shoplifting as endorsement

Scandal! About a month ago, Caroline Giuliani, the 20-year-old daughter of the former NY mayor, got sprung stealing make-up items from the cosmetic mega-store Sephora.

Naturally, the media went nuts. We learned where she’d been shopping just moments previously (Aldo shoes), the total value of the stolen goods ($150), what she was wearing at the time (a ponytail and an oversized t-shirt), and even what she was wearing over the following week (“a paparazzi-ready makeover”  – although one, presumably, using cosmetics obtained through other, more conventional means).

None of the reports detailed, though, one bit of information it’d be really interesting to know: which brands Caroline selected as her particular guilty pleasures.

It’s a sad omission, because I reckon this could be the most interesting angle on the whole story.

Because shoplifting, post-GFC, is increasingly going mainstream. More and more, it’s a crime of consumerism, committed, according to TIME magazine, by:

…outwardly reputable, middle-class people who are walking off with French cheeses, quality meats, cosmetics, mobile phones, clothing and other goodies that they feel they need to maintain a quality of life they can no longer afford…

In other words, it’s the kind of crime that’s driven not by poverty but rather desire – the same impulses, importantly, that compel us buy stuff in the first place.

I’d love to obtain a list of the most shoplifted brands. Because it seems as if shoplifting, rather than constituting a breakdown of the consumer-brand relationship, is more like an extreme manifestation of brand romance. Obsessive love, perhaps, but love of a sort nonetheless.

After all, Winona and Naomi have done it. It peaks, apparently, at Christmas time. And there’s even been an ad about it.

Hey, close your eyes, and you’d mistake it for shopping.

So surely it’s only a matter of time before brands begin to boast about their theft rates (“shrinkage,” in the lingo).

Or create products designed to be stolen.

Or even recruit celebrity endorsers.

Caroline Giuliani for Sephora, perhaps? Why not?

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2 thoughts on “shoplifting as endorsement

  1. I also think its important to note how much shoplifting the elderly get away with. If Granny gets caught she can say “oops! I forgot to pay for this? My memory …” but often these old people get away free and clear.

    What I’m saying is: I can’t wait to be old.

  2. True 🙂 But I wonder how long they’ll be able to get away with it… there’s an interesting podcast here from Aussie social researcher Mark McCrindle about how boomers are generally “down-aging” (ie, acting younger and younger, and exhibiting the more spontaneous and social consumer behaviours that – apparently – are more characteristic of Gen Y). So game’s up, Gran – we’re on to you…

    http://www.bnetau.com.au/blog/aussierules/buyer-behaviour-gen-y-vs-the-baby-boomers-btalk/4509

    (Really though I just love the term ‘down-aging’. I’m planning on using it somehow in daily conversation soon.)

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