Ugly Rubber Sandals

I always thought of myself as pretty ad-savvy, I could get how advertisers are aiming younger and younger all the time.

Then my oldest daughter turned 12.

It started out simple enough, shopping at Abercrombie. All the clothes we bought had the moose logo emblazened on it somewhere. As the year progressed, everything became a brand name: her jacket isn't a jacket, or even a fleece, it's her North Face. Her boots are not boots, they're Uggs. Her friends don't have cell phones, they have Razrs. I finally got why advertisers are sprinting toward the tween market: these kids are no joke, they really know their stuff.

However, now my youngest, at three years old, has gotten in on the action. She just got a pair of Crocs for Easter (trust me, she really, really, really wanted them--looks like she picked up my shoe fetish!). The thing is, they're not really Crocs--they're Croc knock-offs (because $30 for a pair of rubber shoes she's just going to grow out of in a couple of months is a little exessive). But she calls them Crocs, and we tell her no different. But Croc is the name brand--what do you call the shoe that isn't a Croc: ugly rubber sandal?

She's even gone so far as to tell me that she doesn't need a radio anymore, she's ready for an ipod.

Did I mention she's three?

The funny thing is, the more I thought about it, the more I realized how brands have an impact on the products they represent. My mother doesn't refer to tissues as tissues, to her they are Kleenex. And I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who have not made photocopies, rather they've Xeroxed something. We no longer record our favorite TV shows, we TiVo them. Q-Tips, Google, Blackberry... the list goes on and on.

I'm guilty of it: Google to me is not just a great search engine, but a noun, verb, sometimes even an adjective. I FedEx packages via UPS and DHL. And yes, I do own a pair of ugly rubber sandals I use for gardening.

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