On a recent trip to Vegas I had a connection at Houston airport and after feasting on a fantastic Wendy’s burger (why don’t we have Wendy’s in the UK? Or do we?) I was strolling towards my departure gate when a larger than normal vending machine catches my eye.
At work I visit a vending machine a few times a week when I get a chocolate craving and feel like a double decker; or maybe a sandwich at lunchtime just isn’t enough and the need of a packet of cheese and onion is the only way to go.
The vending machine at Houston airport though had neither of these snacks on offer, if it had I wouldn’t have been bothered, not only had I just had my Wendy’s burger but vending machines that sell crisps and chocolate are two-a-penny; I certainly wouldn’t be blogging about it!
This vending machine was very different. This vending machine sold SkullCandy headphones, mp3 docking stations, Belkin earphone splitters and Apple iPod touch’s, Nano’s and Shuffles. Yep, that’s right. Your reading ability is not failing you – In the vending machine was 3 of Apples best selling products – the iPod Touch, Nano and Shuffle.
In some ways I thought this was impressive.
Easy access to products, no shop worker hassling you and even a few quid off. But thinking about it further – I just couldn’t help wondering what Apple was playing at.
Just like when I saw Thorntons chocolates for the first time in a petrol station shop, I thought – here’s a premium brand devaluing their most important asset.
Apple prides itself in having knowledgeable staff, a quality in-store experience and the most ‘designer’ brand in the IT world. So to throw it’s products in a ‘best-buy’ vending machine just doesn’t sit right for me.
I could maybe forgive Apple slightly if the vending machine was chrome or black, placed thoughtfully in a designer shopping centre with a stylish Apple logo displayed proudly on all four sides.
But this wasn’t even close – it was blue and yellow, stuffed with several other branded products and sitting in a busy airport.
In general, brands such as Apple are fantastic at protecting their image, with extremely stringent guidelines for anyone using their logo’s in print, on the web or on any merchandise. I dare say they have departments dedicated to branding that oversee all uses of the corporate image. Then they allow their products to be sold wherever without a care.
For me that stinks of maximising the selling opportunities and not protecting the brand. The environment where the product is found should compliment the brand, if it doesn’t it cheapens it, simple as that.