Unbrand America
June 11, 2003 9:37 AM   Subscribe

Unbrand America
In the coming months a black spot will pop up everywhere...on store windows and newspaper boxes, on gas pumps and supermarket shelves. Open a magazine or newspaper - it's there. It's on TV. It stains the logos and smears the nerve centers of the world's biggest corporations.
posted by mapalm (115 comments total)
 
wonder if they will get a trademark on the black spot?
posted by th3ph17 at 9:48 AM on June 11, 2003


They pancaked, black dot, themselves by wanting my support in their terms. Unbrand America, hand out some seam rippers to yank those labels off of everything. As a consumer I know what I bought, don't remind me, I have a receipt.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:04 AM on June 11, 2003


Somewhere in the bowels of Madison Ave. a young marketing turk is working on a way to sell to this new "black spot" demographic. And he'll find one too.

Look, I don't like corporations having as much power as they do either, but lemme put you wise, this little "revolution," is a fart in the wind. The heads of the globomegacorps will go "[yawn] how interesting..." and go back to counting their money. All it'll succeed in doing is annoying the piss out the poor wage slave who has to scrape the silly little sign of the storefront.

NTM, ya gotta love that self important tone-"Resistance," "Revolution." My ass. You put up a few posters, that dosen't make you the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. I wish I was wrong but I have a feeling I'm not.

Besides, how much you wanna bet that, 15 years from now, most of these "black dotters," will be working in advertising? Just a theory.

Nice try, but no thanks. Go back to strategically ripping your jeans, shining your Docs, and yelling "Look! Look! I'm being repressed." I'll pass.
posted by jonmc at 10:06 AM on June 11, 2003


They pancaked, black dot, themselves by wanting my support in their terms. Unbrand America, hand out some seam rippers to yank those labels off of everything. As a consumer I know what I bought, don't remind me, I have a receipt.

Umm.... could I get that in English, please?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:09 AM on June 11, 2003


Very stupid idea. The USA (and the world) are one step away from recession and some losers decide it's time to protest against practically everything (climate change, Iraq etc etc etc) by placing a black smudge in front of people. Corporations pay your salary; corporations make technological advances possible; corporations pay taxes. The anti-globalization movement does have a few valid points (environmental harm, lack of access of developing countries production to developed markets and so on), but beyond a certain limit you're helping to destroy the very thing you want to protect.
posted by 111 at 10:13 AM on June 11, 2003


This strikes me as ... oh, what's the word I'm looking for? Oh yeah: pathetic. I mean come on -- "The black dot"? I'm supposed to see that and conclude what, now? That I should put down my Quarter Pounder with Cheese? That I should bike to work in swoosh-free shoes?

And what is it with the left's inability to focus on one issue? Doesn't it dilute the message when it's about globalism, and consumerism, and patriotism, and freedom, and corporate greed? And it's somehow also supposed to be a call to arms, or revolution, or some such horseshit? All summed up into one stupid black dot?
posted by pardonyou? at 10:14 AM on June 11, 2003


Interesting, but I really don't see them making anything other than noise and some vandalism in the name of a worthy cause.
posted by fjom at 10:14 AM on June 11, 2003


jonmc has it right. The black dot will start showing up on your cars, on your bikes and on the windows of stores. Although I'd like to condone this sort of thing, I have the sneaking suspicion that I'm going to be one of the people cleaning up after some 'Blackdotter' or 'black dot revolutionary' has been through with his Sharpie of Justice.

Oops. Sharpie is a brand name.

I have a better idea: Wouldn't all this black ink wasted be better used in writing clear position papers and researching the evil deeds of our corporate masters? Instead of giving 'revolutionaries' a reason to draw black dots on our infrastructure, buildings and sidewalks, how about drumming up support for editorials, blogs and journals?

I think this is only going to piss off people who aren't likely to see the arguments behind the black dots. I can't see how this would be a good thing.
posted by tholt at 10:16 AM on June 11, 2003


This black dot, it will smash the world, and seed a revolution, and burn down cities.
posted by xmutex at 10:27 AM on June 11, 2003


I like it.

it's hard to work like Adbusters do, trying to be smart and cool and outrageous is tough, tough work, hence their results are, spotty: I loved the corporate flag but Lasn's crew can get too conceptual for me
But most campaigns do work for me visually


could I get that in English, please?
XQUZ, you disappoint me -- that was genius: you don't ask Picasso where the lady's nose is, just the same you don't ask thomcat to elaborate. You just need to appreciate the result, the genius of it all.
posted by matteo at 10:28 AM on June 11, 2003


and everyone once again rolled over, snuffled "What's the point?", and went back to sleep.
posted by hellinskira at 10:30 AM on June 11, 2003


Umm.... could I get that in English, please?
XQUZYPHYR, They only covered the problem, not being part of the solution instead.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:30 AM on June 11, 2003


Wouldn't all this black ink wasted be better used in writing clear position papers and researching the evil deeds of our corporate masters?

No. People in general know whats up, and they dont care. My take on this campaign is that they're hoping to participate in community building by demonstrating that those of us who don't follow the corporate rule are not alone. Not a necessary thing, but a nice tactic to help make it easier for people on the edge to see its not all that radical.

Corporations pay your salary; corporations make technological advances possible

No, people do.

beyond a certain limit you're helping to destroy the very thing you want to protect

From what I've seen and discussed with others, your view doesn't match theirs. They don't want to protect corporate interests. They don't want false scarcity. They don't want quality of life linked to How Much Neat Stuff I Have. (and for clarity, s/They/I/g; I speak for none but myself)
posted by fiz at 10:32 AM on June 11, 2003


Somewhere in the bowels of Madison Ave. a young marketing turk is working on a way to sell to this new "black spot" demographic. And he'll find one too.

Brandless, blank-box mac 'n' cheese, knock-offs of brand name barb manufactured in Paraguay, pirated software from China and Bulgaria, P2P MP3 networks, and Indian-reservation cigarettes, bought over the Internet to avoid New York sin taxes, already sort of fit the bill, I think.

Wouldn't all this black ink wasted be better used in writing clear position papers and researching the evil deeds of our corporate masters?

Probably.
posted by hairyeyeball at 10:33 AM on June 11, 2003


barb = garg
posted by hairyeyeball at 10:33 AM on June 11, 2003


btw,

Cayce Pollard would love this campaign
posted by matteo at 10:34 AM on June 11, 2003


Umm.... could I get that in English, please?

Jeez, XQZYPHYR, you sound like some "English only" reactionary. Anyway, everyone knows that thomcatspikease is superior to English.
posted by pardonyou? at 10:35 AM on June 11, 2003


"I think this is only going to piss off people who aren't likely to see the arguments behind the black dots. "

I agree with the condemnation of this campaign. I do. (I especially dislike Adbuster and its anti-corporate fundamentalism; I wish the first brand they would dot-out is their own.)

