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"Bzzz Marketing" and Johnston&Murphy

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
[This is more about "the selling of clothes" than "clothing details", so read on if you are interested in the former] Last night I read the article in the New York Times Magazine (from two weeks ago) on "Bzzz Marketing". For those who have never heard the term, this is a marketing technique whereby a company hires thousands of "ordinary people" (called "agents") who go out and proselytize about the product. For example, if a product is a book, the agents go to book clubs and recommend the book, go onto amazon and write positive reviews, post on bulletin boards about how good the book is, carry the book around with them conspicuously wherever they go to engage strangers, etc. etc. The key issue is that these people never let on that they are paid in some way to do this. So, why am I bringing this up here? Because one of the companies that is mentioned in the article as adopting this method is Johnston & Murphy, a shoe company here in the United States. I have no opinion of Johnston&Murphy shoes, but I do have an opinion about this method of advertising: I think it's more than a little slimy. And it can drastically affect how boards such as this one operate, as it removes the implicit bargain we all have when we post: that we do so to provide helpful information through first hand experience and learned knowledge, rather than through paid influence. So, this is basically a heads-up. It's up to us to understand how to recognize quality, no matter what others say. And if someone pops up with some fab recommendation of Johnston&Murphy shoes, think twice...
post #2 of 14
Johnston and Murphy shoes fall apart when I wear them. I don't buy them anymore. For what it's worth.
post #3 of 14
It's akin to guerrilla marketing, and though it can be slimy, I think if it's bad, it's obviously, embarrassingly so, and if it's really good you'll never know until you're wearing J+Ms. A lot of youth-oriented companies have "street teams". Sometimes these people are just kids out of college who show up where the target market hangs out and demonstrate the product. Sometimes they're up front, sometimes they try to hide it and are just bad, sometimes you don't know and just think "That cool guy is wearing a cool shirt." Or your girlfriend thinks that cool guy is wearing a cool shirt and tells you that you should buy one. The other day in a Towson, MD mall a bunch of kids came through in sneakers with wheels on the bottom. They were all wearing assorted, skateboard-y looking tshirts logoed with whatever company makes stupid shoes with wheels in them. One said "We won't get kicked out, we're not doing anything wrong." I thought: But you will get pointed out and laughed at by me. EDIT: Maybe this is arrogant of me, but I think for a professional marketer to infiltrate this board, he/she would have to be pretty good, and work pretty hard. Then again, we've bought a lot of Grensons and Jantzen shirts.
post #4 of 14
LOL, unless they start making the handmades again, I don't think you have to worry about members on this board buying J&Ms.
Quote:
I think it's more than a little slimy. And it can drastically affect how boards such as this one operate, as it removes the implicit bargain we all have when we post: that we do so to provide helpful information through first hand experience and learned knowledge, rather than through paid influence.
I agree completely. That's always a real danger, especially on small message boards. Thanks for the heads up.
post #5 of 14
When J&M closed all of their factories in the US, they became a labor slave shoe company, with crap product streaming from China and Mexico. If anyone pays that kind of money for a shoe made in China or Mexico, they are flat crazy. We stopped carrying them specifically because of their decision to stop production in the US. It is a tragedy really, if noone happens to know the hstory of Johnston & Murphy, one tidbit, they are the oldest surviving shoe company in America, started around 1856, and until August 2003, all of their premire shoes came from the states. Some were made in Italy, but their best and most luxurious lines were al good 'ole USA made. The first shoes that we ever carried were a group of J&M close-outs and rejects, but not anymore.
post #6 of 14
It's the conservative take on guerilla marketing. A lot of "streetwear" companies send free merchandise to celebrities, and to a greater and greater extent, to regular people they find in clubs, bars, just walking down thje street, what have you. The scouts just keep a look out for people who they would want modeling their clothes (i.e. the coolest people in a particular peer group.) If the people like the clothes, they wear them and often are asked or tell other people about them. Word of mouth travels fast, especially on the net. The only difference here is that C&J seems to want to assure their investment. I would have no problem with C&J sending, say, members of Styleforum free shoes, with no strings attached, because they are confident about their product. What gets me is that the "agents" are paid to espouse a particular point of view, and are not free to make their own judgements.
post #7 of 14
what I thought was really interesting (in that article) was that the "operatives" don't get paid - they do it for a variety of emotional reasons. hell, I wish I could get my sales people to work for free.
