While watching the news on TV it seems that most of the commercials cater to drug oriented products, be it erectile dysfunction, diabetes, stomach ailments, and cholesterol issues. One that caught my eye was for an arthritis relief drug called Humira. Not that I have arthritic issues (although I do have a bum knee), the Hurmira commercial features a young lady searching through an antiques shop as a nod to her physical ability to enjoy a task that the drug would ameliorate. Why antiques, and she appeared to be under 45 years of age.
Perception is not necessarily reality and not anyone who wants to live and collect antiques has to be rich and elderly. What I found so stunning in the commercial is that the showcasing of “antiquing” was a subliminal connection to perhaps biking down a country road or playing with your grandchildren. There is both a physical and cerebral activity involved. Ever watch the TV show “American Pickers”; you have to go through floors, up steps, over tables, and just plain move the stuff around in search of something that connects. In the Humira commercial the featured actress touches a brass cloths valet that has a certain charm and functionality which catches her attention. It is what all antiques and decorative art should do, to be able to make a personal and pleasurable connection for what it is and how it can be useful and enjoyable.
The public image of antiques has a way to go before it gains a cache like fast cars and the newest handheld technology. Just getting noticed is a start and not having a condescending attitude about our items is even more important. The upscale show phenomenon has little reason or the ability to expand its public persona just as the elitism of Sotheby’s and Christie’s is portrayed by their abuse and manipulation of both buyers and sellers.
The only salvation for the growth in the market for antiques is to be a more generally accepted commodity. Acceptance has to come with a recognition by the general public that, like an effective drug, you want it because you believe it will offer a positive benefit. Antiques should implicitly offer a remedy for value, functionality, taste, and style. What we need is the benefit of an industry organization that can get the message out to our potential customers. Unfortunately we don’t have an AppVie, Inc (the developer of Humira) or a Bristol Myers who have the deep pockets to promote our industry and the products we sell.