Take Off the Rubber

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to acknowledge it: the rubber wristband trend has jumped the shark.

A bit of background for my international readers: Lance Armstong’s foundation, in concert with Nike, recently introduced a yellow rubber wristband inscribed “LIVESTRONG.” All the proceeds from the $1 wristband went to providing “information and support to young cancer survivors and their families.”

More than 40 million have been sold, and not coincidentally several others worked to latch onto the trend, diluting both the message (a company called AwarenessDepot sells more than 100 varieties, for causes ranging from Irritable Bowel Syndrome to GERD) and the value (7-Eleven sells $3 camouflage bands, and donates just $1.)

From a simple idea that spread quickly and effectively, it’s now possible to be utterly confused by seeing someone wearing 4 different bands and have no idea what they were all supposed to mean. There’s surely an interesting essay about diffusion of innovation in here somewhere. (This is not that essay, but Timothy Noah takes a stab at it, with some Tragedy of the Commons framing.)

I don’t need that level of analysis. I’ve seen the end in a far more reliable source: commercials. You see, what started as a bracelet to help cancer survivors has now, finally, trickled down to become something much less noble: a cheap promotional tool for CD compiliations. Yes, if you buy “NOW 18,” they’ll throw in a complimentary wristband.

Where the yellow band marks you as a cancer survivor supporter, the green “Now That’s What I Call Music!” band shows your daring ability to twist a good idea to become just another corporate shill.

Aww, well. It was nice while it lasted.

2 Responses to “Take Off the Rubber”

  1. The Indomitable Mr. Pech Says:

    But what kind of skanky wrist strap would everybodies favorite imaginary friend wear?

    Also, where does GQ stand on matching your wristband to your ribbon?

  2. moogstqueefbone Says:

    oooh! i got a white rubber wrist band from oxfam last week urging me to end poverty or something.
    i think they should end unoriginal marketing.
    do people over the age of 15 actually wear them?

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