Who’s Advertising To Whom?

Who’s Advertising To Whom?

Ralph Lauren is a billionaire. That’s billionaire with a B. And billion-dollar Ralph doesn’t just
have one billion dollars. Oh no, no, no. Ralph’s got a bunch of billions laying around.
One of the things Ralph did to earn his billions was to put his name or his logo on his products –
shirts, ties, jackets, watches – and then advertise those items so people would see them and
buy them.

People like you and me.

But the funny thing is, Ralph doesn’t pay us to advertise his product. Instead, we pay money to
wear Ralph’s clothes with Ralph’s logos on them. That’s right, we pay a man with billions of
dollars even more dollars for the honor of promoting his brand.
That’s not the way things usually work, you know? The entire advertising industry – TV stations,
newspapers, Internet sites, radio channels, etc. – exists because most companies usually pay to
advertise their brands.

And Ralph Lauren’s no different.

His companies do buy ads in all those media. Plus, they
sponsor events, pay for public relations and rent signage space in the department stores that
sell their goods.

But Ralph doesn’t pay us. Instead, we pay to advertise Ralph’s companies for him. And not only
do we pay for the privilege, but each time we wear a shirt with a Polo pony on it or a pair of
jeans emblazoned with Double RL stitching, we’re telling the world that we recommend Ralph’s

We provide both advertising and testimonials. And we pay for the opportunity.
Of course, it’s not just Ralph Lauren who charges us for the privilege of advertising his business.
Tommy Hilfiger, Tom Ford, Tory Burch, and Gucci also charge us to advertise their brands for

Gucci has always been good at getting people to pay exorbitant sums to advertise their
products. But recently they’ve gone even further, selling the ad space on their clothing to other

According to MarketWatch, “For $590 you can be a walking billboard for Paramount Pictures.”

Gucci is selling an “oversize T-shirt” with the Paramount logo for $590 on its website and
Nordstrom. The shirt is one of several products featuring the Paramount logo. And Gucci is
selling a $6,000 leather bomber jacket and a $2,700 sweatshirt that says “Paramount, a Viacom
Company” on the back, complete with a reprint of the famous snow-covered Paramount

Paramount isn’t the only company Gucci has partnered with this season: The fashion brand is
also selling a $3,000 silk jacket with the trademarked New York Yankees logo on it.”

But it’s not just clothes.

Who's Advertising To Whom

Each time we drive our Hyundai or BMW, use our MacBook Air or
Microsoft Surface, strap on our Rolex or Tag Heuer watch or carry a Starbucks’ cup or a bottle
of Bud, we’re paying good money to advertise those products.

If a great keynote speaker pointed this out at a convention, or we read about it in one of the best
books on branding, we’d realize that we’re being had. We’d know that the Nike swoosh or
Adidas’ three stripes that we so proudly pay for should really pay us for the honor of promoting
their brands. And if they’re not going to compensate us, we should put our money where our
brains are and either insist on buying logo-less products or wear products with our own logos
on them.

After all, if anyone is going to earn money from the ad space on our chests and our handbags,
shouldn’t it be us?

By |2018-09-05T13:36:32+00:00September 5th, 2018|4 Comments


  1. Evolotus PR (@Evolotus) September 6, 2018 at 10:41 pm - Reply

    I express this to people on so many occasions. Just yesterday while eyeglass shopping with my husband, he tried on a pair with a prominent brand name on the sides. I told the optical shop worker for THAT kind of advertising, the designer should pay us, not the other way around. When a security alarm company offered us a “discount” if we put a sign with their name and logo in front of our house, I said “if I wanted to advertise on my house I’d call eBay or Pepsi and get real money for it.”

  2. Len Kaufman September 7, 2018 at 2:59 am - Reply

    All of the above cogent observations are exactly what has kept me from purchasing numerous articles of clothing that I liked, but refused to “pay” for the privilege of being a walking billboard. I recognize I am likely in the minority. If some company gives me a free t-shirt (or better) emblazoned with their name or logo, I’ll be happy to wear it….as long as it doesn’t say, “Kick me.” But pay to wear their brand? Uh-uh.

  3. Henry Martinez September 7, 2018 at 3:15 am - Reply

    Very interesting Bruce.

    I don’t like overpaying for Brands… have been gifted 7 jeans etc.

    Recently when dropping my daughter off at college we went to Walmart, my second trip ever to this store. As she shopped, I wondered and found a Jeans section and walked off with a pair of Wranglesr for 19 dollars…
    Hell I’ve always been a Levy s guy but my kids “gifted me” not sure where they got the money for Sevens etc. for my bday etc….

    No doubt now that Ive worn those 19 dollar wranglers from NC made in Mexico that I will never buy anything else…

    Call me not brand conscious or whatever, but hey 80 bucks in my Wrangler pockets for Sushi or whatever!


  4. Thomas Cantrell September 8, 2018 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    Great article, Bruce. LOVE it!

    For years I have refused to wear clothing with someone else’s name printed on it. It get’s too confusing. If I want to be called Ralph or (Heaven forbid) Gucci, I’ll change my name, not my shirt.


    PS ~ Hey Bruce, why is the font in this comment section so small? I can hardly see myself talk!

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