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Thursday, 30 August 2012

The Brand



 I gave my 1981 Rolling Stones T Shirt to my daughter, a wise thing to do – not because I am wise – but because it was blindingly right. Wander any street in Britain, and no doubt the United States, and you see the same thing: fat, middle-aged men in iconic T shirts advertising their youth - The Beatles, The Stones, Iron Maiden, Bowie, Lynyrd Skyrnyd, Black Sabbath, Led Zep. The list is endless and so are the idiots. I’m not saying middle-aged men should don cardigan and slippers. I wouldn’t wish that on an octogenarian, but equally why wear a tombstone to youth? Rock and Roll is a state of mind, not a T shirt. 

It’s part of a process, insidious, ubiquitous – expressing individuality through the corporative brand. Joining a herd. There is honesty in branding a cow, brutal though it is for the cow. Man is master of creation so we brand what is ours.

We brand what is ours.

 What does that tell you about those who willingly advertise Budweiser and Coors, Pepsi, Coke, Jack Daniels; those who market the various tourist board T shirts or ageing rock bands? Do we give a stuff that someone’s been to the Grand Canyon or Oxford? Are we going to have a meaningful conversation on the particular logo advertised? At least the old fashioned Sandwich-Board man got paid for his trouble, and returned the Board when his shift was done.

At least, too, you can give the T shirt away. The Stones may be corporative buccaneers but their music stands and a piece of antique ephemera should be worn by the young – until they, too, decide to give it away.
But what about Tattoos? Do I really want graffiti on my body – even a Banksie? And what about those weird people, who have the blue, esoteric squiggle just below their neck, that others can see but they can’t?
When I see tattoos, I think of steers newly branded, numbered people, the categorised, prisoners. 

And then there is Face Book, the ultimate Sorting Hat. Here we strut, preen and display, assuming falsely that we are in control – we display what we want to display - unaware of how in doing so we self-categorise ourselves for hidden algorithms and predatory marketers.  

The world will not end in a whimper. It will end in  one prolonged Moo.

10 comments:

Angela Brown said...

If not a Moo (fitting with the branding), it may be a Baaaaa....that goes on and on and on.

Mike Keyton said...

A baaaad way to go - even if you're in the mood. Did I just say that? Mad cow disease strikes!

Maria Zannini said...

Isn't it interesting that even without social media, society looks for ways to fit in? It can be tattoos, or cars, or the gin you drink.

But I'd like to think most of us only show little slices of ourselves. The only people who really know us are few and far between. --thank goodness.

LD Masterson said...

No argument on the branding but I have a slightly different take on the t-shirts. I like them for the memories attached. The concert, the show, the event, the place. When I pick up that shirt, for a fleeting moment it takes me back. And those moments are worth the "branding".

Mike Keyton said...

Maria, you are right. Twenty-first century and all that but we are still tribal creatures, and when we are ultimately absorbed by some super AI we will still find ways to be tribal - or the AI will accommodate us : )

Mike Keyton said...

LD I take your point, though having said that you could also say you are advertising your memories to other people since once the t-shirt's on, you are not actually seeing those memories yourself. Mind you, it's not worth an argument. Very few things are : )

Jay Paoloni said...

I believe we're lucky a lot of people do them, "categorizing" themselves, like you call it, through tattoos, t-shirts, and stuff. It's easier to read who's standing in front of you that way. At least, you have a few clues to hang on to when you try to figure the person out. And I won't buy the crap that appearance should not be a variable in trying to figure people out: if someone wears specific types of clothes, tattoos, punk hairstyles, and so on, they're definitely trying to say something. And that's where I start my analysis from.

Mike Keyton said...

Interesting point, Jay. It is part of the so called 'blink-factor' ie the instant gut reaction.

Mike Staton said...

Old t-shirt of past vacations or band concerts or space shuttle launches in my case -- are tattered and even if they weren't, they'd no longer fit this middle-aged body. In regard to social networking, at least we don't have brain plug-ins -- yet.

Mike Keyton said...

A WIP I've just started involves plug-ins, wild virus's and all manner of things. But no T Shirts : )

Thanks for calling in, Mike.