Staples has sold 1.5 million Easy Buttons–an artifact from the brand’s advertising–to date. How does this happen in a culture where people skillfully avoid advertising in all of its hideous forms?
Rob Walker of The New York Times Magazine explores the topic.
One ad executive speculated in Brandweek that the gizmo’s success comes from its being an “elegant metaphor,” speaking to a yearning for solutions to the complexities of the modern world. Maybe. Although if you want to get all grad-studenty about it, couldn’t you also read the button as a satire that exposes and subverts lives already drenched in push-button solutions? Maybe the answer is less complicated: the Easy Button is simply the latest in a long line of amusing but otherwise useless geegaws like the Magic 8 Ball, Big Mouth Billy Bass and the Pet Rock. Which isn’t to say that its success isn’t impressive. Making a hit product, wherever it may fall on the spectrum of utility, is really, really hard.