Burger King

13 10 2005

3.49

Im sitting in
burger king at the moment. Its cold and wet outside. I just thought I
should write about the experience in here and the new marketing
campaign launched by them. Ive written a few blogs from exotic
locations about exotic stuff and I feel like writing about something
more mundane for a change.

 

I’m looking at my Large coke – probably about the most generic drink u can buy. On the side of the cup it says:

 

This cup makes a statement about you. It says "Hey, look at me, I’m an ambitious and decisive person." You  could
have gone larger, butyou didn’t. You could have gone smaller, but you
decided against it. No you know exactly what you u want in life, and
that you should always have it your way".

 

And no this is not a self deprecating marketing campaign – they’re  serious.
It would be hilarious pathetic – except that it actually works. I could write a book just
about this cup. It is a great example of some of the problems Im
starting to see around me.

 

 I
believe in the past people defined their identity largely though what
they did ie. U were a blue collar or white collar worker and more than
that you were a accountant or a plumber etc… Now people are defining
themselves through what they consume. I never did marketing but I think
it works something like this. Because marketing companies are trying to
imbue their products with qualities they don’t really have. This is
what Burger King is trying to do. A pair of Christina Dior sunnies is
not intrinsically any ‘sexier’ than a pair of no name ones – it’s the
millions of dollars in advertising which makes people associate sexy
with Christina Dior. People want to be these things (sexy, cool etc
)and they do this by buying products so that hopefully the brand name
will be associated with them by others. This is a two way process and
in doing so they associate themselves with this brand.

 

 Giving
australian examples I’m familiar with – many guys will define
themselves as either a ‘ford guy’ or a ‘holden guy’ they will drink
either carlton or VB, they may express a penchant for certain brands
over others such as nike over adidas, etc. The rub is these items are
very very similar, so companies are trying desperately to differentiate
their product – yet this is how people are defining themselves, through
the clothes they wear the car they drive the area they live.

This is commonly
what it means to be cool now days. To wear the right brands – perhaps
the ones which are just a little obscure so only other people who study
the same consumer cool will know. So you can smirk on the inside at
people who only kind of understand these unwritten rules of associating
yourself with brands and whos attempts are just a bit too obvious. It’s
a subtle line, how peopleassociate themselves with products and brands.
Its also a fine line with how marketers imbue theirproduct with
coolness or sexiness. Burger king have overstepped the mark here but it
provides a concrete example of what is going on in marketing.

 

So people, who want to be ‘bold and ambitious’  or
cool collect a compendium of brands about them which they think say
this. This plays a very large part of their identity. So ingrained is
this that certain brands are associated with different ‘identities’ eg.
Adidas and kappa for Australian Italians (no they don’t wear it that
much in
italy
folks!), or billabong and quicksilver for ‘aussies/surfies’. These
brands make up peoples identities. Just before I was walking down the
escalators and saw a girl who had a tattoo across her lower back
fashionably showing above her low cut brand name jeans – it read
"Tiffany and Co".

 

One of many
problems with this is that their is often only a trivial difference
between these items. The difference is a mere fabrication of spin by
marketers desperately striving for differentiation of the same
products. Because guess what!? A tracksuit is still a tracksuit whether
its adidas, or nike or Kmart. So trivial differences become the sales
point hence we are bombarded with a vast array of the same product with
trivial differences – such as toothpaste with baking soda, or whitening
formula, or power mint burst etc.. So that u will buy 1 particular type
of toothpaste rather than the 20 near identical other ones available.

 

 

Sadly this also becomes peoples meaning in life. To get better brands of the same thing. So that instead of driving a toyota
they can drive a bmw or a ferrari. What’s the difference between a rich
person and a normal person today? Instead of a ford or holden they
drive a mercedes or bmw, instead of a normal tv they have a widescreen
plasma tv, instead of having a house in bayswater or glen waverly they
have a house in toorak. These things are still the same – they perform
the same function with very similar resuts. Its just the status which
other people attach to them which is supposed to justify the often
ridiculous difference in price.  Ie.Its the same crap with a different (more expensive) smell.   I’ve met a number of sales people who have pictures of a Ferrari  or
porsche as their motivation to go out their and ‘make those sales!’ .
I find this ironicly tragic. Ironic
because theyre perpetuating the system they’re trapped in. And tragic
because rather than dedicate their life to helping people – they
dedicate it to changing the type of badge on the car they drive.

