Monday, August 11, 2008

Rob Walker

Brandweek editor Todd Wasserman interviewed Rob Walker about Walker's new book, Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are.

The beginning of the Q & A:

Brandweek: You note in the book that you didn't consider yourself a consumer or subject to branding, but you did have an affinity for Converse and were upset when Nike bought the brand. Did you ever get to the bottom of why you felt that way? In the book you go through some ideas, but note that the main impetus was "consumers who wore the sneakers." Does that explain it?

Rob Walker: For me, yeah, I think that was the primary thing. I'm sure it was sort of reinforced over time, when, say Kurt Cobain wore them—"No surprise, Kurt Cobain is my kind of guy!" That sort of feeling.

But the important thing about it, with this brand or any other, is that it's never really a conscious process: Nobody has ever literally said, "I want to express my individuality, and therefore I will purchase the sneakers that I associate with my maverick rock and roll heroes." It's always a subtle process, a non-conscious process.

For me, it took the jolt of the Nike thing to make me focus on it at all—to make me realize that despite my brandproof self-image, it turned out this sneaker brand did have some kind of meaning for me.

This had a big effect on how I approached the book—it made me want to explore how, even though most of us think of ourselves as "above" branding, we're all susceptible to it on some level. And I think that there's actually a kind of power in understanding that this is so.
Read the complete Q & A.

The Page 99 Test: Buying In.

--Marshal Zeringue