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Marshall Headphones- Just Merch, That's All...

Are Headphones the New Coffee Mug & Ball Cap??

Lots of buzz around the techie and music blogs right now about Marshall's new headphones coming out in Nov. 2010-- stocking stuffer- hint- stocking stuffer...

Yours truly was just about to hop on the bandwagon when I discovered
that this product is manufactured for Marshall by Zound Industries in Stockholm. Nothing wrong with that, but stick with me here, cuz things are gonna get whacky. Really whacky!

A browse around the ZI website reveals that they make headphones in every size, shape and color imaginable. Clients include Levi's, Smirnoff, NHL, Star Wars, Hello Kitty, Kenneth Cole,... ya get the idea.

But keep reading ok-- check this excerpt from their about info:

"We design, develop, manufacture and sell lifestyle headphones. We make resonance couture... Based in Stockholm, Zound Industries adds progressive lifestyle values and self-expression to meet the contemporary expectations of a modern consumer. By changing the perception of headphones, from a sound source to a fashion accessory, the industry is forever distorted..."

It goes on... and I had to read everything to resolve the "distorted" part, which never resolves. So maybe there's some Swedish translation issues defining that word. Probably not a good word for talking about headphones, even ones that say Marshall on 'em. Resonance couture? I won't even mess with that one.

Now I'm sure that Zound Industries makes very fine headphones, but I was kinda let down since my very first impression was that the Marshall headphone product was pro gear related. Y'know, like you'd plug 'em into your guitar, and they had built in modeling technology, chromatic tuner, metronome, jam tracks, phrase sampling, sex talk, Swedish sex talk, etc. But such is not the case. You see, it's just merch & branding. So as a musician, I'm rather disappointed. How 'bout a nifty coffee mug that just communicates coffee mug.

Positioning-wise, how close do you really want a REAL Marshall product to your ears anyway? They oughta give away ear plugs a la "audio filters" for public relations. "These filter out all the non-Marshall produced noises from the environment which are known to damage hearing in laboratory mice, but not dolphins, because we do not test on dolphins since they're spiritual beings. Just our way of contributing to your quality of life..." Something like that to look good and cover their asses.

I'm still not through here...  So, since I really dig Marshall amps and just feel they're a bit off track with the headphones thing, I thought I'd offer some constructive input on how to disseminate their brand.


Above is a photo I found in the Seattle Times foodie blog by searching "Tim's Cascade Potato Chips".

And I couldn't be more pleased with the result. You see, Seattle area based Tim's Cascade Snacks could very well be responsible for the original "Seattle Sound". Not unlike Marshall's legendary products, Tim's potato chips are VERY THICK,  VERY CRUNCHY and VERY LOUD. The photo with the hammer is totally appropriate. You see, this is the recommended way to eat Tim's chips, particularly for small children and senior citizens. They're like king crab legs, only better! Yes, better.

Maybe six Frito-Lay potato chips doth maketh ONE Tim's Cascade. Dunno for sure.

Imagine a display rack of shiny black bags emblazoned with the bold white  Marshall  logo, as you first enter your local Guitar Center or friendly Marshall dealer. These bags would weigh like a sack of granola, so you'd instantly understand the metaphor even before your first crunch. And musicians like potato chips anyway, right? Just gotta hide 'em from the friggin' drummers that's all.

Although they could put 'em in cans like Pringles, calling them "Marshall Stacks", let's stick with real chips like the ones Tim's makes, and help expand the reach of a real quality, small artisan potato chip maker. Family size bags display the logo better anyway. Marshall would also gain more mainstream attention since everyone loves potato chips-- not just musicians. It's really quite perfect you see.

The fact that Marshall is a British company, and Brits are confused between chips and french fries, isn't important. The US market IS important-- Americans buy the lion share of Marshall amps produced, so let's just get over referring to french fries as chips already. The above photo is CHIPS. Period.

So as all these young snack food eatin', Guitar Hero/Rock Band playin' consumers decide to move on to real instruments, they're already gonna know which amp to get. We've just solved a marketing/branding hurdle for Marshall. My work here is done.

Resonance couture indeed.

Coming up,  "Are Female Guitar Players the New Black?" -- Why Marnie Stern will NEVER make our Strat-o-Sisters list.

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