Facebook is being invaded by advertising

Everyone’s worried about, and infuriated by, the incursion of brands and advertisements into the supposedly safe spaces of our beloved social media . But I don’t think we’re in danger of being brainwashed just yet. We don’t live in The Lawnmower Man, or The Matrix, or A Clockwork Orange. We live in the gladiatorial arenas of ancient Roman times, except now people are goring each other with keyboards instead of swords. Big companies with goods to hock aren’t going to ruin our on-line experiences: we, the baying mob, are going to ruin theirs. To paraphrase The Watchmen’s Rorscharch: “I’m not in the internet with you, Coca Cola, YOU’RE IN THE INTERNET WITH ME!”

I would absolutely hate to be the guy who has to monitor a company’s social media presence, and respond to customer comments and complaints. Any time I’ve checked out the promoted page of a company brave or foolish enough to roll up its trousers and wade into Facebook’s stormy waters, its comment threads have been alive with inspired (and not-so-inspired) trolling, righteous indignation, and insane levels of rage.

A typical exchange goes something like this:


REYNOLDS’ CORNFLAKES

Image result for cornflakes

A little bowl of ever-so-slightly genetically modified sunshine every morning!

angryAngryPat: “YOUR FUCKING CORNFLAKES KILLED MY FATHER!”

tick,octagon,frame,check on,checked,correct,right,yes,checkmark,okReynoldsCornFlakes: “Hi Pat! Thank you so much for your comment, and I hope you’re having an absolutely super day. Brrrr! It’s a bit cold outside, isn’t it? So sorry to hear about your father, but I can assure you that our products are only made from good, wholesome ingredients, and all of our manufacturing is overseen by beautiful unicorns in magical palaces built at the ends of rainbows. If anything, our cornflakes should have added a good five years to your father’s life. Was he a drinker, Pat?


Or


CHIKE MAX-PERFORMANCE TRAINERS

Image result for generic sneakers

If you’re looking for a decent shoe, jog on.

peaceHippyGenoveve: “How many little Taiwanese children had to be whipped to death on a yearly wage of sixty pence to perfect your new range of death boots, you fucking Nazis?”

tick,octagon,frame,check on,checked,correct,right,yes,checkmark,okChikeTrainers: “Hi Genoveve. Amazing to hear from you! My late mother was called Genoveve. Beautiful woman. Let me just assure you that we only subcontract to companies who subcontract to companies who subcontract to companies who subcontract to companies who subcontract to companies who we’ve heard on the grapevine are absolutely reliable. And if that isn’t enough to reassure you, then please remember that our partners use only the best, free-range Taiwanese children.


Or


LEPSY NAX

Image result for fizzy drink

Fucks your heart, makes you fart…

evilCarcinogenicGraham: “What do you cunts enjoy the most, giving people stomach cancer or diverting water supplies from the poor indigenous peoples of the Indian sub-continent?”

tick,octagon,frame,check on,checked,correct,right,yes,checkmark,okLepsyNax: “Graham, I know this is crazy, because we’ve only just met, but how would you feel about our familes all going on holiday together later this year? Thank you for your passionate comment. Reading between the lines, I think what you’re really asking is: ‘How do we get the taste of our mouth-watering cola product just right? Is it some sort of magic?’


There’s something deliciously democratic about all of these conglomerates finding themselves at the mercy of angry (in most cases justifiably angry) proles like you and me. Their on-line pages are slowly transforming into long lists of bad-for-business buzz words; endless cries of CANCER! DEAD KIDS! EXPLODING EYES! YOUR COCOA MADE MY ASS BLEED!

Marvellous.

I used made-up generic brands for the jokey examples in this article, rather than risk using real company/brand names like Kellogs Cornflakes, Nike or Pepsi Max, which would’ve been foolhardy at best.

OTHER ARTICLES ON THE SITE RELATED TO ADVERTISING –

Culture Jamming Pt 1

Culture Jamming Pt 2

Why Advertising is So Full of Shit

Santa’s Journal (Entry 8) – May 24 2013

I spent the morning trying to get through to Coca Cola. Kept getting their switchboard.

‘This is Frank McGarry calling,’ I said in my sternest, boomiest voice. ‘I need to speak with management.’

I always use my real name when I’m angry with them. They know I mean business when I cast off my Santa branding and let my Glasgow show. It didn’t work though. The receptionist told me that the big boss was in meetings all day. I asked for the man under him. Surprise: he’s in meetings too. And the man under him. I think I went through the entire list of staff, top to bottom, trying to find someone to take my call. It turns out that even the guy in the fucking mail room is in meetings today.

Next I called the management at Dwerg Neuken. They’d speak to me, alright, but I’d’ve been better talking to a brick wall. Christ, I’d’ve been better talking to Margaret. I got through to their CEO, some whiny-voiced arsehole by the name of Jorg Griswald, and told him in no uncertain terms that what he was doing to the elves was immoral and deplorable. That the elves were a loyal, decent and hardworking lot who didn’t deserve to have their meagre pay slashed even more. And, besides, if anybody is going to make their lives an unending misery, it should be me!

‘I am full of large apologies today, Mr madam,’ he said, his reedy Norwegian accent going up and down like an asthmatic mouse on a pogo-stick, ‘but what does our business with the little people of the snow have to do to you?’

‘What does it have to do with me?? I’m Santa Claus, motherfucker!!!’

From what I was able to piece together from his terrible command of English, Jorg will answer only to his masters at Coca Cola. I was a mere puppet, a mascot, a breathing piece of branding, scarcely a human being. His exact words were: ‘Sooner I would be taking orders from Mickey Mouse, yes?’

