In a recent blog post "Being Simply Free" I talked about having and being self - owned. From our culture in Canada and perhaps the US, it would seem as if of course, we are free, but what I see is that our minds have been purchased, subtly, in such a way that we do not see the world we now live in.
I remember once when I was living in a rural area for a few months and afterwards returning to Calgary, AB. There was a distinct shock I felt when in the 7th Avenue Mall downtown. Every shop window was plastered with pictures demonstrating styles, products, ideas, glamour - and what I experienced, what it felt like, was that I was being told what to do, how to be, what to wear. It was not a suggestion. Each shop had large windows and maybe because of that all the models in the pictures were oversized and looked down at me. There was not much at eye level. This mall, at that time, was all about a slick control. I had not been aware of this before living in a rural area. I have never forgotten what I saw.
We are all so bombarded by advertising from 1000 sources that we have become numbed and filter out much of what we see, at least consciously. I used to think of the mall as somewhat sophisticated and I used to like having a beautiful lunch at one of the bistros with small cafe style tables in front of glass windows looking out toward the street, plants hanging down from high ledges. I liked the mall. I had filtered out the control, the push to become what they wanted me to be. Of course I shopped there too.
A number of years ago I read an article which I can no longer find, but the author talked about how corporations are taking over and redefining core ideals which we then live within. While searching for this article on line, I came across an article by Kyle Laskowski. His article was succinct and encapsulates the idea very well. Apparently Naomi Klein brought this idea to the fore in her book "No Logo".
A lifestyle brand is an attempt to make a corporate brand part of the identity of a person or group. People already identify very strongly with their employment, ethnicity, religion, and socio-economic status. Lifestyle brands often attempt to create similar cultural connections. Their goal is to become another way that people use to relate to one another. Lifestyle brands are an attempt to sell an identity, or an image, rather than a product. Advertisers for lifestyle brands make an effort to call attention to who would use this product or what ideals it represents, as opposed to what the product actually does. (**Bolding Mine)
From: Lifestyle Brands by
From my own thinking, the danger lies in how advertising and corporations are redefining our core values, such as freedom, love, wealth and success for instance. Would the image of success be the same without Gucci handbags, a Mercedes in the driveway, Ray-Ban, Oakley sun glasses, Yves Saint Laurent and Ralph Lauren to name a few, all define style and distinction for the successful person.
Kyle Laskowski also says:
It is not only lifestyle brands that make use of extensive branding and advertising tactics. However, they make the most effective use of the power of advertising and branding, turning low quality products into ‘must have’ social symbols without producing appropriate tangible benefits. Branding is used to let physically inferior products masquerade as superior ones in the eyes of consumers and investors alike. A lifestyle brand perpetuates its profits and popularity with branding, not with product quality. (**underlining mine)
The writer I mentioned earlier that I was not able to find, also talked about real estate developments along the lines of TV shows, how living within an identity a corporation provides, a kind of total ownership of our lives.
Today we have Celebration Florida, which may not have been around when I first encountered lifestyle branding. I have so much more I want to write about this topic and will do so in further posts in this series. The importance and impact of what it means to give to someone else the right to define our lives is staggering. We are living in a dis empowered world.
Before I close I recommend reading Kyle Lashowski's article and a youtube video about No Logo, a book written by Naomi Klein.