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Hunting Instinct. Deep inside, it appears we are still the same hunters and gatherers as our anchestors, before they left the bush. Why is that? We still tend to collect things, and if our collection is incomplete, we willingly hunt after the missing collectible. With kids the "have it"-syndrome usually starts with matchbox cars or dolls, with adults certain hobbies can become quite costly. And then, of course, there are stickers, in Austrian German fondly called "Pickerl".
Sticky Content. Over the years kids have collected millions of stickers from mega-events like Soccer World Cups, children's TV programs, major movie milestones and other items of young interest. Trade of doubles had been a science of its own during school breaks. In order to complete the sticker album, the last few missing sticker numbers could be mail ordered with stamps for payment. Nowadays, there is web-based collectibles trading in online auction platforms. These days a local supermarket chain started binding customers by giving them one free pack of collective animal stickers for every ten Euros spent. The name of one campaign: Stickermania! Guess, where the kids suggest their parents to go shopping?
Simple is Beautiful. Even experienced insiders expressed their surprise about the success of the simple but effective marketing campaign: Everyone counts on online presence, entering social networks and mobile marketing. But the most simple and friendly customer loyalty programs are still most effective. Clearly, children direct their parents to the shop, to get stickers they are still missing in their album.
Classy Giveaways. Recently I rediscovered my "free sticker" collection, which immediately brought back fond memories. At young age, we had paid visits to shops all over town in order to gain free advertising labels. Our battle yell said it all: "Haben Sie Pickerln - Do you have stickers?" Very popular among us was an advertisement sticker by "The First" bank in town, which at the time attracted customers with pictures of smiling money bills. Back in school, the following delightful dialogue happened among a concerned classmate and the confused classroom teacher...
Pupil: "Professor, Professor, someone has stolen
three thousand dollar bills from me."
Teacher: "By George, boy, you take so much money to school?"
Pupil: "Well, uhm, such stickers..."
Schüler: "Herr Professor, Herr Professor, jemand hat
mir drei Tausender gestohlen!"
Lehrer: "Aber Heinzi, soviel Geld nimmst Du in die Schule mit?"
Schüler: "Hmm, naja, solche Pickerln..."
Rear Decoration. Of course, we would also collect a number of more or less intelligent car bumper stickers, starting with the exemplary slow driving motto "Gleiten statt hetzen - Glide instead of rush", followed by the tricky advice to keep a safe distance: "If you can read this, you are too close." Comedian Otto developed the same idea further into a writing on the back of a motorbiker's leather jacket: "If you can read this, my wife fell off!"
Sleepy Head. A friend of mine used to have a sticker on his entrance door that said "Morning grouch-hedgehog (Morgenmuffeligel)", which combined his attitude toward early morning wake-up with a then-common military promotion campaign, using the naturally armed hedgehog as an icon. Sometime later, a colleague, who took additional time and coffee to fully wake up, would explain us that there is no "good morning", there is just "morning".
Green Slogan. The environmental movement reached out to us with a sticker containing a catchy acronym for water: "We Old Sinners Should Keep It Clean", which in its German wording exactly spells "WASSER (WATER)". Reminding us to avoid waste, in English it could possibly equal to: "We Are Tenders of Earth's Resources", although this translation attempt seems a little far-fetched.
Even a John Wayne sticker found its way into my childhood collection, long before a friend would revive my fascination for the yet so Wild West. Nowadays, I wonder what is east and what is west, as globalization blurs former cultural and social boundaries, misleading stereotypes or mental barriers and connects us beyond direction and distance.
A nice acronym that makes us think: Wasser (Water) - Wir Alten Sünder Sollten Es Reinhalten (We Old Sinners Should Keep It Clean).
As JW would have put it: "A man's gotta collect what a man's gotta collect."
Memories and Memorabilia
Target Audience. Who are collectors? Are they just people, who can't get enough? What drives their passion to acquire unnecessary things over the top, be it artwork, model cars, tin toys, stamps, coins, glasses, chinaware, literature, music, figurines or any other dust collectors that may end up on top of overloaded shelves or in storage boxes or elsewhere? The market is flooded with limited editions, the possession of which is supposed to make people feel special. For maybe one day these artifacts could become of greater value - and be it just to other collectors.
Self Gratification. As much as kids expect a treat when they have done something very nice, also adults reward themselves with goodies following major achievements or to compensate daily exhaustion. Most women apparently reward themselves with high-heeled shoes and fancy clothes for fashionable decoration, while men tend to pay extensive visits to hardware and electronic stores to add on to their collection of tools for home improvement and high tech stuff for fun. Over time, the collection grows.
Recognition Factor. Young collectors are motivated by one of the most wide-spread childhood instincts: "Have it!" Over time, one quickly realizes that it is not possible to have it all, it is too costly and it takes away too much space as well. Occasionally, adults may face a relapse, as they often collect stuff that reminds them of a long gone time when they were little and longing for things they couldn't get or simply couldn't afford when they were younger. In an attempt to buy back their past, they may collect toys, books or games that remind them of a happy time when they felt safe. It may be no more and no less than a day dream of an idealized world, in which others would take over their responsibilities. Collector's items can bring back memory of cherished moments. Even just writing about these memorabilia may make one feel young again, if he or she otherwise avoids looking into mirrors.
Team Spirit. My daughter surprised me with the true meaning of "TEAM", as in team work. The acronym stands for "Toll, Ein Anderer Macht's - Terrific, Effort Another Makes." While I am making the effort to think up another anecdote that I have collected over time, you may want to read the "true story" of Shock-Freeze Biking & The Marx Brothers or check out other things that just happen to me ongoingly, usually during Christmas Dinners.
A growing market is developing for memorabilia of all kind. Magazines and books recollect cult objects of the past and reflect collective memory of a generation.