Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Friday, August 28, 2009

Commercial: Liverpool brand stories 6

(Image credit: abby)

On being in the right place at the right time

In the late 70s, alongside punk, another style revolution, one that has turned out to be arguably more influential, was germinating in Liverpool.

As documented in Dave Hewitson’s book The Liverpool Boys Are In Town, the period between 1977 and 1982 was the time in which a certain set of ‘Pool FC fans started to stratify themselves as being apart from the rest. Mainly through taking (or perhaps re-claiming?) the attitudes and poses of the fashion conscious, and putting them into a terrace context.

Which meant trying to get hold of the latest jeans, having the latest haircuts and wearing the most exclusive trainers (‘trainees’ in the argot). Of which, these last items were the most important.

They had to be rare, and unavailable or in limited supply in England. They had to be up-to-the-minute designs. And most all, they had to be adidas.

Hewitson lovingly and indulgently re-tells the story of how these fans became some of the first beneficiaries of Liverpool’s forays in European competition, travelling farther than they should have done on their tickets, jumping turnstiles at stadiums and seemingly always shoplifting sportswear and footwear at the first opportunity.

Naturally, out of this not only came a reverence for the adidas brand but a dedication to fashion brands, as well as a flowering of much entrepreneurial activity – which some might say sits oddly with the city’s perceived (and self-perceived) status as the put-upon socialist republic single-handedly fighting off the Thatcherite hordes.

Now, how much did adidas have to do with all this? Not much, if truth be told. They just happened to be the right brand in the right place in the right time. Indeed, if Hewitson’s eyewitnesses are to be believed, it too the best part of the 80s for the brand to cotton on and realise that this was a market rather than a fad, and one that wasn’t going anywhere and instead set to blossom. Indeed, as Graeme Crossley has argued elsewhere, it has provided the future direction for the brand.

But still, let us salute the fact that a brand manager had enough foresight to overlook the criminality, and embrace the happenstance of an emergent culture they had no control over.

Sometimes, to succeed, you just need to know how to react when the opportunity comes to you.



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