Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Conan Doyle brand.

It appears to be a "brand" new day for The Conan Doyle Estate Ltd., having suffered that court case loss over their control of Sherlock Holmes, and their latest web site rebuild seems to reflect that. The very first thing you see when you go to the site is Conan Doyle's signature with a registered trademark symbol next to it. A logo of sorts.

Okay . . .

Conan Doyle's cartoon portrait looks skyward at the words "ADVENTURER," "AUTHOR," "CAMPAIGNER," and more, ignoring the similar row at the bottom of the page, "BRAND," "LICENSING," and "CONTACT." If you follow the "BRAND" link, you can find another row of links with the very intriguing "LIFESTYLE" link, which leads to bits from all the big media franchises who paid the Conan Doyle Estate a little money before the court case business and something called "the Baker Street Academy Project." I was kind of hoping for tips on leading a "Conan Doyle" lifestyle, so a Downey preview and some . . . hey, why does the BBC Sherlock image not have its logo on it, like Elementary and Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows. Hmmm.

Stepping back, there is a "PRODUCTS" link that seems more lifestyle-oriented than the "LIFESTYLE" link. Here you can see Conan Doyle watches, luggage, pens, pipes, rum, hankies, and moustache wax, all branded with the Doyle brand.

Okay, I wasn't clicking on the Doyle historical links, which are the sites best content, but even they end with the words, "Inspired by what you see? Interested in aligning your brand or product with the legendary Conan Doyle? Contact the Estate."

I was reminded of the first time I visited Graceland in Memphis, and realized how fully that Elvis Presley had gone from entertainer to commodity, from part of our culture to marketing brand. It was one of those moments where you go, "Yes, I guess there's money to be made there," but feel a little saddened by the fact that our history and common culture can be so easily put up for sale. Yes, Elvis was an entertainment product from the start, just as Conan Doyle's writings, but once the man himself is gone and his ghost has a registered trademark on it, well . . . I guess Conan Doyle was right about the spiritualism thing, he just had the wrong angle on how it would turn out.

At a time when profiteers seem to be moving into key positions in our government in America, a little thing like seeing Conan Doyle turned into a brand just adds one more straw to the cynical camel's back. People have been being inspired by Conan Doyle and his works for a very, very long time now, and I don't think their first thought after said inspiration was, "How can I partner with a brand that will maximize my personal brand's potential reach and blah, blah, blah, business-speak, etc."

But maybe that's where we're headed. In that case, let us all be comforted by the words of Sherlock Holmes as he folded up a generous check and tucked it in between the pages of his notebook in "Priory School," then put the notebook in his pocket.

"I am a poor man," said he.

Paydays weren't his most famous detective method, but we all have to bring the money home from somewhere. Sigh.

1 comment:

  1. This effort makes Adrenaline look like a demure and reticent choir boy.