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
The only difference here is that C&J seems to want to assure their investment. I would have no problem with C&J sending, say, members of Styleforum free shoes, with no strings attached, because they are confident about their product. What gets me is that the "agents" are paid to espouse a particular point of view, and are not free to make their own judgements.
Just to limit the aspersions I've started it's Johnston & Murphy, not C&J, that is mentioned in the article.
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
what I thought was really interesting (in that article) was that the "operatives" don't get paid - they do it for a variety of emotional reasons. hell, I wish I could get my sales people to work for free.
I actually found that incedibly depressing: people who will devote themselves to work (for free), just so they can be the ones "on the inside" of some hyped concept or product. I will resist the incredibly strong temptation to generalize this to political or religious venues. [But if anyone else wants to, have at it.]
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Just to limit the aspersions I've started it's Johnston & Murphy, not C&J, that is mentioned in the article.
My bad.
post #11 of 14
We have had a couple of obvious shill posts in the past, and they are usually pretty easy to spot. The "1" post count is a dead giveaway, for example. Though we mock them mercilessly when we catch one, that doesn't mean that they don't still make money from doing it. I like to think, though, that the readers of this forum are generally more sophisticated than to just run out and buy something on one person's unsolicited opinion. BTW, I wouldn't mind being sent free stuff, and I'll even review it, but I wouldn't be biased toward something because it was free. I don't know if I'm really the best person for that job, though, as I have little experience judging a fair retail price for something.
post #12 of 14
Quote:
[This is more about "the selling of clothes" than "clothing details", so read on if you are interested in the former] Last night I read the article in the New York Times Magazine (from two weeks ago) on "Bzzz Marketing". For those who have never heard the term, this is a marketing technique whereby a company hires thousands of "ordinary people" (called "agents") who go out and proselytize about the product. For example, if a product is a book, the agents go to book clubs and recommend the book, go onto amazon and write positive reviews, post on bulletin boards about how good the book is, carry the book around with them conspicuously wherever they go to engage strangers, etc. etc. The key issue is that these people never let on that they are paid in some way to do this. So, why am I bringing this up here? Because one of the companies that is mentioned in the article as adopting this method is Johnston & Murphy, a shoe company here in the United States. I have no opinion of Johnston&Murphy shoes, but I do have an opinion about this method of advertising: I think it's more than a little slimy. And it can drastically affect how boards such as this one operate, as it removes the implicit bargain we all have when we post: that we do so to provide helpful information through first hand experience and learned knowledge, rather than through paid influence. So, this is basically a heads-up. It's up to us to understand how to recognize quality, no matter what others say. And if someone pops up with some fab recommendation of Johnston&Murphy shoes, think twice...
A few random musings, relevant, I think, though I am too lazy to draw the conclusions: As to this newish means of advertising (if it really is new -- and I bet if we read through a history of advertising, we could find antecedents), I only see a difference in degree and detail from any other method of advertising. It would be interesting to consider whether the advertisement (be it print, radio, television, internet) has been and is now being interpreted differently today than it was (or could have been) even 25 years ago.
post #13 of 14
I just ran across another interesting article about this issue. Stealth Marketing Bradford
post #14 of 14
I will go on record and say that I am willing to accept free products from Hilditch & Key, Turnbull & Asser, Charvet, Robert Talbott, Oxxford, Crockett & Jones and Edward Green in order to be seen wearing their products. I am even willing to forego additional payment. Other luxury goods manufacturers may enquire on a case by case basis.
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