In light of the recent ‘’Play Authentic’’ events, I’d like to offer a somewhat contrarian view to the ‘’Guitar Justice Warriors’’ out here raining fire on Gibson. To begin with, I’m not pro-Gibson. I own and play a 2013 R9, which is a great Les Paul, bought new. While a great iconic guitar, with killer tone played through a 100W Marshall, it is not my favorite instrument. By far. It is chunky, unwieldy, and much more a struggle to play than most of my other guitars. But I did not buy it for playability, I got it because I’ve always wanted one, and it is everything I expected an L-P to be. No more, no less. So, while I enjoy my Gibson, I’m not a dyed-in-the-wool fan boy. Far from it. I come at this post from a perspective of business. I think that Gibson’s actions are not the problem, but rather its approach is. Let’s think on this for one minute: in the business world, nobody spends a penny if they don’t have to, unless they’re sub-par operators. So suing a competitor for any type of infringement is not done lightly, and without cause. I surmise that ‘’cause’’ in this case, is business lost to makers of similar guitars. This must cost Gibson a pretty penny, or at least must appear to do so in their financial projections. So, right or wrong, proven or otherwise, someone up top at Gibson must think that their top line is affected by copies. Well, what do you do? 1) Analyze your options, and derive multiple rectification scenarios. 2) Pick the least costly one, most likely to result in success. Optimize. In these types of cases, the company will have contacted the various competitor, explain to them (of course, via legal channels) the nature of the prejudice/injury, and seek that the competitors desist. In the absence of understanding, Gibson will have had to decide to sue. But you just don’t sue: your brand image will likely suffer from what will be perceived by some slices of your target demographics as an aggressive, imperial and bullying business attitude. Note that I say ‘’ perceived’’, and that it does not matter whether in fact you are such a corporate citizen, it is sufficient that people think that you are to be negatively impacted. So, what do you do? Well, work on your demographics. Put out a message out there, justify your right to uphold your brand, and while you’re at it, wax a little poetic about your brand and try to strengthen its position at the same time. In other words, a typical marketing day. Enter Agnesi. The Brand Experience Director. A direct marketing product/tool gone wrong. All this commotion is caused by two things: pre-existent bias against Gibson (some of this negativity against the brand is in fact a huge asset for Gibson, we can get into this later, it isn’t today’s topic) and especially by a completely ill-conceived, ill-delivered, ill-connected message. Simple as that. I believe that Gibson’s only mistake is not to have thoroughly vetted this guy, and to have poorly controlled his message. He is clearly not up to the job, and Gibson is now paying for it with its image. Again. I think the hyper-connected world in which we live in will force all companies to take a good look at their brand image, and season to taste. In closing, I believe that this whole affair is a typical business scenario of right idea, wrong execution. Happens to the best of us. Hindsight and all that… But if we must object to something, let’s pick on the sloppy execution, not pick on the instruments. Maybe a Gibson guitar is not for you. Maybe a Fender is. Maybe a Suhr. Only you know. But it is wrong to conflate instrument quality (Gibson has all levels, for all budgets, just like Fender does), with a marketing strategy. In this day and age, everyone thinks they can operate a business. We are all experts and arm-chair coaches. We forget that we do not have all the facts, and we are happy and eager to fill in the gaps with our own prejudices. Running a business, especially one with such baggage as Gibson, in NOT EASY. I’m sure everyone in the cross-hairs wakes up with only the best intentions. At the end of the day, play what you enjoy. Have fun and stay safe. Cheers.