I'm addressing why data - in the absence of any intrinsic value - continues to hypnotise the market, and how we might begin to move beyond this limiting misconception towards a less wishful, more commercially viable philosophy.
I don’t only drink Coca-Cola because of how it tastes, I drink it because of the way it looks and what it says about me. It says, ‘I am a consumer of a timeless and classic brand.’ In his article ‘Living in The Material World: Marketing And Meaning’ (Market Leader Magazine June 2012) Grant McCracken pointed out that even sub-cultures or anti-pop cultures are defined by big brands. Instagram (as hip as lomography but for lazys) is full of filtered photos of Black Milk, San Pellegrino and Nike Blazer’s. Do brands define us?
First, the paparazzi take unflattering photos of celebrities and then the writers come up with the shocking stories. What we don’t seem to focus on is the FACT in the photo itself. An unedited photo is fact. The photos of celebrities in trashy weeklies are more real than the fictional airbrushed photos in high fashion magazines. Airbrushing should be accepted as an art form. We should appreciate the effort that has been put into making Kate Moss look twenty. If celebrities are our religion, Kate Moss is our God. We want our God to look good.
Type ‘Lindsay Lohan Coke’ into Google Images and there are several photos of her with white powder around her nose / looking worse for wear. These are labelled with ‘Lindsay Lohan Breakdown’ and writers create whole articles of bullshit to sell copies. We will never know what statements are true unless we are acquainted with the stars involved.
If you search for ‘Lindsay Lohan Coca-Cola’ there are also several search results.
If we look at the photo as it stands we see Lindsay Lohan holding a bottle of Coca-Cola. That is fact. But what does this say about her? Perhaps she drinks it because she sees some comfort in a brand that generations of ‘somebodys’ and ‘nobodys’ have consumed before her. The classic logo is a reflection on her; an accessory to complete an outfit.
Lindsay Lohan has been charged with driving under the influence (her mugshot was all over the press) but where are the photos of her with drugs? Although there have been years of speculation concerning her personal life, when we look at the sheer amount of images of Lindssay with Coca-Cola we know that one thing is true about her and that is her Coke ‘addiction.’ She enjoys consuming the Coca-Cola brand.
It is known to be used as an appetite suppressant. A meal in a can - a Guinness a day but a little more sinister. Lindsay Lohan is under pressure to look good; as consumers we like things that look good (Junk food for example.)
Celebrities and food and drink brands are in a co-dependent relationship. There are countless photos of celebrities munching on McDonalds. Britney Spears at the Drive Thru is a good example of a celebrity ‘keeping it real.’ There are old videos on Youtube (amongst Man Vs. Food and Epic Meal Time) of celebrities plugging fast food companies, for example Lindsay Lohan and Jell-O. Remember Britney’s deal with Pepsi vs Xtina’s with Coca-Cola in the 90s? (So trendy right now.)
Since then Fast Food has gone in and out of fashion (with the help of Supersize Me) in the same way as the Curvy vs Skinny debate. The internet generation’s consumption of the struggle between Paparazzi/Celebrities reached its peak around the Size Zero Era (when Britney shaved her head.) Images of celebrities eating Fast Food were trash gold - and still are. They have connotations with depression and emotional breakdowns. We have a similar love/hate relationship with Fast Food that we have with these celebrities
The main link between celebrities and fast food is that both are sold as a flawless package while the reality is that they are not so beautiful after all. A good example is the reality of a Big Mac. In photos it looks big and juicy but when the goofy guy at the counter hands it over it is small and pathetic. It is the same for images of Kate Moss. In the Rimmel London adverts she looks flawless but in photos of her smoking Malboro Lights or taking coke she looks like a normal thirty year old. She’s not ugly but she’s not perfect. Burgers still look good in the flesh but it is their imperfections which make them attractive - especially the fake cheese melting all over the place.
Recently a video was released by McDonald’s Canada showing the process that McDonald’s products have to go through before they are photographed. Should we care? We eat fast food because it looks good, tastes good and makes us feel good (even though it’s not as big or juicy as in the photo.) Burgers are movie stars - ‘Le Big Mac.’
Fast food is a design classic. Now Supersize Me is a distant memory, ‘Cool’ brands such as Lazy Oaf and Eastpak sell products heavily inspired by Fast Food. Lazy Oaf stock a t-shirt for a UK based burger blog called ‘Burgerac,’ burger socks, burger wallets, a french fries tote and a pizza jumper. It’s attractive, it’s appealing and its smell is the Chanel No.5 of the masses.
They tell you to be conscious of each mouthful you eat because it’s good for your health. Recently I went to a burger joint in Brighton called ‘Grubbs’ and was conscious of how attractive the branding and packaging was..