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August 24, 2007

Great Expectations and Broken Promises

“What are you doing here?” Admittedly I was stunned. “At the top of Rockefeller Center, you must be kidding?” I had been taken so off guard that my reaction had been an involuntary (and audible) one, leaving various and sundry German, Russian and Irish tourists looking askance at the emoting American. I ignored them. You didn’t belong there and I knew it. And most importantly, I thought you knew it.  Frankly, that is one of the things I admired about you, and had since we first met. You had a true sense of who you were, and didn’t aspire to be anything more, just better. As we became friends, I must’ve seen you at least once a week and sometimes found myself using the smallest excuses to see you. Now, I just felt this weird sense of disappointment. Not anything I couldn’t get over, not a full-fledged betrayal others had experienced in their relationships, but the type of thing that leaves you wondering…and questioning the relationship as a whole. So I stood there, as the flashing lights and neon assaulted my sensibilities amid the spectacular natural view of New York City on a perfectly awesome summer day. The fact it was red target icons that had so taken me aback, was more surprising to me than anyone else.


As a matter of course, I am not that fanatical consumer who spends all my free time bitching to companies. I do however, believe in the power of brands. The power to create communities, as Harley Davidson does and to inspire a sense of optimism, as Life is Good does. We all have unique relationships with brands. Some are close friends, like Target and me. And as such, we had an unspoken contract I felt they violated, leaving me questioning their overall values. Fortunately they have enough deposits in the bank that I will likely forgive them their transgression and move on, but I do feel a bit more guarded and thinking, “Do they just love me for my money and will they go to any lengths to get it?”

by Karen Evans


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