But:

Every movement needs its shit-disturbers, no matter how misguided, stupid and ignorant they are. Could Greenpeace compromise and cajole governments and industries if Earth First! wasn't spiking trees? A better example is the early anti-AIDS movement; there were people "writing clear position papers and researching the evil deeds" of apathetic doctors and governments. There was also ACT-UP! which shamed those doctors, pols and bureaucrats into reading the papers and doing something about the complaints.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:38 AM on June 11, 2003


The revolution will not be revolutionized. There will be no ad campaign to successfully put an end to ad campaigns. Change will have to take place on a primarily individual level this time; we can't afford another failure of idealism as we did in the 70s.
posted by Pinwheel at 10:39 AM on June 11, 2003


I tend to agree with tholt. I like the spirit of duh dot, though, juvenile and wind-farting as it may be. I have to admit, when I pass a bus shelter whose typically irritating poster has been defaced or commented on, I feel a surge of encouragement... that I'm not alone in my irritation. Advertising is alienating our culture--not single-handedly, I know--but I enjoy seeing people expressing outrage at offensive ads.

On preview, a gree with fiz, too.
posted by squirrel at 10:40 AM on June 11, 2003


not that i'm a real dissenter from the ranks of attitude here, i see the absurdity in branding the unbranding revolution. it does seem asinine. that being said though, if i'm reading attitudes here right, are we really to believe that because something is inevitably unsuccessful or 'a fart in the wind', it simply isn't worth doing? is corporateering inevitable and thus resistance is ... er, futile?
posted by eatdonuts at 10:40 AM on June 11, 2003


I tend to agree with tholt. I like the spirit of duh dot, though, juvenile and wind-farting as it may be. I have to admit, when I pass a bus shelter whose typically irritating poster has been defaced or commented on, I feel a surge of encouragement... that I'm not alone in my irritation. Advertising is alienating our culture--not single-handedly, I know--but I enjoy seeing people expressing outrage at offensive ads.

On preview, agree with fiz, too.
posted by squirrel at 10:40 AM on June 11, 2003


I tend to agree with tholt. I like the spirit of duh dot, though, juvenile and wind-farting as it may be. I have to admit, when I pass a bus shelter whose typically irritating poster has been defaced or commented on, I feel a surge of encouragement... that I'm not alone in my irritation. Advertising is alienating our culture--not single-handedly, I know--but I enjoy seeing people expressing outrage at offensive ads.

On preview, I agree with fiz, too.
posted by squirrel at 10:40 AM on June 11, 2003


Oops.
posted by squirrel at 10:43 AM on June 11, 2003


When corporations can persuade the government to pass laws like the DMCA and successfully lobby to opt out of agreements like the Kyoto protocol, America’s democracy is dying. And yeah, this ad campaign won’t change the world, but I think it’s important to at least be a little introspective on Independence Day. The black dots aren’t the answer, but they are helpful.
posted by spork at 10:53 AM on June 11, 2003


Matteo - my favorite part about adbusters is the $7.95 cover price, the glossy finish, and the "we're going to save the world from corporations" attitude. Think that glossy paper is 100% recycled from non-deforested trees? Probably was made out of whole cloth. Think they'd go after a parody of them the way they parody corporations? Like, an 8 dollar glossy called "Ad-Busted?" Of course they would.

The black dot - if it succeeds - you'll be poor and out of work, or have to work harder for less, with limited new medicines, very limited new fashions, limited new liquor, limited food and very limited travel. If it fails, as it will, you will have annoying black dots all over your visual landscape. Woo!

Corporations pay your salary; corporations make technological advances possible

No, people do.

Correct. And people form corporations in order to make themselves more efficient at doing what they do.

This vision of The Big Evil Mega Corps Keeping You Down is great. It's very William Gibson. I suggest money and mouth meeting, and those that don't like the evil mega corps buying themselves farms and making their own things. Oh sure, they can keep whining, but it's hard to take anti-corporate or anti-globalization protestors who show up in SUVs seriously. Even ones that show up in cars. Or mass transit. Or on bicycles. All made by corporations. It would be better, posits the other side, if we didn't have those things? Or if they didn't brand them?
posted by swerdloff at 10:56 AM on June 11, 2003


From the main page, to be a part of this campaign against corporate power, you also have to:

1.) dislike Bush's actions
2.) be against the war in Iraq
3.) for the U.N.
4.) not be a neo-conservative
5.) for the Kyoto protocols
6.) for the International Criminal Court
7.) be against military weapons

Fighting unjust corporate power: fine. Forcing me to agree with your unrelated political opinions in order to be a part of your campaign: no thanks.
posted by jsonic at 11:03 AM on June 11, 2003


think about the last part of that swerdloff - if they didn't brand them - and ask yourself why they brand? they brand because they make commodities. the brand itself is what people rent when they buy branded products, and they pay dearly for that.

what would the world look like without brands? think about that. would you buy Brown Box 1 of Corn Flakes made by Kelloggs for $6.50 or Brown Box 2 of Corn Flakes made by Smith's Mills for $1.30 after finding out they both taste the same?

hmm... the loss of branding would hurt the marketing and corporate branding job sector... perhaps those people would have to get jobs where they actually produce something that matters ;)

people form corporations in order to make themselves more efficient at doing what they do

actually, people petition the state and federal government to create corporations, and the government creates it. also, most people who incorporate do so to get the government to sheild individuals from responsibilities (as well as to avoid taxes)

jsonic - if you don't agree with their posters, agree with what you do agree with - marker out some brand labels (or whatever)
posted by fiz at 11:10 AM on June 11, 2003


what would the world look like without brands? think about that. would you buy Brown Box 1 of Corn Flakes made by Kelloggs for $6.50 or Brown Box 2 of Corn Flakes made by Smith's Mills for $1.30 after finding out they both taste the same?

Don't know - how would I know the quality of Smith's Mills product if it was unbranded? Taste it? That's not so bright. Forget Corn Flakes - what about Heart medicine? Totally unbranded. No way to differentiate one from another. Give me branded goodness any day, where I know who to hold responsible, and I can rely on their prior quality and they're a known quantity in my mind.

I'd rather pay extra for branded gear from a reputable purveyor than have to do blind tastings of everything I encounter.

actually, people petition the state and federal government to create corporations, and the government creates it. also, most people who incorporate do so to get the government to sheild individuals from responsibilities (as well as to avoid taxes)

Mechanistically, yes. Actually, no. The mechanics of forming corporations are as you describe them, but the mechanics of a thing doesn't answer the why question, which is what I did.
posted by swerdloff at 11:17 AM on June 11, 2003


jsonic, you don't see any interrelationships there?
posted by squirrel at 11:18 AM on June 11, 2003


We have met the enemy, and he is us. (pdf link) Over half of Americans own equity shares. If corporations are behaving badly, why should we blame the faceless corporatations instead of the majority of us who own them?

