Branded

A ride dominated by thoughts about branding.

Heading out towards the territory south of Reading, on a street in Woodley I saw a statuesque lady wearing a t-shirt that proclaimed in gothic script, ‘I am what I am’.

That’s fair enough – my first thought was that I’ve no quibble with that, good for her. But then I found myself pondering whether the t-shirt was a one-off or at least a small-run or print-on-demand design, or whether it was a piece of merchandise, some kind of spin-off from some major brand or franchise or something that I’m unaware of.

During a TV documentary the other day about Bowie one of the talking-heads said they wouldn’t insult Bowie by calling him a brand … and that’s right: it is an insult. It is very hard to think of anything positive, on a sustainable, human scale, about any of the corporations.

The very, very clever thing is that if write a few lines here denouncing corporate culture and all the attendant ills that have come trailing in its wake, many people would find that all trite and banal and thus easily dismissed. That’s very clever; clever has no direct correlation wth correctness. That the corporates have achieved that almost unassailable position is one of the most negative things about them.

As it is, I don’t know whether that lady in Woodley is just another branded human billboard paying for the privilege of carrying someone else’s advert around for them or not; is she what she is, or is she what she’s bought and sold. For that matter, I don’t know whether she’d give a damn anyway.

(And no, I’m not above wearing or using branded products either – I know my own weaknesses and failings. Just because I’m a mug too doesn’t make it all better.)