These mind-maps of the two articles on advertising break down the encompassing arguments within my particular selected content. Naomi Klein's claim against brands concerns the "inner-truth" of companies and the consumer's buying-in of a better life. She breaks down the schemes behind the branding process and how, in this process, they ultimately are "divorced from their products". On the other hand (sort of) we have the editors of the publication Economist arguing our need for brands. They set up, in this article, an either/or structure; It's either "people are pawns in the hands of giant companies", or "brands bring something that people think is better than what they had before." In my opinion this 'something' they mention in the latter argument is much too ambiguous to set-up a decent opposition to the "pawn theory". If by 'something' they mean 'products', then this makes sense. But if what they mean to say is 'lifestyle', 'hope', 'truth' or others like this, then their opposition structure is null and void.
So, which is it?
- "People are pawns or brands promise better products." (opposition)
- "People are pawns and brands promise a better life." (case in point)
I have some issues particularly with the Economist article. Firstly, they claim that the brand-less world will "given a chance, flee this Eden." I will agree, but not under their context of a better product. Third world countries love American brands not for quality, but for the status these brands bring. Later, it seems that Naomi and these editors might possibly get along: "Companies exploit people's emotional needs, as well as their desires to consume," "A vapid notion that spending more can bring happiness. Fair enough." This seems contradictory for a "for brands" case, in a sense.
The bottom line with the Economist is: branding makes for better, more reliable products (which in return produces customer loyalty, and the good kind of competition amongst companies). And ultimately Naomi is pissed that brands are selling us ideas that have nothing to do with the actual products we are buying (almost saying "stick to what you know, buddy"). I agree with both parties mostly.
I chose these two particular bodies of work from shear bias (having 3 options to choose from). I'm not very knowledgeable or comfortable with my opinions on Modernism vs. Rational Functionalism. And as a student, you'd think I'd have a strong opinion on education and how design should be taught, but I'm the first to admit that I don't know much about anything, so again I'm not comfortable choosing a side (I see too much good in everybody!). Rather, when it comes to being a consumer and branding lifestyles I've clocked in enough hours in commercial watching to talk for hours about these concerns. And I think, as a designer it is important to see past these schemes and understand them to their fullest, so we can exploit them in the future (you can't break rules you don't understand yet). Learning from the past we can roll with the punches, for instance...
The Sprite "Sublyminal" commercials come to mind (love the end when the corporate dude snaps his fingers at us, like uppity patrons at a fancy restaurant). They've created a pretty cool we-know-you're-smarter-than-advertising advertisement. This is an interesting follow-up choice to their previous "OBEY " campaign where you should "trust your gut, not some actor". "OBEY" yourself, is just too campy for an over-exposed audience like us. The "Sublyminal" campaign turns the negativity of branding around completely and makes the "reverse-marketing thing" so blatant that they capitalize on it. The irony is too much to handle; A soda commercial about the coolness of knowing you're being sold a soda (!!!). Makes your head spin. I guess being honest is now the new way to lie?