Corporations are mini-democracies. Shareholders may not run the day-to-day operations, but they make most substantive decisions. So what does it mean to sell your soul to corporate power when the power is right at home?
posted by mbt at 11:27 AM on June 11, 2003


As irritating as wall-to-wall (and floor-to-ceiling) advertising can be, I'd think having a sea of black dots in place of it would be worse. Ugly-ass eyesores they are.

And now that I think about it, it seems that if you avoid commercial broadcast media, your exposure to and consumption of advertising and branding will drop about 90%. There is of course the outdoor billboard, but them's pretty easy to ignore.

most people who incorporate do so to get the government to sheild individuals from responsibilities (as well as to avoid taxes)

Wrong. The (limited) protection from legal responsibility is a welcome side-effect for those forming corporations. The main reason for doing so is for the very efficient way it generates capital through investment. Remember all the dotcoms pushing relentlessly toward an IPO?

In the end, the Corporations (both the actual legal entities known as such and the culture that surrounds them) are neither better or worse than humanity as a whole. They are, in fact, us. They are nothing but an organized group of people working toward their own perceived self-interest. This can result in bad things (like Enron or Love Canal). It also regularly results in good, beneficial things (trains, electricity, imported Dutch cheese, Ipods).
posted by deadcowdan at 11:36 AM on June 11, 2003


jonmc - I would like to hear what you think should be done? I mean, nearly every revolution appears to be futile at the beginning. Does this mean we should just sit on the couch and watch TV, because there's nothing us peons can do about changing what we don't like?
posted by eas98 at 11:40 AM on June 11, 2003


Cayce Pollard would love this campaign.

Heh, Matteo. She's the first person (character?) I thought of too when I saw this.

Then again, her strange anti-brand obsession was part of the reason I couldn't be bothered to finish that book. Meh.

As for this "campaign," I think it's crap. Brands are neat, in my opinion. And I like the pretty colors of the logos. Booo for the black dot.
posted by lnicole at 11:47 AM on June 11, 2003


With everything up for sale in this country, and everything marketed and branded, I took this as a small act of resistance against the continuing advance of corporate power in this country. Can anyone think of public spaces (aside from the wildeness) where logos are absent?

I find it laughable that people actually defend billion-dollar corporations and their activities, and somehow equate them with humanity. Corporations are run by individuals with lots of money, and a deep-seated interest in continuing to make more money, however possible.

I, too, feel a surge of joy when I see instances of subverting logo-dominance through graffiti, etc.
posted by mapalm at 11:54 AM on June 11, 2003


If I pay to have an advertisement put up, you may destroy it for free? Which free market am I to support one being a solution for my company to be known or one that's solution is vandalism?
Ps, back laws to end advertisements in the public eye on public land. None of you would want one to say what you may do in your bed, yet you support the destruction of private property. Bush has helpers those that oppose him, facinating.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:01 PM on June 11, 2003


vandalism is easier than effort.
posted by kevspace at 12:03 PM on June 11, 2003


vandalism is easier than effort.
True.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:06 PM on June 11, 2003


you don't see any interrelationships there?

I don't see why this campaign needs people to agree with the listed issues in order to be a part of it. People's positions on the listed items do not have direct relevance to the goal of the campaign. Requiring agreement is counter-productive.

Somebody could be against the U.N. for representation issues, yet still want to fight unjust corporate power.

Someone else could be for the war in Iraq because they dislike brutul dictatorships, yet still be against corporate power.

Someone could be against the I.C.C for jurisdictional concerns, yet still be against corporate power.

Same with the other issues. Requiring agreement on these issues simply diminishes potential supporters. If adbusters wants to address all of the stated issues, then why do the only focus the campaign against brand names?
posted by jsonic at 12:16 PM on June 11, 2003


eas98- If I had the answer to that, I'd be thanking the Nobel academy somewhere rather than spewing my little snarks when the boss ain't looking.

The first step would probably be (where possible) avoid patronising large corporations (or at least those which are willfully damaging). Also, at least in the media sphere and in some others, taking the DIY approach and just putting up an oppsing viewpoint on your own. All my little diatribe meant is that this dot nonsense sure as hell isn't the solution and smacks more of teenybopper rebellion(not that there's really anything wrong with that, we all gotta start somewhere) and self-congratulary hipsterism than any kinda real activism.
posted by jonmc at 12:22 PM on June 11, 2003


I'd rather pay extra for branded gear from a reputable purveyor than have to do blind tastings of everything I encounter.
Brands are neat, in my opinion. And I like the pretty colors of the logos.


Ah, dream "consumers." A company really couldn't have created a more perfect line of sheep for its dip. Branded, of course.

Corporations are mini-democracies.

~guffaw~

Congratulations. That is the single stupidest assertion I've read on MetaFilter in some time.

Corporations are more similar to the old-style Soviet state than anything else. The people who actually do the work of the corporation typically have little say in how it is run, and dissent is rarely tolerated. Leaders surround themselves with sycophants and reward themselves with outlandish, obscene perks. The fruits of the labor of the many go to enrich the few.

And those dark three piece business uniforms....my....Stalin really had nothing on you folks in terms of style and individuality.

~wink~

They are nothing but an organized group of people working toward their own perceived self-interest.

So says the tired, age-old propaganda of the American Enterprise Institute et al....or was it Ayn Rand? Self-serving swill....

Do let us all know when these supposedly free corporate citizens, all working so very joyfully (corporations are really glorious workers' paradises, we tell you!) toward their own perceived self-interests get a REAL say (or was it a VOTE...one so easily forgets that Microsoft and Enron and Gulag Inc. and their ilk are "mini-democracies") on issues like corporate salaries and perks, "golden handshakes", layoffs, worker safety, working wages, insurance, political contributions, offshore labor, etc etc.

Thanks, corpraphiles, but most of us didn't believe the self-serving news releases from Soviet Tass or Pravda, either....and most of us worship at a level somewhat higher than the cult of consumerism and greed.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 12:26 PM on June 11, 2003


Following up on jsonic: I too noticed the political tie-in with the black dot campaign.

1.) dislike Bush's actions
2.) be against the war in Iraq
etc . . .

And my reaction was similar, albeit inverted. While I very much agree with these sentiments, I don't understand why I should to vandalize a Starbucks in order to demonstrate them.

I left the AdBusters bandwagon back in 2000 after attending a Green party rally for Ralph Nader. While I agreed with much of the political platform presented, the incessant demonizing of everything "corporate" grew tiresome. Had the word "communist" been used instead, the event would have been indistinguishable from a McCarthy era HUAC session.

This black dot campaign seems like more of the same.
posted by aladfar at 12:27 PM on June 11, 2003


And I, for one, welcome our new black dot overlords.

