The Black Friday phenomenon has highlighted not just the lengths consumers will go to in order to get a bargain but also the lengths manufacturers will go to in order to get a sale. It also highlighted the very reason why I think the use of zombie brands should be banned.
What?s a zombie brand I hear you ask.
A zombie brand is a recognisable brand that has gone out of business or shifted out of its primary business. Recognisable names such as Kodak, Polaroid, Woolworths and others are brands that are still alive but not as we know it. They are recognisable in our consciousness so still have worth, but no longer produce their own goods.
Instead, they are used as figureheads for other manufacturers because of our emotional attachment to them. Other brands allow their name to be licensed to other products and are almost as bad. Blaupunkt, I?m looking at you.
Footage from Black Friday 2014 showed people in Asda fighting over Polaroid TVs. The footage is probably why so many people decided to avoid the high street on Black Friday last year and shopped online instead.
Why should zombie brands be banned?
I think zombie brands should be banned because they purposely mislead people. Take the Polaroid LCD TV example. Polaroid doesn?t make TVs. In fact, it doesn?t make anything any more as the company went bust in 2001. The TVs are made by the Xiamen Overseas Chinese Electronics Company who license the use of the Polaroid name because we know it and have an emotional investment in it.
Ask any of those people fighting in that video if they would have done the same if the box had Xiamen Overseas Chinese Electronics Company on the front instead of Polaroid. I think they would likely say no.
Blaupunkt are slightly different in that they are an existing brand with a good reputation in car audio and electronics. They also licence their name out to other manufacturers to use. Another Black Friday special, the Blaupunkt LCD TV is actually made by the Universal Media Corporation in Slovakia. It has nothing to do with Blaupunkt except that it licenses the name.
Again. Ask anyone clamouring to buy one if they would do the same knowing Blaupunkt had nothing to do with the manufacture of the product. I think they would likely say no.
I?m not saying these two brands don?t manufacture good quality products, I?m sure they do. What I am saying is that while we allow zombie brands to be used to sell products in this way, we are complicit in misleading consumers.
In any other aspect of business, purposely misleading the buyer is either exceptionally bad practice, illegal or both!
In all aspects of marketing, being honest with the consumer is first and foremost in our minds. We might embellish things a bit and sensationalise them to make a product more attractive, but we never, ever mislead them. It damages trust and will end up ruining a beautiful relationship between brand and buyer. Neither of which accomplishes the long term goal of any brand.