wade tillett on Thu, 21 Jun 2001 20:23:42 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> The Logos Fight Back

>From: geert lovink <geert@xs4all.nl>
>To: <nettime-l@bbs.thing.net>
>Sent: Wednesday, June 20, 2001 5:05 PM
>Subject: <nettime> The Logos Fight Back
> 180018&newDisplayURN=200106180018>
> by James Harkin
> Monday 18th June 2001

> The most promising way for companies to adapt is to reinvent
themselves as
> ethical brands - concerned spokespersons within civil society,
rather than
> companies that exist simply to maximise profit. Faced with setbacks
in its
> European operation and the perception of "cultural imperialism" in
> brand identity, Coca-Cola has already decided to reinvent itself as
> corporate citizen. Last year, its chief executive, Douglas Daft,
told the
> Financial Times that Coke's new pitch will be to "lead as model

In other words, the 'second bottom line' has (at least) the following

1. To legitimize and extend self-regulation through a perceived
'market-controlled' morality.
Morality is always the camouflage of exploitation. Do we really want
companies pitching morals? Does this not sound like a corporate
manifest destiny? 'We must conquer them to save them from themselves.'

2. To create more subtle and direct forms of PR.
What percentage of news stories and videos are the direct result of
corporate 'news' releases? By crossing the 'line' of product and
politic, the line between advertising and news is also crossed. This
is nothing new of course, just a further implementation. When Coke
changed their formula, the whole media got in on the spin. Everyone
talked about it. It was a genius PR move... Take away the product and
the gap will fill with media about the product.

3. To discredit, not silence, opposition.
A certain amount of opposition is necessary to create the discourse
after all. So that news magazines/programs can run 'features' on
Monsanto and present 'both sides of the story' wherby the villager
comes on and says how great it is that he is being exploited by said
seed company, and the 'seattle - wto' protester types are really just
(implied to be) uninformed. The death throes of Coca-Cola and Monsanto
will not be massive protests and news features, whereby the companies
eventually just have to spend so much investing in the community that
they won't be able to make a profit. No, it will not result from
media-spin and anti-ads. It can only result from an abandonment of the
product and the privileged position that product offers relative to
it.... be it 'anti-'advertiser or consumer. Only then can one escape
the discourse of 'anti' which places the product (and, not
accidentally, the 'anti'-product) at the focus.

>...As politics has become the stuff of
> focus groups, PR spin and endless rebranding of institutions (such
> schools), personalities and parties, marketing itself takes on the
> techniques and values of politics. Traditional modes of solidarity,
> trade unions, churches and political parties, are in steep decline.
> people search for new forms of politics and new sources of belief.
At the
> same time, the modern corporation, uncertain about the future
direction of
> its business and determined to hold on to its consumers, is finding
> ethical branding is an ideal strategy with which to promote customer
> loyalty. In the hands of the brand managers, a political vacuum
becomes a
> gap in the market.

After all, what is best is if you can buy your M&M's and feel good
about it too. Instead of just giving to a cause directly, the giving
is associated with a product, and a certain percentage is given to
help a cause. What is even further down this line of thought is that

AIDS Rides and cancer walks and what not allow the consumer to aquire
not only an experience of the ride/walk, of much more importance than
that is the public cloak of morality. The image/position of self which
is offered by the product IS the product.
(See http://www.pallottateamworks.com 'Pallotta TeamWorks is
headquartered in Los Angeles, is a California for-profit corporation,
and has over 250 full-time employees in 15 offices around the United

> What this suggests is that the war against brands has already been
> that the brand activists have been kicking against an open door....

And why is this door already open?
(And the media industry and the finance industry and the product
industy and the culture and social industry all smirk, 'Whatever you
do, don't throw me in the briar patch...')

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