(someone had too)
posted by oninochuck at 12:42 PM on June 11, 2003


imho, anything that gets people do actually do something grass roots instead of reasoning all the reasons it will fail and all the reasons not to, and using apathy as an actual reason in itself is worth seeing spots on spots. knowing an actual human took an actual moment of time to actually do something is heartening. Probably because i have less to lose than most, i wouldn't mind if kids just grabbed hold and funneled their angst and frustration into dotting the eyes, whether for the cause or for the hell of it. i like the simplicity of it all and the whole idea, like propaganda for the purest sense of propaganda, like the mysterious initial slogans in "Eureka Street". As sick as i was of kilroy and knowing "life is elsewhere", it's a quick and easy mark to get behind, just to know people are still trying.
and a little civil disobedience never hurt... me
(of course i never got caught...)
posted by ethylene at 12:49 PM on June 11, 2003


Another way to waste your energy instead of formulating a coherent electoral strategy for 2004. Enough "anti" movements.

It's easy to whine about corporate control of society, because it absolves the opposition from formulating a policy program that a majority can get behind. Funny thing about democracy, you have to convince people instead of scorning them. The left is faithfully following the political strategy that proved so effective in the last election and the anti-war campaign.

Meanwhile, Bush has a clear message, and the funny thing is that he and his team can articulate it much more reasonably and clearly than the people who are convinced that he and everyone who votes for him is an idiot.

*sighs, plans to continue living abroad*
posted by fuzz at 12:58 PM on June 11, 2003


fold_and_mutilate, would you be so kind as to restate or rewrite your last post? All the screeching and squawking in it made it hard to understand. It seems that you don't like big corporations, but I'm not completely sure.

Thanks!
posted by deadcowdan at 1:13 PM on June 11, 2003


"Because we've forgotten the true meaning of freedom"

Yeah, right. I guess the "true" meaning of freedom is poverty.
posted by mhaw at 1:16 PM on June 11, 2003


I think Joseph Lieberman needs a super-awesome fan site.
Super... Awesome...
posted by cockeyed at 1:17 PM on June 11, 2003


So many fat little sheep. So sad.
posted by majcher at 1:23 PM on June 11, 2003


Brands are neat, in my opinion.

lnicole, you have been assimilated. brands are lies. box of whatever crap #1 = box of whatever crap #2.

what about Heart medicine? Totally unbranded. No way to differentiate one from another

swerdloff, you simmer in ignorace. heart medicine? chemical compounds, with well known properties, behaving in precisely the same manner regardless of packaging or ink color on the box.

I'll pass.

jonmc, the only thing you're going to pass, is out.
posted by quonsar at 1:25 PM on June 11, 2003


i think we should just find another perot so we have a chance to slip someone into office by splitting the republicans, since no one out there seems obvious yet. republicans vote with their wallets and everyone else votes with their conscience, and since more people have more interest in wallets, it's always hard to get non republicans to vote.
i'd just like to get my non US friends to stop asking me why...
and as much as i'd like a first lady named Haddasah, even i can't back Liebe...
Propaganda as an offense! think about it!
Let's back newty! (cringes at the actual thought)
posted by ethylene at 1:27 PM on June 11, 2003


brands are lies. box of whatever crap #1 = box of whatever crap #2.

You must have really liked Repo Man.
posted by deadcowdan at 1:32 PM on June 11, 2003


So they plan to use corporate america's power against itself by buying ads in NYT ($47,000) and on CNN & FOX ($12,500). That makes sense.
Maybe they can get soy bomb to crash TRL.
posted by sailormouth at 1:34 PM on June 11, 2003


I, for one, think it's wonderful that these high school students are learning to involve themselves in the political process. Surely our democracy will be stronger when these activists are finally old enough to vote!

Oh wait...grown men and women you say. Oh dear.
posted by stet at 1:45 PM on June 11, 2003


whether you like it or not - does it have legs?

to me, it's the most effective thing adbusters have done. it feels like the right time - connects with a lot of current ideas - and it has a simple, clear identity.

the one thing that bothers me is the timing. if this explodes, it'll be old by july 4th. it's on mefi now - it'll be in the papers within a week. that's too soon, unless they've got some way to sustain the burn.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:55 PM on June 11, 2003


So many fat little sheep. So sad.

So much unfounded condescension. So repugnant.

brands are lies. box of whatever crap #1 = box of whatever crap #2.

That's so off base it's funny. Brands do differentiate.
  • McDonald's connotes a certain quality of food. It may not be your choice, but it helps people identify a price range and an expected menu. And some people have a jones for their fries over Burger King's.
  • Pixar connotes a certain quality of craft and storytelling.
  • Buick connotes a set of automobile qualities (conservative styling, ample power)
  • Pepsi differentiates from Coke. All cola is not equal.
  • The clothes I've bought at Eddie Bauer tend to last longer than those I've bought at Target.
  • Craftsman tools tend to last longer than regular Sears brand.
  • etc., etc., etc.
The point is, we don't live in the fungible world you'd have us believe. With so many choices, brands provide a way to sort through the options based on our prior experiences. More importantly, branding is not inherently evil or good -- it just is. More importantly, why do you care if people choose to like brands (or think they're "neat")?

The irony is that I'd be willing to bet that almost all of the people who claim to be anti-branding take brands into consideration on a daily basis. (Of course that's different, they're your brands).
posted by pardonyou? at 1:59 PM on June 11, 2003


it feels like the right time - connects with a lot of current ideas - and it has a simple, clear identity.

Simple, yes. But clear? I see exactly the opposite. I'm not trying to be snarky, but could you tell me what the identity is of "the black dot"? I've read the website a couple of times, and I am totally befuddled at what the black dot is supposed to symbolize, and what, if anything, it suggests people are actually trying to do. Is it to call attention to something (if so, to what)? Is it a "call to action" (if so, what is the action)?

If I'm confused, even after having read the website and analyzed the "pledge," how clear do you think the campaign will be to Average Joe who walks down the street and sees a black dot painted on a newspaper box?
posted by pardonyou? at 2:03 PM on June 11, 2003


You must have really liked Repo Man.

is this comment something i would have had to patronize the greed-driven anti-constitution movie industry to understand? because i don't know what repo man is, but i have noted that you young sprigs tent to relate everything to something you've seen in a movie theater...
posted by quonsar at 2:05 PM on June 11, 2003


Apologies quonsar.

swerdloff - 'what about Heart medicine? Totally unbranded. No way to differentiate one from another.'

Whoa there, what's up with the straw man? Heart medicine, along with cornflakes in the example, could be identified by a number. There is no need to know who made it, if it works.

I do like logos though, personally. It is a pity that so much time, money and creativity is spent on advertising (just an example, 2 billion dollars a year!) by so many brilliant people, which serves not to culturally enrich the lives of the audience. I like sophisticated advertising as well, but the whole point of advertising in general is to make the audience feel insecure, before supplying the solution in the form of the product (which is very unlikely to actually reproduce the rapture suggested by the adertising). I am concerned about 'mind-space' being used up with the tedious minutae of the corporate attempts to decompartmentalise and brand every aspect of human life.

