Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Branded For Life!

If you walked through my house right now you would see a Sony television, GE appliances, a Dell computer, Gap jeans, Kellogg's Rice Krispies, and Reynolds aluminum foil. What do these items have in common? They are all name brands everyone has heard of. And that is not a coincidence.

I grew up with a father who did not believe in buying name brands. I’m still not sure whether he was making a statement about commercialism or he was just looking for bargains. I’m guessing it was a little of both.

No Magnavox, Zenith or Motorola TV set for us. He always seemed to come home with some off brand, with names close to well-known names, like instead of RCA, the brand would be ACR. Or, they would have some hokey name like a dishwasher brand called Scrub-o-Matic. Every once in awhile, he would bring something home that had no visible name at all—as if the company was embarrassed by their own product.

I happened to be at a friend’s house when her father came home with their first color television. Word got out quickly and all the neighbors on the block were lined up to check it out. A far stretch from when my father came home from work one day declaring that we would be joining those with color TVs. He unrolled a sheet of clear plastic with rainbow stripes, and taped it to our TV screen. I’m not sure on what planet that would be considered color TV, but my dad sat back in his chair and beamed.

My siblings and I suffered the ultimate humiliation when he came home one day driving a pea-green German car manufactured by (you guessed it) a company no one had ever heard of. It took us a long time to get over the embarrassment that our father wore bow-ties in an age when all the other men were wearing regular ties, but now when he dropped us off at school, his attire was the least of our worries. Thankfully, on our first trip in the new car to our grandparent’s house, the car decided to launch it’s windshield wipers into the air onto the rainy interstate. We had to pull over while my dad ran back half a mile in the rain to fetch them. It wasn’t long after, that the car disappeared as mysteriously as it appeared.

So, as soon as I became an adult consumer, it was brand names or nothing. My father? Right now, he’s probably grumbling about the slowness of his Byte-o-matic computer.

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