Without Comment: Mimetic Theory in Marketing

Eric Clapton's guitars

Urge to Own That Clapton Guitar Is Contagious, Scientists Find

The chief reason for buying celebrity memorabilia (or even replicas of same, as is the case here) is not because they “provide pleasant memories and mental associations of someone they admire” and it’s not because one might make a profit on them. No:

The most important factor seemed to be the degree of ‘celebrity contagion.’ The Yale team found that a sweater owned by a popular celebrity became more valuable to people if they learned it had actually been worn by their idol. But if the sweater had subsequently been cleaned and sterilized, it seemed less valuable to the fans, apparently because the celebrity’s essence had somehow been removed.”


“The replica’s appeal is related to another form of thinking called the law of similarity, Dr. Newman said. That is a belief in what is also called imitative magic: things that resemble each other have similar powers. … ‘An identical Clapton guitar replica with all of the dents and scratches may serve as such a close proxy to Clapton’s original guitar that it is in some way confused for the real thing.’

“‘Consumers use contagious and imitative magic to imbue replica instruments with power,‘ Dr. Fernandez and Dr. Lastovicka write in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Consumer Research. ‘Semiotically signified magical thinking causes replicas to radiate aura and thus transforms them into fetishes.'”


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