The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Monday, May 24, 2004

BRAND X, FARE THEE WELL, OLD FRIEND: American business lost one of its oldest and best-known names this past week as Brand X Inc. filed for bankruptcy. In its heyday during the 1950’s and 1960’s Brand X products were Madison Avenue’s favorite whipping boys, the products that advertisers compared their clients’ products with, always to Brand X’s detriment. But the negative advertising never seemed to bother Brand X products, which always sold well no matter how many times their paper towels did not absorb, their cars not run, or their aspirin not cure headaches. Brand X loyalists refused to fall for the exaggerated claims made by advertisers and clung to the products they knew and loved, which made the company one of the most stable and valuable stocks on Wall Street for many years.

The company began to lose its grip on the market in the 1970’s when Madison Avenue decided to attack their competitors’ products directly by name. This caused a fall off in business, but the spurt of interest in mid-century retro helped keep the company profitable for many years. The end, however, could not be staved off forever, and after an ill advised move into Internet marketing and a five year fight with Wal-Mart that alienated the firm’s core customers, Brand X then had to defend itself against several hostile takeover attempts. Last week the company, stricken by the effort to defend itself, finally succumbed, taking with it a great name, one of the last great names associated with the golden age of television.


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