I watched America's Weakest Link (Kids Edition) recently, for my sins . I was astonished that probably 90% of the questions concerned cartoon characters, TV stars, pop stars, brand names, catch phrases and logos. And they still got some wrong! It was mostly scripted anyway, grumble grumble.

The problem, IMHO, with the idea that corporations are run for the good of society is simply that money is amoral. The economic system is amoral, success can be had by just about anyone who is willing to let no twinge of morality hamper their pursuit of profit. The money doesn't know if it is being used by sex-trafficers or by a charity, for instance.
There needs to be some control of the behaviour of corporations to ensure that what they are doing is for the good of society, globally. The system, as it stands, does not seem to be effectively protecting vast proportions of the worlds population from lives of indetured servitude, supporting the lifestyles of small proportions of the worlds population.

So in conclusion: logos good, advertising bad.

Consider what difference the global advertising budget would make as a charity donation. Just a thought.

This last year UK companies have had to declare the earnings of the directors in their annual reports, maybe people will be able to finally shake the torpor?
posted by asok at 2:11 PM on June 11, 2003


I think the answer is to have a three hundred percent tax on all advertising everywhere.
posted by greasepig at 2:11 PM on June 11, 2003


Take the power back

. . . and then what?


Adbusters has always been an incomplete sentence.

Adbusters, its ethos and The Black Dot are nothing more than another magical logo promising something new and better for your money, attention or time - and really not giving you any sort of answer in return.

What happens when we destroy consumerism?

"Well, people will be free and happy and . . ."

How?

"Well, people will be free and happy and . . ."

HOW????

Ad-Patyourownbackyouanticonsumerist-busters
posted by cinderful at 2:20 PM on June 11, 2003


pardonyou?, one problem with brand loyalty in the global mega corp world is that many products are the same or similar and are owned by the same corporation, but have different brand names. Like cars for example.

On preview, I for one would be happier, cinderful. Also consider what it may be like to be released from the stresses of constantly being bombarded with messages about your needs and how to satisfy them from external sources. Maybe we would find the time to examine our needs internally.

We are not talking about the end of commerce.
posted by asok at 2:26 PM on June 11, 2003


McDonald's connotes a certain quality of food.

but not because it's called mcdonalds. 'fast food' connotes the same thing.

Pixar connotes a certain quality of craft and storytelling

but not because they call it pixar. btw, pixar to me says "crappy, unbeleivable CGI novelty films."

Buick connotes a set of automobile qualities

but not because it's named after some dead auto mogul, or because said dead guy beleived any of that shit. some wank at GM once said let's target our buick division at old farts with money, but not enough money to want to buy one of our cadillacs, which we have already targeted at old farts with more money that they know what to do with and huge sucking holes where thier self esteem should be.

Pepsi differentiates from Coke.

but not because it's called pepsi. and hell, none of it is cola alone, its all concoctions of other shit with a little cola in it.

Eddie Bauer tend to last longer than those I've bought at Target.

but not because you bought them at eddie bauer. oh, and tell me please, does the 'eddie bauer model ford explorer' last longer? roll over and explode less? or what? wtf is up with that?

Craftsman tools tend to last longer than regular Sears brand.

but not because they are called craftsman. and thank you for pointing out so eloquently the fact the sears "regular" brand tools are inferior, sold to unwitting consumers who for whatever reason think that 'sears' connotes some desirable attribute in the product.

branding is a lie. period. branding is, among other things, an excuse to sell shit and call it shinola {tm}.
posted by quonsar at 2:29 PM on June 11, 2003


You must have really liked Repo Man.
is this comment something i would have had to patronize the greed-driven anti-constitution movie industry to understand? because i don't know what repo man is, but i have noted that you young sprigs tent to relate everything to something you've seen in a movie theater...

Quonsar that the best you can do on that movie. A movie produced by the man who invented MTV and sold it to them. A true simean whose mom made liquid paper and sold the rights to Papermate as a secretary. A man whose royalties also include pop songs...wow these teens now a days what's wrong with them. ;)
The movie sells itself check it out.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:30 PM on June 11, 2003


any message can be tailored to your personal needs without having to jibe with someone's whole agenda
that's pretty much what the voting for the lesser evil system we have for a government is about any more
for instance, i don't have to pledge any fraction of my soul to adbusters or the whole of anyone else's agenda
but personally i hate the snuggle bear and the energizer bunny. i hated them since their inception and the fact that i knew they would persist from egregious repetition. and now they are part of a culture some people have known all their lives.
just to kill the overplay, or make a personal statement for a personal reason such as a larger more iconic company, or simple bad aesthetic choices, the choice is your to do or not to do or complain about what other people will do or not do.
here's to the illusion, the allusion, and a willful lack of sleep.
posted by ethylene at 2:35 PM on June 11, 2003


btw, pixar to me says "crappy, unbeleivable CGI novelty films."

There you go! Branding assists you in differentiating among films. You might be less inclined to spend $8 on a future Pixar film because you know what you like and what you don't.

And branding is not just the name -- the name is necessary to identify the item. The brand is the name plus the characteristics of the product.

oh, and tell me please, does the 'eddie bauer model ford explorer' last longer?

I don't know, I've never owned one. (And I'll confess, I only put the Eddie Bauer reference in there hoping to snare someone into making some crack about Eddie Bauer, thus proving my point that brands have meaning).

quonsar, as a Grand Rapids area resident, I'm starting to wonder whether your strong anti-corporate stance stems from Amway deciding to revoke your franchise.
posted by pardonyou? at 2:40 PM on June 11, 2003


i'm not anti advertising either, because when it's done well, it's a thing unto itself, but branding is a shortcut to what people believe is a symbol of quality.
For instance, don't EVER buy Meijer brand ice cream unless you like plastic fluffed with air. now, i learned this the hard way. but if i had the time, money and energy to shop and compare everything myself, i might, but then i usually don't have to expose myself to a lot of advertising, and go far more on personal recommendations.
When i am over exposed to advertising, some part of my brain starts screaming "kill kill kill". some people can tune it out.
but any change will register, and while change is by nature disruptive, disruption is not always a bad thing. it just depends on how you use it.
posted by ethylene at 2:45 PM on June 11, 2003


wonder whether your strong anti-corporate stance stems from Amway deciding to revoke your franchise.

no, but it may be related to the endless parade of self-deluded losers over the years who have been intent on including me in their 'downline'. oh, and it's "quixtar" these days (whatever THAT connotes!) but my whole point is, shit is shit no matter what shit ya call the shit!
posted by quonsar at 2:52 PM on June 11, 2003


Boo for this idea. If you want to vandalize at least be a little more to the point about your message.

Black dots don't replace community organizing.
posted by Slimemonster at 3:00 PM on June 11, 2003


Black dots don't replace community organizing.

Unless, of course it is community organization in action. Just sayin' ...

