I found this topic to be extremely interesting because it dealt with and culture jamming and the way society today focuses on symbolism and what it represents. For instance, Jordan states, “The Nike website for women is called NikeGoddess; if you buy Nike, you don’t get shoes, you get to be a goddess” (108). This type of imagery explains a lot about how society today functions; in particular, it shows how certain brands of today are associated with greater prestige and wealth.

The author also connects the idea that branding has become so integrated in our lives that many modern events are now seen through the eyes of cultural symbolism. For instance, he comments “the gulf war is often referred to as the nintendo war” (110) primarily because the war was around the time nintendo came out with a game, and the images of the game were similar to what was going on in the battlefield. This is particularly interesting to me because it shows that as a society, we have come to such levels in terms of being dependent and excessively following technology.

I feel that these points are extremely important when thinking about contemporary activism because slogans and branding are ways by which many important messages are disseminated today. For instance, “Black Lives Matter” is an important expression today that began its birth as the product of intelligent marketing. This expression has brought millions of new followers of the movement to restore justice for African-Americans. Another similar expression, “hands up, don’t shoot” is also very popular today primarily because the expression has become associated with police officers committing acts of brutality towards reportedly harmless and innocent African-American men. With the advent of social media, it is now easier than ever to have trending hashtags that highlight political awareness and standing up for a cause. The association of brands to new ideas and movements clearly has a compelling effect on audiences.



3 thoughts on “Branding”

  1. In many ways branding has surpassed the importance of product as consumers are quick to buy anything stamped with a “swoosh” rather than evaluating its ability to perform as advertised. Thus, in many ways your point that brands associate themselves with ideas of wealth and prestige is evident when people desire to buy a lifestyle rather than the product itself. In addition to the importance of cultural symbolism, with the information age, the role of political leaders and other individuals in power to define ethics gave way to activist groups, which are generating new ethical forms. Therefore, I agree that branding is important because it is crucial to how ideas are disseminated by activists outside of the economic business world. Overall, your points are very interesting in bringing together the impacts of branding to the overall influence it has on how activists are using short slogans or common sayings to unify a group with common desires to change society.


  2. I agree with Makena’s point that branding is more important than product quality in many cases. Brands attempt cultivate a “willingness to pay” based on the lifestyles they promote, so even if their product is only marginally better than some competition, they can ask a disproportionately higher price.

    It seems to me that maybe there is an argument to be made that we’re overly focused today on marketing ourselves, which is why we’re susceptible to branded marketing campaigns such as these. For instance It’s easier for me to buy Nike shoes than to put in the time to become a good runner. So maybe, just like we confuse branding for a good product, we confuse living a prefabricated lifestyle for the way we actually want to be living. I think this is maybe relevant to activism, and worth asking in the context of “easy” activism – hashtags and Facebook rants, say – versus some less-publicized way we could make more of a difference.


  3. This is a great article, and it does deal with a breadth of topics under culture jamming. In particular, I’m interested in the role technology plays and synergistic effects of mixing “internet memes” with real world protests. Without a doubt, movements like BLM have raised significant awareness in large part due to the deluge of online information. However, large corporations and opposition groups have access to these same resources and can just as easily unleash an online ad campaign in response. I’m really curious how these clashing online messages will affect users, especially as companies like Facebook are working to eliminate online echo chambers. Another thing I’m curious about is how much of this online movement is driven by millennials, especially since the younger generation are the primary drivers of this big data / social media revolution.


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