resources they’re looking for to make their lives better.
But TOMS makes people’s lives better by donating a pair of shoes to someone in need every time I buy a pair of shoes. So what’s my problem?
I don’t want to advertise with my attire.
And I think of marketing as sort of nuanced.
For example, I’ll like The Corners on Facebook. But as much as I dig them, I probably wouldn’t wear a Corners T-shirt.
I’m happy to be one of 7,000 fans, but I don’t really want to have a conversation with a stranger about my interests or my clothes.
Conversely, I love having conversations with my friends about this stuff. So if a friend sees that I’ve liked Corners, I’m happy when they tell me I should check out these bands too.
There’s also the vocal communication vs. written communication factor.
I only like having extended vocal communications with people I’m crazy about. Strangers on the street, not so much.
But I can do a written conversation with anyone till the cows come home.
Which is why I love writing, so through writing I’ll market nonviolence like a house on fire.
And it’s why I wouldn’t wear a T-shirt that says I Pull the Logos Off My Clothes, but I’ll write 400,ooo words about it.
But this is odd: Logos are symbols, and I love symbols.
Symbols as letters, for example, are my bread and butter.
And I love to admire the design of a well-crafted logo.
Yet I still can’t wear a logo, even if I love what it stands for.
Take my WMSE T-shirt, for example. WMSE is the best radio station on the planet, but if I wear my T-shirt from them, it’s to bed and no more.
There are some exceptions, however.
Apparently I’d rather advertise WMSE than Apple:
Of course, my laptop rarely leaves my house.
And the little white label on the side of my shoes wouldn’t come off, so I left it on.
What can you do.
It’s pretty innocuous, anyway. Not as glaring as a giant blue badge.
Badges. Maybe I was Hester Prynne in a previous life, and that A is what threw me off legible clothing.
Anyway, here’s a funny commentary on logos that speaks to my long-held abhorrence.
With this, you’d think I’m some kind of high-and-mighty fake hippie who hates corporations, which I pretty much am.
But the truth is that I’m just as much of a corporate lover as the next guy: Target and Whole Foods sometimes have shit I need that I can’t find at my yuppie co-op.
If you wear logos, I don’t have a problem with you. I’m not saying I won’t judge you, because I’m judgmental as fuck. But what you wear is your business.
And maybe Nike’s.
Whatever. It’s up to you.
PS. Check out my socks.
What can I say. I’m human and I’m full of contradictions.
Also those damn logos are stamped on. Can’t pull ’em off like a little blue badge.
I’d turn ’em inside out, but usually I just wear these socks to bed and don’t really see them in the dark.