Why do people want to be like their Heroes instead of themselves?

December 11, 2020

This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.

Why do people want to be like their Heroes instead of themselves?
Mick with a Rolling Stones t shirt

Being a dreadful snob I’ve never been one for wearing clothes with the makers name on. Even in my youth I avoided the temptation to walk down the street with a favourite rock and roll band on my chest. I’ve always preferred anonymity. It keeps people guessing.

Have you ever noticed there is no branded clothing worn in film and TV dramas? All actors and supporting artists know wardrobe hate logos. So when I turn up with clothes for a shoot I rarely have a problem as none of mine show the name of the manufacturer.

Aligning yourself with a brand sends out a message. It could say “I want you to know I’m richer than you are” or perhaps “I have no taste” or it could just be interpreted as “I have no taste and I don’t care”. Take your pick.

You will, of course, search out proper quality. In British society you do but you just don’t shout about it. Infra dig.

Here in our Kingdom which remains United instead of listening to what Mary Nightingale is saying when she’s delivering the latest grief on the 6.30pm ITV news bulletin, I find myself more distracted by her latest blouse which is vastly more interesting than the latest virus death statistics. But she won’t tell you where she got it.

Why do people want to be like their Heroes instead of themselves?
Mary Nightingale
Mary Nightingale

Not so Holly Willoughby who has made an industry out of this. She’ll tweet her outfit before going live on This Morning but never refer to what she’s wearing during the show. It will often be sold out by lunchtime.

It’s a sad fact millions want to be like their heroes instead of themselves – when actually they are often the heroes but just don’t see it. Hence the cult of brands aligning with celebrities.

Why do people want to be like their Heroes instead of themselves?
Kylie and her new album Disco
Kylie’s new album MORE INFO

Kylie Minogue is a good example. Her current worth is stated to be in the region of £55 million although her latest album will doubtless boost her bulging coffers to the point she now gets her coffers custom made by a man in Dagenham who used to work for Ford.  

“Disco” was recorded remotely in lockdown and makes her the first female artist to score a British number one album in five consecutive decades. But it doesn’t stop there. She now flogs bed linen, wine, glasses, make-up and underwear. When they bring back my local car-boot sale, I’m expecting her there too.

You might think this applies only to those “on-trend”. Think again.

Why do people want to be like their Heroes instead of themselves?
Bob Dylan and his new whisky
The legendary Bob (and his whisky)

Bob Dylan is 79. Heaven’s Door Tennessee Straight Bourbon whisky has been “developed in partnership” with the legendary singer/songwriter. A bottle will set you back £75 and is 84% proof, so drinking it might have you knocking on Heaven’s door rather sooner than you’d hoped.

To be fair Mr Zimmerman had his first Billboard US No 1 in April this year with “Murder Most Foul” so he’s a tad trendier than we thought. I expect he was sent a bottle and didn’t water his plants with it.

In the world of celebrity product endorsement Ed Sheeran takes some beating. Last year he contacted Heinz and explained he was a big fan and had even had their ketchup bottle tattooed on his arm. I imagine their marketing department smiled as it was their 150th anniversary.

So they produced 150 tattooed bottles which he personally signed. The V&A museum got involved and lots of money was raised for charity. Out came “Heinz Tomato Edchup” which was sold in shops and promoted on TV. All good.

Well you’d think so.

What they didn’t shout about is a regular bottle contains around 33 tablespoons of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup. Many older Americans ride around on electric wheelchairs. These two facts cannot be unrelated.  

Then there’s the Kardashians. I suspect Kourtney, Kim and Khloe don’t influence you with their beauty, lifestyle and fitness empire but millions of younger women are and their consequent wealth has skyrocketed.

Why do people want to be like their Heroes instead of themselves?
Kim Kardashian
Kim K

Four years ago Kim was apparently robbed at gunpoint of jewellery worth $10 million and left tied up in a bath in her Paris hotel room.

It is generally thought the robbery was a stunt to garner media attention. A lawsuit brought by Kim against various media outlets was dropped following release of a video showing her using a phone after the robbery she said had been taken by the robbers. Oops.

Another unconnected fact is this mother of four is now studying to be a lawyer and is hoping to be called to the bar in 2022. I wonder if she markets a sleep mask.

Blokes are hard to influence. I go into Marks with a mission to buy underpants. I go in, find them, take them to the till and leave. Do you do that? Of course not.

Whether you’re online or in a store you flit about like a Cabbage White butterfly in a vegetable patch. This is why the marketing industry is so massive and aimed almost entirely at women.

It’s no accident the Mens department is on the 3rd floor and the Womens perfume greets you as you go in. Well it did.

Why do people want to be like their Heroes instead of themselves?
Philip Green - from hero to zero

With the recent collapse of Arcadia and Debenhams plus the rest of the High Street on life support you won’t have to worry about real time shopping soon. Going into town to buy is becoming history.  

Well not quite. Some shops will survive. They’re the small specialists. The canny ones who have come close to having their heart ripped out by Jeff Bezos (current net worth $187 billion) but have hung on by their fingernails.

These independent traders will need your support this festive season to get through. They don’t have the advertising budget to attract. They rely on you being pro-active to find them.  

You’ll be bucked to know I won’t be trying to influence you to buy, wear or align yourself with anything. My only attachment to influencing is when I have a small port or three on Christmas Eve and will be under it.

More from our one-and-only male contributor here

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