Which is why I’m posting him a big bag of reindeer shite. First class.

 

Culture Jamming Gallery – Pt1

Culture Jamming emerged as a response to the dominance of brand advertising on our streets and in our culture. It’s basically a form of politically-motivated vandalism, through which the often false sentiments and claims promoted by ads and logos can be manipulated to reveal the horrible truths that lurk beneath.

The most popular targets of this sweeping movement are those large, ruthless, multi-million-and-billion pound corporations that permit sweatshops to operate in their name; that put children to work making gaudy trainers and stitching logos on T-shirts for 20 hours a day for a pound a week; that ignore human misery, hardship and death so long as their cash registers sing and their shareholders can buy second homes; that despoil and pollute the environment; that support fatally-corrupt regimes and brutal dictators; that silence, threaten and sue those who attempt to expose their callousness; that lie, cheat, swindle and pillage their way to the top of the FTSE in the name of liberal capitalism and expect us to be grateful for their efforts: and that will attempt to obscure their evils with an innocent shrug, a reassuring smile, a slick slogan or two and a dazzlingly colourful ad campaign.

And sometimes, just sometimes, it’s simply funny vandalism. Here’s a selection of some of my favourites:

 

 

 

 

 

Why Advertising is so Full of Shit

'I'm chokin' it.'

Advertising: the art of taking something ordinary and building a mythology around it : the art of masking the brutality and nonsense behind the money.

Adverts. I wish they’d all just front up. Show us the whipped and weeping Chinese kids crying bitter tears over an assembly line of Barbie dolls. Show us an alcoholic drink-driving past a school with a bottle of Budweiser in his hand, swerving to avoid a mass of talking frogs and crashing into the school bus. Show us Ronald McDonald rabbit-punching an injured abattoir worker in the kidneys. It makes my head spin.

But it all makes me laugh, too. While shopping in Spar I came across something that made me guffaw uncontrollably. It was a slogan on the front of a Super Value Pack of KittenSoft toilet roll: ‘Irresistibly soft,’ it said.

'Itty Bitty Shitty Kitty.'

Has anyone ever found their toilet paper to be irresistible? ‘So Soft, You’ll Wipe After Every Fart,’ it seems to entreat. If we follow this line, it won’t be long before daddy is blowing his wage packet on luxury toilet roll items instead of heroin. Psssst. Want some Andrex, mate?

Ah, yes, Andrex: the crap-paper manufacturer that chose the puppy as its brand mascot. Puppies FIND the paper deliciously soft; the product is not AS soft AS puppies, a trap into which KittenSoft appears to have fallen. The implication from their packaging seems to be that using their product will have the equivalent feel to picking up Tiddles and sliding him between your arse cheeks like some kind of miaowing credit card. In fact, the little kitten on the packaging wears an expression somewhere between terror and hope, praying that today will be the last day he gets used as a BogMog.

Or a ShitKat, if you’d prefer.

'Go on, motherfucker, I dare ya.'

It makes me wonder whether the scientific wing of KittenSoft experimented with different creatures before settling on the kitten. Could we have had Total-Chinchilla-Comfort? HamsterWipe? Never mind if animals were harmed during the process: were any scientists harmed? ‘Can we just say a few words of remembrance for brave Ronald before we have a little re-think on HedgehogHeaven?’

And what criteria were used? Did they have a little check-list, sub-divided into animal groups and species, measuring things like fluffiness, absorbability, prickliness, and likelihood-of-biting-back-iness? And call me far too liberal-minded and PC for my own good, but things seem to be disgustingly mammal-centric over at toilet paper HQ. Kittens, puppies, tribbles. For once I’d like to see: ‘New SharkWipe – Something to Get Your Jaws around’; or ‘PythonWipe – For When You’ve Snaked One Out’. And why not give the amphibians and reptiles a chance to shine: ‘FrogComfort – So Tough You Won’t Ribbit?’ ‘Chod-in-the-Hole’?

I’m not even going to broach the subject, ladies and gentlemen, of Gerbil Lil-Ets.

New Stella-flavoured Deodorant a steaming success.

Ah, I really should have gone into advertising. A final word on deodorants. It seems that not smelling like filth isn’t good enough for us anymore. We have to stare at rows of peculiarly labelled scents ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. On the shelves in Asda the other night (yes, I really do spend my free time skipping from shop to shop, frantically scanning the aisles for amusingly-named commercial products to brighten up my suicidally depressing existence) were deodorants called Java, Surge, Cool and Miami.

Java? Who the fuck wants to smell like a computer programming language? And what in Christ’s name does it smell of? I’ve seen computer programmers, and they don’t look like the kind of guys you’d want to be within sniffing distance of. As for Surge… I’m sure the smell of the surge rather depends on the kind of surge you’re talking about. Whatever the explanation, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to walk into work smelling of it.

A snapshot from Falkirk's premier nightspot.

And Miami? Hello? Did they huddle seven thousand Floridians into a warehouse, spraying chemicals at them from a giant shower-head until they all agreed on what Miami smelled like? ‘I couldn’t smell enough sunshine in that blast!’ ‘Give us a whiff of Mickey Mouse!’ ‘That one smelled far too much like Detroit!’

Where will it end? Scents called ‘One-Legged Welsh Gay’; ‘Recently Mouth-Raped Kangaroo‘? ‘Dead Peruvian’?

Next week, look out for the launch of my new toilet paper: ‘ARSEWIPE – You Can Clean the Shit From Your Arsehole With It’.