Consumer Behaviour Report (the Sherlock Holmes Brand)

Topics: Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes, Fandom Pages: 13 (4407 words) Published: August 23, 2013
NAME: Ishita Chaudhary
ROLL No.: 016

I have taken up the brand of ‘Sherlock Holmes’, the character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, from its inception in the 19th century till present day.


When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle first introduced Sherlock Holmes to the reading public in 1887, nothing could have prepared him for the fact he had created a character who was destined to become the most famous detective in the world. This British literary idol went on to break all records and has become the most frequently portrayed fictional character of all time.

Today, the brand has been invented and re-invented in so many different and exotic ways that it has the potential to keep entertaining, amusing, enlightening and keeping readers, viewers and listeners of all ages engaged for a long time to come, deviating from and strengthening the original fandom, and keeping a century-old brand as alive and as unique as it was when with the publishing of The Final Solution, Conan Doyle killed off the famous detective and had to face eight years of intense public pressure, who took to the streets wearing black arm-bands and demanding that he bring Holmes back.

Few fictional characters have risen to the prominence and longevity as the Baker Street sleuth. Like any well-crafted piece of work, Sherlock Holmes has been an inspiration in his field – informing identities of later fictional characters, from Batman to Dr. Gregory House. Sherlock Holmes, according to The New York Times, is the 3rd most read publication on the planet behind the Bible and the Dictionary. There are 357 Holmes Societies around the world and thousands of dedicated Websites. Stories featuring Sherlock Holmes have been translated into 84 languages so far.

As part of my study of this brand’s consumer base, I have taken two modern renditions of this age-old brand: namely, a series of movies starring Robert Downey Jr. and the brilliant BBC version starring the captivating newcomer and rising star, Benedict Cumberbatch.


Each age gets the Sherlock Holmes it deserves. During World War II, we got the ineffably patriotic (and anachronistic) Sherlock of Basil Rathbone; in the seventies, Nicole Williamson gave us the drug-addicted Holmes. Later still, we had the twitchily neurotic Holmes of Jeremy Brett. Each performer's portrayal (and the same is true for Watson) was informed by the form and pressure of the age in which he lived, what the society of that time valued, condemned or overlooked. However, in most renditions, Sherlock Holmes represents the following values: he is resourceful, quintessentially English, intelligent, learned, insightful and fond of challenges. This brings us to the dilemma of Holmes in a post-literate age, and the larger question of how one adapts literature for the movies, for an audience that has never read the original.

Guy Ritchie's version is an interesting contrast to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. Doyle's Watson is as much in awe of Holmes as Law seems to be unamused of Downey. Their relationship, while captivating for its free portrayal of homoerotic tension and ‘bromance’ on a scale which was clearly not acceptable in the original texts, is not consistent with Doyle's tales. Moreover, the measure of humility Sherlock possesses in the short stories is a far cry from the Tony Stark brashness that Downey sometimes carries over from “Iron Man”. However, enough of the signature cues remain intact. In keeping with the original, the study of minute details leads to the most astute conclusions by way of logical deduction. Boredom and drug use are prevalent when there isn't an interesting case afoot. He has unparalleled efficiency in the boxing ring, and his pipe and violin are always close at hand.

However, if one is looking for some brand consistency, BBC's modernization of Sherlock provides more literal renditions of Doyle's tales...
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