 

Also in the end
all people who identify this way are merely conforming to the consumer
society in which they live. People defining themselves through brands
or fashion statements – doing the same things as the marketing
companies do – desperately trying to differentiate themselves on the
surface because underneath this superficial veneer -they are all the
same.

The end result
is that under the material veneer a homogeneity permeates our culture,
marked by rampant consumerism and vacuous personalities. And it doesn’t
just mark Australian culture it’s the same the world over. The
insidious  consumer culture has made its mark through all the countries I’ve traveled. 

 

The key thing
the current system and advertisers keep promoting is power through
choice " Have it your way" say posters all around this burger king. Its
like Henry ford once said – “you can have your T-model ford in any
colour you like- as long as its black”. The creed of today is ‘you can
choose what ever you like – as long as its from western consumer
culture’.

 

Be bold and ambitious!  choose a large coke instead of a regular or bolder still –  choose a pepsi!! Hang on –you want to define yourself through something other than what you consume? Sorry that’s uncool and ur not going to have any friends and your going to fail in life now + noone is going to want to sleep with you

 

By the way I  realise
how ‘uncool’ it is to even be thinking this way – let alone writing
about it or worse yet publishing it on the internet! Its a sad state of
events when its uncool to critically think about things such as the
society we live in or the meaning of ones life! “Pssst Tom-didn’t u get
the memo? Were just supposed to go through life pretending that its one
long and happy ride of good times and instant pleasures.  Your supposed to focus on improving the compendium of brands you surround yourself with. Now don’t question it,  don’t think about it,  "Just do it" stupid!

 





Living in London!

3 10 2005
Ok! well after a long hard think ive decided to do as every other Aussie/Kiwi/Saffa has done and live it up in london! It was hard to decide between london and manchester but because there are so many other people that have done it and are doing it there are services,  websites to find a flatshare to organisations to help get set up with bank accounts. Things which make  london easier to get set up in.Also its easy to meet people because theres heaps of people going through the same thing as i will be, and london seems to be a right of passage before moving elsewhere.I naturally favor going against the trend, but too many good reasons to start up in london – not least of which is how cool the city is! I havent been here long but its a cool happening city with a large expat crowd who know how to have fun.
 Also its so nice to be in an english speaking country again. I can understand the services announcements at train stations, ask people for directions, ask questions about products when buying them, know what people are laughing at (and know whteher that thing is me) and a whole lot of other little luxuries that one takes for granted before traveling. Like being able to understand the signs and even the advertising is a pleasant relief and after 3 months of not being able to – im now reading every billboard i pass.
Anyway i have had a few hilarious hotel stories which would take far too long to write – but im now in a fairly decent one – with toilets that work, no bed bugs, and no crazy looking massive african men in my room that talk and laugh to themselves. Im now staying in a hostel until i can find something more permanent. There is a very long list of things that have to be done before i can even begin looking for a place to live, and its strange how hard it is to certain things which are relatively simple in australia. Like getting a bank account – ud think theyd be clamouring for my business. No way it takes alot of people who come here weeks or even MONTHS of concerted effort to open an account. And thats only the first thing on the list! The people in my hostel have been there for between 2 months and 6 months!
I dont think ill be there that long though (at least i hope not), but might be there a little while from talking to those guys. The holiday/travel part of my journey has come to an end. Now its time to settle down for a while. Firstly i need a job because London is ridiculously EXPENSIVE. Everything looks like it costs the same – until you realise its in brittish pounds not aussie dollars – so multiply the cost of everything by 2 and a half!!! So i need a job that pays in pounds pronto. Tomorrow the hunt begins!