(hint, that's kinda the point.)
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:18 PM on June 11, 2003


A brand is ANYTHING that is identifiable as pertaining to a good, service, or group. Including the colors and artwork of MeFi, the Red Cross, and Google.

Actually, Google is a master at Branding.

Oh and the black dot? It's very nature of being an easily reconizable piece of artwork (or as we say in marketing: logo) associatied with a group/service creates a brand identity.

And Corporations aren't evil. They do what it takes to survivie like any organism.
posted by Yossarian at 3:22 PM on June 11, 2003


err...I have to remember to hit spell check.
posted by Yossarian at 3:23 PM on June 11, 2003


Hey, while we're getting rid of brands, let's get rid of names too! I mean, if we just called Stalin "Dictator #1" and Pol Pot "Dictator #2" then those international mega-powers wouldn't have the same influence! And same with everyday life - what do named like "Joe Smith" and "Michael Johnson" tell us about a person. They're just symbols!

We've been assimilated by believing that McDonalds actually means anything. I know that I can go anywhere in the world and get my McNuggets just how I like them, but god forbid that convenience. McDonald's is too fucking big! They must be evil.

And corporations are always immoral too! They're run by moustachoied shadowy men bent on acquisition and more acquisition. Those businessmen have no soul!

My memory must be going bad - It was Greenpeace, and not multinational corporations, whose pressure on India caused them to tone down the near-nuclear war rhetoric last year. And it was the CEO of Adbusters, not the CEO of Microsoft, who is funding the malaria vaccine. And food and houses magically grow and build themselves - no one actually has to work to make these things! What ridiculous conversative ideas! It must a coincidence that the colleges are named after Carnegie, Stanford and Vanderbilt, because businessmen never give to charity!

The papers must have been wrong when they said that Saddam's created oil disaster in 1991 was a bigger environmental problem than Exxon Valdez. And the state-run Chernobyl can't have been more disastrous than Love Canal. And it must be true that if there were no MNC's in the third world, then wages would go up, as would safety conditions, for all the helpless Third-Worlders. I mean, it's not as if Nike would give their workers better working conditions and pay than any native Indonesian shoe company ever could.

Look, buying things that you will never use is waste. Corporations have been responsible for problems. But the benefits toward society from the grouping of workers in competition with other groupings, the benefits of standard and trustworthy brands, the benefits of an interconnected world (the famous no McDonalds nation has ever gone to war with another comes to mind) far outweigh any negatives.

Somebody buy these graphically-talented idiots some Phish tickets so I don't have to hear about their latest vandalistic and idiotic campaign.
posted by Kevs at 3:29 PM on June 11, 2003


PersonalUnbrandingResources
posted by todd at 3:31 PM on June 11, 2003


They do what it takes to survivie like any organism.

more deluded thinking. a corporation is a legal abstract which has nothing to do with any organism that ever lived.
posted by quonsar at 3:35 PM on June 11, 2003


If you don't like brands, don't buy anything except food and second hand clothes. If this seems like something a poor person would do then maybe you need to rethink your personal definition of poverty. What all do you really need? How much of your present are you willing to mortgage for your 'unnecessary things' filled future? I like to drink beer.
posted by hellinskira at 3:41 PM on June 11, 2003


Kevs: Yup.

quonsar: Ah. So a constant fight of an entity to not go out of existance, a desire to grow, and even to reproduce is not organic?
posted by Yossarian at 3:44 PM on June 11, 2003


hellenskira: it's not so much brands, its the lying and deception faciliitated by branding that are the problem. so, take your cutesie little "don't buy anything then' scenarios and shove them up your new, improved ProctoEase{tm} Byproduct Egress.

yossarian: not organic in the slightest. unless it is occurring in an organism. which a corporation is not.
posted by quonsar at 3:48 PM on June 11, 2003


a corporation is a legal abstract
agree quonsar, a partnership betwenn partners yet whom can't be pointed back at when it all goes to shit or shit on you.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:59 PM on June 11, 2003


Can someone explain to me how it is, and how it "should be"?

I'm not sure I really know.
posted by cinderful at 4:26 PM on June 11, 2003


how about the fact that humans lived on earth for hundreds of thousands of years without fucking everything up? I'm not saying that's how it should be, but...seemed to work pretty damn well.
posted by hellinskira at 4:29 PM on June 11, 2003


*quonsar regards hellinskira with a gleam of admiration in his eye*
posted by quonsar at 4:33 PM on June 11, 2003


lnicole, you have been assimilated.

Um, resistance is futile. Where should one go to avoid a brand these days? (Then again, if you really want to, it's not as impossible as they try to make it seem.) Brands can't be that terrible, especially since Die Schwartzenpunkt is a brand in itself. (I'm sure someone has brought this up by now)

I think this campaign and half of the posters here are missing the main point: Assuming that we're all informed consumers -- as we should be -- no corporation is forcing us to buy, do, or support anything. It's a person's prerogative if he wants to buy crap from Asshat Inc. for whatever reason, whether he "feels" that company's crap is in someway superior or even if he just likes the fuchsia in their logo.

Besides, most brand awareness campaigns and marketing -- even from evil ol' Mickey D. -- are way less passive-aggressive than these horrible guerrilla campaigns from Adbusters. "Turn off your TV on Wednesday or you're a horrible, mindless tool!" At least the colors in the logos are friendlier. They should take into account that people buy into what they feel, and no one wants to feel like some snobbish vigilante while brandishing a non-branded permanent marker at innocent-bystanding packaged products. Or do you?

brands are lies. box of whatever crap #1 = box of whatever crap #2.

I love how it was presumed that I am a label freak or something. Heh. But then again, that big yellow generic box from XYZ Grocery is still yet another brand. So what box of crap is behind door #3 that's suitable for my consumption?

Like someone else kinda mentioned above, you probably would have to go produce your own food and make your own clothes and crap in order to truly embrace the spirit of the Revolution. Maybe I'll go raise some sheep on a farm? Baaa.

I still gotta love how this is really all meant to sell more magazines.
posted by lnicole at 4:36 PM on June 11, 2003


So a constant fight of an entity to not go out of existance, a desire to grow, and even to reproduce is not organic?


As long as we're getting off on metaphorical tangents, that's also a reasonabe description of a horribly destructive virus.
posted by cortex at 4:58 PM on June 11, 2003


my favorite part about adbusters is the $7.95 cover price
OK, but really, are they supposed to print the magazine on secondhand toilet paper just to "be real"? are the editors and writers and art department people at least allowed to use deodorant and (for the women who are inclined to) shave their armpits? how about cutting their own hair?
this argument sounds suspiciously like a straw-man, excuse me: it's a visual magazine, it's cool to print it on glossy paper, otherwise it'll look like shit. was Godard supposed to shoot only expired, low-contrast and almost unusable Chinese-made film stock to be faithful to his radical politics? come on, you can do better than that. don't wanna buy Adbusters cause it's too expensive? Cool, go to Borders and just browse in the magazine section. There's more ideas and interesting visuals in Adbusters than in your average VanityFair/Mademoiselle/GQ celebrity-porn, product-fetish magazine.

