Litkicks Message Board Archive
For firsty, because I know how much he loves Dave Eggers.
Artists have often come together in groups, and a new literary network stretches from London to San Francisco - via Mantua. Gordon Burn considers what it is that Zadie Smith, Nick Hornby and David Foster Wallace have in common, and makes a case for the coterie as a creative hub
Saturday March 27, 2004
It would have to happen - and it has - that No Logo, Naomi Klein's impassioned broadside against the bullying and rapaciousness of global corporations, would become the bible for a new kind of marketing aimed at just the people who were likely to buy her book. "The marketing of no marketing" is a new phenomenon identified by the New York Times. The paper's business pages recently reported on the inexplicable popularity of an unfashionable, virtually extinct working man's beer called Pabst Blue Ribon among a young, fashionable demographic. Making enquiries around student bars and "bike-messenger hangouts" in Portland, Oregon, they discovered that the people who had started drinking PBR - who had "embraced the brand" - were also the kind of people who detest marketing. The fact that it was one beer that wasn't being yelled about in magazines and MTV commercials was one of the main reasons they gave for drinking it.
According to the Times report, Neal Stewart, the Pabst chief sales rep in Portland, "had once been a cog in the gigantic Anheuser-Busch marketing machine in St Louis and had first-hand experience of barging up to drinkers and foisting trinkets on them". But in line with the "marketing of no marketing" strategy, he had adopted a new, softly-softly tactic which achieved the same result. Toting a bag of PBR keychains and T-shirts, he would walk into bars - wearing street clothes, never a Pabst logo - tell the bartender who he was and "really just sit there, and the word would leak out - 'Hey, the Pabst guy is here'. I was mobbed", he said.
Unlikely as it seems, a similar kind of mobbing occurred, and for very similar reasons, when a new literary monthly called the Believer appeared, smartly liveried but unannounced, in bookshops in the US around this time last year. Bankrolled by Dave Eggers, the suddenly-very-rich and ultrafashionable author of the confessional memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (1999), and co-edited by Eggers's fiancée (now his wife) Vendela Vida, the Believer sparked a firestorm of gossip and speculation and was being publicly gloated over, sniped at and forensically dissected within hours of first appearing. "As soon as I was spotted with the Believer on a Brooklyn subway platform, I was promptly accosted by a dark-eyed woman in her 20s wondering where she could find the debut issue," a writer reported in the on-line magazine Salon. "Given the cultlike reverence that arises around anything Dave Eggers gets involved with ... it didn't take long for word to get out that the new literary/cultural magazine published by the McSweeney's collective in San Francisco had hit the bookstores. Already, the power of the Believer is strong."