Remember the Alamo

I understand that not all of my fellow marketing bloggers are from Texas, God forgive them, and that those who are may not feel particularly passionate about their heritage.  And I will admit, I have never appreciated individuals who spend more time ranting and raving about where they come from than they do thinking about where they’re going.  Sporting t-shirts and bumper stickers with the Texas flag or silly slogans like “Everything is bigger in…” and “Screw you, we’re from…”  is way too easy, closer to throwing up a gang sign than displaying true state pride. 

However, the Ray Wylie Hubbard in me began to surface when I navigated to Yahoo’s home page this evening; and there under the “featured” column in big blue letters were the words “U.S.’s Most Over-rated Tourist Attractions,” with a picture of the Alamo there to the side.  If that doesn’t make the hair on your neck stand up, then “you’re not from these parts.” 

But, as I read the piece by Andrew Harper, I realized that his judgement was not quite as harsh as the title had led me to believe.  He simply states that what is left of the structure itself is not worth making a trip to San Antonio to see.  And for his readers in California, New York, and abroad I think he offers a great piece of advice.  No one should plan a visit to the Alamo expecting to see a grand old Spanish mission revitalized or preserved.  The mission itself was constructed in 1724, and the battle that would make it famous took place in 1836.  She’s doing pretty well for her age, but no Notre Dame, by any stretch of the imagination. 

Okay. So, maybe the Alamo is an “Over-rated Tourist Attraction.”  But, “Tourist” is definitely the operative word.  I have visited the Alamo twice in my life, first when I was around 16 or 17 years old.  Of course, I was very much underwhelmed, but I was a tourist.  Anyone under the age of 20, traveling outside their home town, should be considered a tourist for the purposes of cultural appreciation and operation of motor vehicles.  Then, on my second visit, having learned the history and the legends that were made in the place, I took time to appreciate what little the Alamo had to offer. I observed the surrounding metropolitan landscape, trying to understand what it would have felt like to look west and see over 3,000 Mexican soldiers waiting for the green light.

Those of you still reading are wondering what any of this has to do with Marketing 208!

Well in my twisted mind it has everything to do with marketing.  I think a true marketer understands that history and myth are more important than packaging.  Much like a traveler understands there is more to an historical place than the structure that remains.  If the Mona Lisa hadn’t been painted by the great Leonardo DaVinci, I wouldn’t feel the need to travel half way around the world to catch a glimpse of her tiny mannish face, from 10 feet away.  If I knew to a certainty how and why stonehenge was erected, I wouldn’t need to hear any more about it.  But such places and things give us an experience that cannot be duplicated. 

Does this same idea not apply to marketing? 

Could I make a woman’s purse out of pool floatie material and cheap leather, stamp my initials on it and sell it for $1500?  Well, how does Mr. Vuitton do it? If I tore holes in my oldest pair of jeans and marked them up by 50% would you buy them?  How is Abercrombie & Fitch still in business? 

It’s the myth.  The intangible.  The authentic experience.  Women who shop at Louis Vuitton know exactly why they payed $1500 for that purse, just like your teenage son or daughter knows why they bought those jeans, and I know what is so great about the Alamo.

So, thank you Mr. Harper.  Thank you for warding off all those “tourists.”  They have as much business at the Alamo as I do at the Louvre.  Let’s leave the Mona Lisa to the art history majors, Louis Vuitton to the women who can afford it, and the Alamo to the Texans and rock stars to drunk to make it to the urinal!

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3 Responses to “Remember the Alamo”

  1. I loved this post and I as a fellow Texan totally understand what you are saying about the Alamo. You have to know what is behind the Alamo to have an appreciation for it. It’s like going to see the Grand Canyon, it’s just a couple of really big rocks with a valley between them. If we would all take time to learn about the past maybe we could appreciate the future a little more. If we understood better what went on at the Alamo we could see that a lot of people died there trying win our freedom for this great state we live in. Born Texan and Proud of It.

  2. Andrew Harper Says:

    Hello,

    I wrote the article you discussed, and as you can imagine, it has generated a great deal of well-deserved anger. I sincerely regret any offense it may have caused. As a lover of history myself I completely understand the devoted attachment so many of us have to sites such as The Alamo.

    For the record, please know that this lapse of mine was exacerbated by the editors of Yahoo, who added the phrase “Forget the Alamo” without my consent. This needlessly provocative title was obviously intended to generate controversy and traffic.

    That being said, I take responsibility for the piece and I have taken your thoughtful words to heart.

    Sincerely,

    Andrew Harper

  3. What a wonderful grasp of what’s meaningful in life to the individual you have. And your ability to help the rest of us get the point through such enlightened prose is astounding. For one so young, you will no doubt have a great future in the profession of your choice. I hope your marketing professor appreciates your abilities.

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