I still gotta love how this is really all meant to sell more magazines.
Yes and No (btw, it's a magazine and I don't think that they're government-subsidized, so they're supposed to sell copies, otherwise they'll go out of business, hence, no magazine anymore). It's useful to read up on Kalle Lasn, if we're trying to understand Abusters a little better. The man is half Nader half aging hippie prankster (btw remember for example that in a brand-obsessed culture like Japan, hippies were a fashion, not an ideology -- the only successful import was the bell-bottoms and long hair and flower patterns and bare feet. i.e., style = substance, ironic isnt'it). Culture Jams can and do look silly -- it's part of their nature. But ad spoofs sometimes are really effective -- because it is a matter of fact (any reasonably frank advertising person will tell you that) that especially since the 80's there's more creativity in the marketing of a product than in its actual creation (with the possible exception of -- not always -- technology).
not all commerce is ethical, and for some customers a little ethics are as important as customer service (like, try to be a little nicer to the Third World slave-laborers and I'll promise not to care if there's a little dust on the coffee-pot and t-shirt shelves, OK?
also, not all of us are in love with sweatshops, and sweatshop-made apparel, nor with that really tasty slave-labor coffee
choice quote: "This year, he will make no profit at all. It currently costs most Guatemalan coffee farmers about $90 to produce a hundred pounds of coffee. One hundred pounds of coffee will sell for about $45.
''I've been working hard for 40 years,'' said Santiago, ''and now I owe money.''"

posted by matteo at 5:31 PM on June 11, 2003


ps it's a Boston Globe link -- probably a progressive newspaper, but they hire a great photographer like Stan Grossfeld, anyway
;)
posted by matteo at 5:38 PM on June 11, 2003


Has anyone else noticed that they want to take back America, yet they're Canadian?

Its a nice sentiment but a bit of a hypocrisy, no? Unbrand with a brand. yeah, yeah, all been said.

Is America waaaay over commercialized and commoditized? Yes.

Is smearing the landscape with a black dot going to accomplish anything? No.

So what's the point? Raising awareness of the fact that we're a heavily leveraged consumer society? Its not news.

Offer solutions and people will listen, point out the problem and no one will or should notice.
posted by fenriq at 6:36 PM on June 11, 2003


I've changed my mind. What should be done is the earth should be bombed to fucking kingdom come, then all of you fucking idiots can shut the fuck up and the world will be a much better plce.
posted by jonmc at 7:17 PM on June 11, 2003


I suggest money and mouth meeting, and those that don't like the evil mega corps buying themselves farms and making their own things.

The alternative to megacorporations is not limited to subsistence farming. This is a false dilemma.

a corporation is a legal abstract which has nothing to do with any organism that ever lived.

Sadly, they do resemble one organism.
posted by moonbiter at 7:30 PM on June 11, 2003


then all of you fucking idiots can shut the fuck up and the world will be a much better plce

My, that was a little snippy.
posted by moonbiter at 7:32 PM on June 11, 2003


"then all of you fucking idiots can shut the fuck up and the world will be a much better plce"



is that a movie quote?
posted by matteo at 7:50 PM on June 11, 2003


are they supposed to print the magazine on secondhand toilet paper just to "be real"?

Frankly, yes. Holding other people to standards (of fair pricing, environmental responsibility etc) they can't match themselves should make them choke on their own hypocracy.

I'm no lover of megacorps, stupid advertising, consumerism etc., but Adbusters just depresses me because of its reductionist, reactionary attitude. The magazine is totally defined by what it's against, but it doesn't seem to be for anything except sloganeering. It never has suggestions for improving your life that don't consist of empty posturing.

Everytime I see a copy of Adbusters, it reminds me (ironically) of a line from some DK's tune - "They can't create so they just destroy".
posted by backOfYourMind at 8:09 PM on June 11, 2003


ah, and I see fenriq has made my point more succinctly that I have. Bah.
posted by backOfYourMind at 8:15 PM on June 11, 2003


Tomorrow I need to go shopping. Amongst items on the list so far are dogfood, toilet paper, beer, envelopes, butter and pencil lead. Now, normally, I wouldn't consider sharing this exciting information with Metafilter, but after reading this thread I'm worried that I might ignorantly buy something produced by these dreadful brand thingumies. I suppose I could simply somehow produce all these things myself, or go without, but frankly, I'd rather not. So the next best thing, I thought, would be to ask those who seem to know, what should I buy and what should I not? Shopping's such a bore, and now all this to worry about, too...
posted by normy at 10:41 PM on June 11, 2003


The problem is not that one can identify different products of varying type or quality by their brands. The problem is that the brands themselves have become the products, and it is the brands themselves that are being sold.

The vast majority of people (which obviously doesn't include the enlightened individuals in attendance here) tend not to buy products based on any objective measure of cost or quality. They buy them because that's what they've been sold. I'm not denying that Craftsman tools may be of higher quality than Rusty Bob's tools, or whatever. However, plenty of money has been spent to make you believe X about product Y, not because of any particular reason, but simply because it's that particular brand. Is it true? Does it matter?


Adbusters has always been an incomplete sentence.

Yeah, that's because maybe they expect you to be intelligent enough to complete the sentence for yourself. Many "consumers", however, are not. Too bad.

And I'm fairly secure in my belief that my condescension is very well founded, thank you very much.
posted by majcher at 11:31 PM on June 11, 2003


To judge by some of the postings above, this message appears to instill serious panic in some people. Every day, every medium is saturated with brand messages. But for many of the posters above, that's not enough: there can be no dissenting message, not even one. Look at the extraordinary pain this single contrary idea causes them.

Obviously, they're very, very afraid. This is good. It means it's a step in the right direction. Blanketed by commercial media all day, you think they'd feel secure. But if one lone anticorporate message can inspire such copious pants-crapping, two would induce seizures. Three would presumably kill them outright. I say we go for it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:10 AM on June 12, 2003


This is all very strange. Yes there are a lot of naive and unresolved elements to the Adbusters campaign, particularly (from a U.K. perspective) its curious appeals to patriotism - perhaps the ultimate example of brand loyalty. But what it astonishing to me is the impressively passionate defence of the brands from the MeFi posters. Of course the argument isn't really about branding as such, but the dominance of the huge multi-national corporations who are selling you not so much a product (as in many cases the manufacturing costs are a very small element of the price) as an image. What is wrong with the power of the large corporations has filled many books and I won't attempt to go into it here.
But the weird thing is so many of you seem to like it that way.
posted by rolo at 4:23 AM on June 12, 2003


Wow. Adbusters have made a really pretty Gordian knot of themselves and metafilter is flailing around randomly with Alexander's sword. Fighting fire with fire will only increase the burning. On the other hand, today I am drinking coffee made from beans which were imported for a fair price from a small co-operative in the Honduras. It's really sublime stuff. The Starbucks brand only assures me of consistently bad tasting coffee, but at least it could save ten minutes of my time for rushing around trying to keep up with this constant consumer clusterfuck.
posted by walrus at 5:02 AM on June 12, 2003


if one lone anticorporate message can inspire such copious pants-crapping, two would induce seizures. Three would presumably kill them outright. I say we go for it.

