Advertising, as far as I’ve figured out, is basically about investing non-human things with personality, so that when we take a look at our washing powder, or margarine, or internet plan, we don’t just see a thing, we also see a story.
That story is what makes stuff valuable. It’s what differentiates Coke from Pepsi, Reebok from Nike, Mac from PC.
But what if you could put a dollar value on it?
Significant Objects is an ongoing online experiment, curated by the New York Times’ Rob Walker, designed to test the hypothesis that ‘narrative transforms the insignificant into the significant.’
In effect, it’s like watching brand-building happen on a micro scale.
The curators bought random worthless objects – unwanted knicknacks, bibs and bobs, tschotschkes – from thrift stores, and asked creative writers to invent a story around each of them.
Thus endowed with meaning, the objects were then put up for sale (with the stories in the ‘product description’ field) on ebay, and auctioned.
The results of the experiment, and the stories themselves, are fascinating.
You can also buy one of the objects themselves.