Solid Gold Sustainability: Agrarian from Williams-Sonoma

May 10, 2012

The PR about Williams-Sonoma‘s new Agrarian collection is all around us this week. Agrarian is a line of “DIY” merchandise targeted to the upscale sustainable farmer.

If you know anything about Williams-Sonoma, you already have surmised that this merchandise is targeted to a special breed of farmer. The kind of farmer who likes their planting equipment coppered, monogrammed, patinated and distressed. Who likes chicken coops priced well into 4 figures, and for them to be of an iconic, prefabricated appearance to trumpet the designer label origins. And for farmers desiring White Glove delivery, where the term “do-it-yourself” temporarily takes on another meaning and becomes a simple command to the delivery driver who is expected to assemble it on-site with the gentleman farmer looking over his shoulder.

You could poke fun at this concept all day long, as many pundits are doing. Which is what intrigues me about Agrarian: It’s too easy to laugh at. But the fact is, when a top brand pulls something like this, they’ve usually got some business fundamentals behind it.

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Filed under: Blog, Branding, Identity Design, Marketing, Retail, Social Media by SF

Wheaties Fuel: Branding of Champions

April 1, 2010

In Safeway this week I was engaged in one of my more depressing shopping tasks: Looking for an edible breakfast cereal. It’s difficult. To my taste, most cereals are so bland and overprocessed that I can’t ever finish a whole box.

But I always need a day-starter of some kind. So there I was again — in Safeway, dully surveying the same aisle where I have been burned so many times before. Suddenly my eye was drawn to a bizarre apparition: an all-black box adorned with the glowering face of NBA star Kevin Garnett, illuminated with police lineup lighting effects and positioned over the logo of one of America’s oldest breakfast food brands: Wheaties.

Wheaties Fuel

A box of Wheaties Fuel was before me, standing out among the vast palette of beige, white and primary-colored boxes in the breakfast aisle like Snoop Dogg on the Martha Stewart show. I stood there an blinked for a few seconds trying to fathom the concept. This cereal is supposed to be wholesome, American, jock-y and very, very orange. And now: “Wheaties –Breakfast of Gangstas”? Whoa. My hand reached for the box like the root of a plant seeking water.

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Filed under: Advertising, Blog, Branding, Facebook, Identity Design, Marketing, Naming, Social Media, Twitter, YouTube by SF