Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Stuff. Like iPhones. For Peacocks.

It made me think about Roy, this article I read today in The New York Times. Roy is at APA in San Francisco. I miss him. My inbox is practically empty. He texts, and he left me a voicemail, but it's not the same. I want him to come home to be with me and ClinkShrink.

Okay, so the article, it was about stuff, and why we buy it and why we care about brands. Stuff, like iPhones. Roy loves his iPhone. He can talk about "apps" for hours.

In Message in What We Buy But No One's Listening, John Tierney writes:
Instead of running focus groups and spinning theories, he says, marketers could learn more by administering scientifically calibrated tests of intelligence and personality traits. If marketers (or their customers) understood biologists’ new calculations about animals’ “costly signaling,” Dr. Miller says, they’d see that Harvard diplomas and iPhones send the same kind of signal as the ornate tail of a peacock.


Anonymous said...

Many people do buy many things for status, that is certainly true. I personally buy many really nice things just to give myself pleasure, though. Many brands that have status also are the prettiest to look at, most functional items for sale, that are a pleasure to hold and use. There's value in that for me. I rarely discuss or show my "stuff" to other people, so I don't think everyone buys things to display them. On the other hand, certain bloggers (er.. tweeters) take photos of their stuff and stick it up on line with a challenge to everyone in cyberspace to "just try and top 'em".

Meg said...

When I saw the words "Stuff" and "Peacocks" in the header of this post, I was sure you were going to be talking about an article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal who were trying to auction off their two ocean-front Florida mansions, along with most of their amazingly over-the-top collection of "stuff" in those mansions.

The article begins: "VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Richard and Amanda Peacock spent five years building their dream home, a 10,000-square-foot, orange mansion overlooking the ocean here. They filled it with leopard-skin chairs, pinball machines, antique Coca-Cola signs and six sports cars. It had a room full of 100 hunting trophies -- including a hyena and the head of an elephant -- and an aviary out back housing eight rare parrots."

Yes, you read that right--the couple's last name is Peacock.

A few memorable quotes from the article:

"They bought a piece of oceanfront property for $4 million and spent the next four years, and another $4 million, building the mansion. It has six bedrooms, seven-and-a-half baths, a gym and a barbershop and salon. Outside there's a waterfall, tiki bar and aviary. The couple designed much of the furniture themselves, including the gold and leopard-skin dining-room chairs.

'Richard likes leopard skin, and I like gold, so it was the perfect match,' says Mrs. Peacock."

Unfortunately, most of the more expensive stuff (the mansions, the luxury cars), on which the couple owed a great deal of debt, didn't sell.

The auctioneer they hired did manage to unload about $300,000 worth of miscellaneous minor "stuff" to people like vacationer Marie Davis, who apparently collects exotic hunting trophies: Marie Davis, a Florida vacationer, picked up several exotic hunting trophies. "I got a wildebeest for $250!" she said. "What a deal.".

Since the auctioneer charged $200,000 for his services, the Peacocks only cleared $100K on the random stuff they did manage to unload.

The whole article is available here:

(No subscription needed to access the article.)

Anonymous said...

It is tougher to buy a peacock's tail than either an iphone or a Harvard diploma.

Anonymous said...

Meg--- Gee I wish that were Roy's house. And I wish he invited me over to visit him in it. Not quite. He seems to limit his "luxuries" to things with Apples on them.