British department store Selfridges, a purveyor of products from hundreds of corporate brands, is so sorry about how you are assaulted by corporate branding. So, as part of its new "No Noise" campaign for 2013, it's selling some famous products that have been stripped of their logos. Heinz, Levi's, Beats by Dre, Marmite and Crème de la Mer are among the brands that have agreed to let Selfridges offer these "unbranded" versions of their products. (Selfridges has even debranded its own bag.) The company explains: "As we become increasingly bombarded with information and stimulation, the world is becoming a noisier place. In an initiative that goes beyond retail, we invite you to celebrate the power of quiet, see the beauty in function and find calm among the crowds."
Of course, it's mostly a symbolic effort. Stripping logos off small batches of products doesn't really make the world quieter. It actually focuses more attention on them. (Selfridges is even calling them "exclusive collector's items.") Throw in all the communications surrounding "No Noise," and it seems the company is making more noise than ever this year.
Still, visually, it's a cute enough gimmick, and the whole quiet concept is linked to the company's history. When Selfridges opened in 1909, Harry Gordon Selfridge created a "Silence Room" where shoppers could "retire from the whirl of bargains and the build up of energy." A similar kind of room is being brought back, starting tomorrow, at Selfridges's hectic Oxford Street location. Expect it to be overrun in short order by curious, murmuring shoppers.