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!

 

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3 responses

14 10 2005
Scott

u know, people now days frown upon instant gratification, like, for example, if u get paid and go out and spend a majority of ur cash on enjoying urself, u are thought of as frivalous. But to save up for 10-20 years and bank all ur money into a ferrari is considered to be something to approve of! the way i see it, why spend all the money you have earned at work, just to get to work faster and in more comfort. Ur still spending ur day at work, just like what u would if u were to take ur wife on a lovely holiday, or to give ur family lovely christmas presents.You know, they have the same stuff on the cups in america man, i think it is amusing, and a slap stick way of poking fun at pop culture, just like u did! Not to be taken too literally duder. I must admit, on top of all that u said, i agree with the need for being fashionable, because, as u and i both know, neither u nor i is consumed with fashion, sure we like to look respectable, but to be honest, that is the best either of uis could hope for, repsectable! hahaha! but, fashion is expensive, cause it always changes, and this is essentially what keeps the economy functioning! If what is fashionable now, was fashionable for the next 30 years, how many companies would go out of business!! and then , we would be in a deperession! and it is called a depression cause no one can afford the large, it was the small, cause it defined u as poor! hhha~!but, i totally agree with what ur saying! people define themselves, not by who they r, but by what they r, and if ur in a certain dress cloth it defines u. No other country displays that quite like here man! It is REDICULOUS!But, what they dont know, is no matter how much nike or Ck they wear, I AM STILL BETTER THAN THEM!!! muahahahahaapeace!

14 10 2005
Bonnie

What a wonderful and insightful blog… exceeding expectations as usual… good to see!!Thanks for your comments,and for linking my blog on yours.. You\’re right that no matter what you do (what "groove" you fit into) there will always be a mass marketing advertising campaign directed at the consumers in that exact groove..the unassuming and innocent inhabitants of said groove… Glad to hear you\’re reading No Logo, from what I\’ve read of yours, it\’s right up your alley, and it\’s pretty life changing stuff… …As well as another I read not long ago (corresponding nicely to your blogs\’ theme of consumer culture using the analogy of fast food) is \’Fast Food Nation\’ by Michael Schlosser. It\’s the fast food version of No Logo basically, but also focusing on the ever increasing-homogenised-pasteurised-processed-artificially-coloured-and-flavoured-world-of-food… You\’ll NEVER look at fast food the same way again…Anyway, I love this entry you\’ve done… It reminds me of an ad campaign for Coke recently (the mother of all evil… apparently the MOST recognised word in the world now, and mass marketed and distributed in 217 countries…) this ad campaign was aimed at indie rock fans… titled "Music, as it should be"… eg "Televsions should take their rightful place at the bottom of hotel swimming pools, your ears should be still ringing the next day.." etc etc. (Slightly ironic given that this was advertised ON TV!) Thus trying to rub some of the "cool" associated with live music, onto their product… I have an avid interest in live music, and this ad hit pretty close to home… I resent that. Another thing I read (in No Logo maybe) something about human branding, and that one of the most popular tatoos to have in America is the Nike "swoosh" …there are so many things that spring to mind about how wrong this is, there are no words!I also have a particular interest in Japan, and it\’s one of the saddest things to be in Tokyo and see the Americanisation of the entire Japanese culture. You\’re not worth knowing in Japan now unless you own a Louis Vuitton bag… (because that, and only that DEFINES you as a person!!)But, as Naomi Klein said.."Genuine political empowerment cannot be reconciled with a belief system that regards the public as a bunch of ad-fed cattle, held captive under consumer culture\’s hypnotic spell.. What\’s the point of trying to knock down the fence? Everyone knows the branded cows will just sit there looking dumb and chewing cud"…Thank you for your amazing insight… It is truly a gift.Take careBonnie*

18 10 2005
Scott

Alright, that is it! Seeing pics of london man, i remember when we went there, that was my favourite part of europe, and, if teh mother fucker wasnt so expensive i would have gone their again! But i want to return after my course now, those pics of B-palace, and hyde park man, i am down with some funky pommy shit!how is the job search going?? And what happens with this probing that u will be getting in this experiment??

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