*q tapes a picture of George Spiggott up on his wall of heroes*
posted by quonsar at 6:52 AM on June 12, 2003


oh, and it's "quixtar" these days (whatever THAT connotes!)

Hmmm. quonsar/quixtar. Now I'm really worried. Say "Hi" to Mr. DeVos for me, will ya?
posted by pardonyou? at 6:56 AM on June 12, 2003


Pfft. It's hardly Paris '68 now, is it? At least situationism had, at its core, a real joie de vive. These guys are just goths in comparison.

"Don't liberate me - I'll take care of that."
posted by GrahamVM at 7:44 AM on June 12, 2003


I want to thank all who so brilliantly commented on this polite and extremely thoughtfull thread discussion, which I will now proceed to print out and consume at my leisure.

As I loll in the bath while eating organic semi-sweet chocolates.
posted by troutfishing at 8:04 AM on June 12, 2003


Wow. Adbusters have made a really pretty Gordian knot of themselves and metafilter is flailing around randomly with Alexander's sword. Fighting fire with fire will only increase the burning
Wow, THAT is some great writing! I don't know what the hell it means, but it sounds cool (no, really, the idea of flailing around with swords and getting to play with fire always gets me excited)
posted by jmd82 at 9:24 PM on June 12, 2003


I don't know if you're taking the piss or not, so I won't qualify it with an explanation. I will admit to enjoying writing, if that helps.
posted by walrus at 3:40 AM on June 13, 2003


Obviously, they're very, very afraid. This is good.

Yes, it's always good to be very, very afraid of rampant stupidity, like this Adbusters campaign. Because if people are stupid enough to do something like that, who's to say that the next thing they do won't be even more stupid and destructive? If that's not fear-inducing, I don't know what would be.
posted by kindall at 10:01 AM on June 13, 2003


I don't know if you're taking the piss or not
Seriously, I like how you write. It cool. And, I honestly have NO idea what you meant by what you wrote (well, the part about the Alexander's sword at least)
posted by jmd82 at 12:18 PM on June 13, 2003


kindall - In a Donald Barthelme short story, unknown perpetrators inflate an enourmous balloon one night which completely obscures the sky over the city. Maybe those damn fool at Adbusters will do something stupid and destructive like that?

I agree - they could be capable of anything just like Al Qaeda!
posted by troutfishing at 3:39 PM on June 13, 2003


No, the things they're capable are of a stupidly destrictive nature, not of a desperately fanatical nature like al-Qaeda.
posted by kindall at 3:46 PM on June 13, 2003


Kindall - But are they more destructive than, say, the role of Burger King's "Whoppers" in driving what is now recognized as the #1 mortality factor in America, obesity?
posted by troutfishing at 8:28 PM on June 13, 2003


Well thanks then. History of the Gordian knot. It doesn't quite parallel, but as has been pointed out, adbusters are using branding to fight branding. At the same time, they're selling products under those brands and presumably making a living out of it. It struck me as similar to a Gordian knot, where none of the ends of string are exposed. In a heads up their own arses sort of way. The way metafilter threads often seem to be trying to bust open a concept just to drop it, reminded me of Alexanders elegant solution to the knot. The fighting fire part was my take: which is that all campaigns like this will do is to increase the amount of branding going on, not decrease it. And it seemed to carry on nicely from the previous sentence. Obviously in retrospect it all made more sense to me than to anyone else, but it was just my attempt to encapsulate how it all looked as simply as possible. Personally I think the answer to branding is to just ignore it. Shop around a bit and buy the best quality at the price you can meet. It takes a little extra time but it's usually worthwhile. Brands guarantee a certain quality, but IMO the bar is usually extremely low. I think the increase in organic foods and healthy eating shows that many other people are starting to realise this. Anyway. I may try to write less thickly here in future. It appealed at the time.
posted by walrus at 1:27 AM on June 14, 2003


I always spot the errors after I post, no matter how I proofread. The other similarity was the promise that whoever could undo the knot would be ruler of all Asia. It just seemed to collide with adbusters implication that they will save the world from corporate evil. I know it doesn't really fit as a metaphor, though I tried.
posted by walrus at 1:31 AM on June 14, 2003


I found a big black blot on my car this morning.

I think it was dropped by a bird with especially bad intestinal troubles.
posted by troutfishing at 8:04 AM on June 14, 2003


Ohhh, good stuff warlus. Thanks for replying and explaining!
posted by jmd82 at 10:27 AM on June 14, 2003


Well.. I think many of the people responding here are missing the point by taking the absolute literal meaning of this campaign and criticizing it. Seems to happen here quite a bit for some reason.

Of course the world would be horrible if it were full of grey boxes with only the "agreed upon, consensus description" of its' contents. I like graphic design - I participate in the industry, as a matter of fact. The Aesthetics of design are a wonderful form of expression. Without these bells and whistles we would be in a world not that far removed from Orwell's imagined future (after all, we'd need a 'big brother' to oversee that the lack of brands stays pure).

This campaign seems to be more focused on the overall effect of mass advertising has had on us. The billions [trillions probably] spent on gigantic billboards obscuring the landscape would surely be better spent on oh i don't know -- maybe better products? Medications, snacks, etc. that don't cause cancer or anal leakage?

The point is there's far too much advertising in the public domain - It's impossible to go out and not see ads blocking the sky. Does every subway terminal in Chicago really need to be covered with the same stupid Reese Witherspoon movie promo to let us know Legally Blond 2 is coming? Does Nike really need to cover the entire side of a 18 story building in Downtown Detroit to let us know they've got Michael Jordan as a spokesperson? Do I really need to stare at a Verizon ad as i'm urinating?

To quote a robot (V.I.N.CENT. from The Black Hole) "There are three basic types, Mr. Pizer, the wills, the won'ts, and the can'ts. The wills accomplish everything, the won'ts oppose everything, and the can'ts won't try anything."

...Pick one and move on :)

as an ending note I'm sorry I got to the conversation so late - reading this thread has been one of the best i've seen in some time... very 'polar'.
posted by phylum sinter at 3:55 AM on June 17, 2003


From the only issue I own (May/June 2002): "ADBUSTERS is printed on New Leaf Legacy 50% recycled paper made with 30% post-consumer waste, bleached elemental chlorine free."

Just to clear things up.
posted by ar0n at 9:44 AM on June 17, 2003


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