hypocritical : talking the talk without walking the walk

September 20, 2005

The New Yorker: Transcending far beyond its original reach

So, I'm sitting on the plane, headed to Lincoln, Nebraska, of all places. And I glance, ever so nonchalantly at the publication that my seat-mate is reading in a rather engaged manner. Much to my surprise, it's .

Now, I mentioned I was headed to Lincoln, which is a college town, and probably has a bit more diversity than some of the other towns. I mean, Omaha has , but you know what I mean.

"Are you from New York?"

"No, I'm from Lincoln."

"Are you traveling back from New York?"

"Actually, I've never been."

Stumped, I struggled for a way to continue. So I said, "Fan of irreverent cartoons?"

"I like the articles," she said without extracting her gaze from the publication.

Where have I heard that before, I thought. Thinking back to the businessman thumbing through the scantily clad women at the news stand. Ahem, I said, businessman. Try to stick with me here.

"But isn't most of that publication about things to see and do in New York?" I continued, knowing full well that, in fact, it was.

"Yes, but I subscribe for the articles."

"I subscribe," she said. She didn't pick it up on a newsstand. She paid to have it delivered to her house, time and time again. News about New York City and the theater, with some irreverent cartoons and fiction and opinion sprinkled here and there for good measure.

Interesting. Now, other New York publications, like the New York Times, I can understand. That publication covers a great deal of ground and its one of the few decent sources of news, anymore. Or The Wall Street Journal. Again, a good niche, but really a global focus.

But ? I mean, I like a good chunk of fiction as much as the next guy. And don't get me wrong, I like the prestige of the publication. But buying something, at that price, knowing that a good chunk of the content will be completely useless to you?

That, my friends, is the power of brand.

She wasn't buying it for the articles. Well she was and she wasn't. She was buying it for the articles, but it is likely that articles of similar ilk are available in other publications. Maybe entire publications, focused only on those types of articles. But she chose .

And that is extremely interesting to me.

has managed to extend its brand. Has managed to expand its reach from the five boroughs it represents to engage a much larger audience. Has managed to infiltrate the reading lists of folks in Lincoln, Nebraska. Has managed to be perceived as something more that it is.

It is what it is. It is news about New York. But the perception of what it is, is larger. And that, gentle reader, is brand. It's that perception. That perception that causes someone to pay additional money for something that contains part of what they want and a lot of what they don't need or don't use.

A Nike shirt is no different. Or a Rolex watch. Or a BMW. Or an iPod.

And I just find that interesting. And I'm glad that I learned something, on my way to Lincoln.

Have you learned anything interesting on the way to Lincoln? Or had any minor or major epiphany lately? I'd love to hear it. If not, keep your eyes open and in the interim, feel free to return.


The New Yorker: Transcending far beyond its original reach
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