So I was putting on my favorite pair of superhero boxers the other day, and I began to wonder: If Superman was in need of new underwear and he happened to see a pair of Superman-themed boxers in his local Walmart, would he buy them? Or would that be too weird?
This is not the first time I\’ve asked myself questions along the same lines. Oh, not about underwear: I rarely get too obsessive about underwear. At least not to write a blog about.
But if clothes do make the man, what happens if a man wears clothes that have an image of the self-same man? Or even a symbol of that self-same man? Would it be unseemly, for instance, for Tim Tebow to buy a Tim Tebow replica NFL jersey? Does Jacqueline Smith actually wear Jacqueline Smith-branded clothing from Kmart? Would Che Guevara, if he were not dead, be comfortable wearing a designer Che Guevara T-shirt?
Once upon a time, I would\’ve said that few celebrities would wear something so obviously connected with their celebrity. It would feel just too self-promotional. But that was before the Kardashians rose to power. Now everyone knows that promoting one\’s personal brand is practically a full-time occupation, no matter how bizarre it might feel.
Truth be told, I once when into a Barnes and Noble branch and bought one of my own books. It doesn\’t make much sense, really: I\’ve got a box of the self-same books in my closet, and even if I didn\’t, I could probably just write the whole thing again if I was really desperate to read it again. But still, I figured that buying my own book might trigger a sudden sales riot: \”Why, look at that wonderful book that man is buying!\” I hoped to hear people say. \”I must get one, too!\”
Alas, I did not trigger a riot. No one even recognized my picture on the back of the book. Another branding experiment gone awry.
But back to the point.
Superman doesn\’t seem like he\’d be interested in promoting his own Super brand. He doesn\’t seem to need the money, and he would be quite famous enough for lifting aircraft carriers and flying and stuff. And, unlike many reality stars, he doesn\’t seem the sort to bear his underwear in order to increase his, ahem, exposure.
As such, I\’m almost positive that he, as Superman, would never buy himself Superman underwear at Walmart–not even if it was the only underwear left. And if someone gave branded underwear to him as a gift or part of a sponsorship package, he would likely try to give them away–to some sort of underwear-poor country in South America, perhaps. He\’s a modest fellow.
But Clark Kent–now, that\’s a different story. Superman\’s alter-ego might well buy Superman underwear. Indeed, he might actually seek it out. After all, any Lex or Lois would know that Superman would never, ever wear Superman underwear. Which would make Superman underwear a perfect disguise for Clark Kent. It would fool even more people than those glasses of his.
Batman, on the other hand … It\’d really be just an extension of all of his Bat-branded doodads: The Batmobile, the Batcave, The Bat-copter, the Batpole, the Batphone, The Bat-asprin located in his Bat-medicine cabinet in his Batroom. He\’d buy Batman underwear in a Bat-flash.
Yeah, let\’s face it. Batman may be a tortured soul, but he knows all about branding.