As I eat my mid-morning snack (Jif on a spoon), I recall the first spring break that I visited my Dad in his new apartment and he had the gall to make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with Peter Pan. I’ll admit I had no idea until I went back for seconds, but I’m not sure he’d ever seen a more appalled eleven year old. He confided that he grew up with Peter Pan but changed his ways for my, apparently choosy, Mom.
It was then that I realized my childhood was unofficially sponsored. Kellogg’s had a monopoly on my breakfasts, Esprit and LA Gear co-sponsored my back-to-school wardrobe, Disney sponsored my vacations, and Baskin Robbins sponsored my birthday cakes. Years later, although my Jif now has Omega 3s and my Krispies are no longer cocoa, not much has changed, except I can no longer blame Mom for my brand loyalty.
I’m sure much of it is pure nostalgia, but as I find myself getting more deeply set in my brand-specific ways, I wonder how much of this is true brand preference and how much of it is, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” These days, my “loyalties” are just as strong as they are unreasonable. I’ll go out of my way to fly Southwest Airlines even if coworkers fly United, I still choose Baskin Robbins exclusively over DQ even though I really only order one of their thirty-one flavors, and I only stay at Hyatt hotels even though Marriott beds are akin to sleeping on a cloud in heaven laced with rainbows.
With all the loyalty clubs, coupons, toys-at-the-bottom-of-the-box and “Welcome back to the Hyatt Miss Tourek here’s your Regency Club Lounge key,” it’s hard not to choose sides. And once you’ve picked your poison, it can take a freight train to pull you in another direction – especially if you still get wistful when thinking of your mother’s killer PB&Js.
Now that I’m all grown up and have collected my own assortment of irrational brand loyalties, I look forward to passing my Disney-loving, Hyatt-staying, Jif-eating neuroses onto the next generation. To which brands will you be forever loyal for no good reason?