_ This piece does not take a side, nor form an opinion. It is intended as a thought gatherer, a prodder, a mirror to hold up against who we are in an effort to improve it. For without criticism, if we just leave ourselves unchecked, then we are prone and vulnerable and we become arrogant. _
This year has been the victory of the slogan. Up until late, the catchy soundbite, the quick, punchy phrase seated on top of an actual point like a ear-catching, melodious crown, was almost entirely the psychological plaything of the Company. The slogan was the epitome of a product, a service, a consumable, and without one, any advert felt naked, mocked by its peers and looked down upon by snooty marketeers. It was the witty extension of the name displayed in front of you, an inspirational peripheral on the arm of a desired logo that sums up its offering in as few words as possible.
The challenge is to take all of those years that we, as purchasers, as spectators, have been subjected to the quirky, irritatingly amusing instantaneous humour of films, the punned conclusion to some epic scene that placed a sugar topcoat encapsulating all of the Hollywood goodness of the preceding fifteen minutes' explosive melodrama, to take that and combine it with the love of an intangible brand that we have constructed so intrinsically well over the last 50 years.
Then people started to realise what had happened. Everyone slowly woke up to a day in which people could do everything, simply by the obvious act of shortening the time taken to do each component activity. Marketing had become an artform. More, an addiction, an injection, a continuous stream of bitesize portrayals of corporate entities, each trying to proclaim the virtues of their new lifestyle at you like a man waiting by a level crossing, shouting at a passing express train. People had no time to listen anymore. And so those that wanted to make a point had to do it while people could hear them.
Soon, the government were acting as if they had 15 minutes in which to sell their ideology to their voters. And the media coverage gladly compressed the politician's succinctities into compact, rememberable catchphrases to fill entire front pages, whilst leaving the rest of the paper free to drip flesh, fear and sport. The public had to be swayed, their decisions and their opinions influenced by a few short sentences, entire careers being carried within a few lines, embraced by wing-like inverted commas that could lift people to new heights of publicity, or condemn their bearer to a shackled dismissal at the hands of the televised mob.
And thus, it was perhaps justly foreseeable, even inevitable, that this battle of brevity, this to-and-fro of staccato'd implications, should fall neatly into the laps of those with all the more reason to emply reason as their standard. The technique pioneered by psycho-socio subliminatory profit drivers has finally come full circle, and at last rests in the minds of those who seek to tumble the tyranny that they must, admittedly pay homage to. Whether they like it or no, it is the case that the coalition of the independents, the "other side" that claims itself as opposition to the established and the establishment, finds itself in a position where its main tools are those mastered by those they seek to disband, a ragbag banded attempt to steal the weapons of a fine swordmaker and use them against the creator. They have become the same, subjected to identical rules on a common playing field, where the screen time you get is the screen time you get, and no more. Where those caught in the middle fight for attention, for a voice more shrill and more memorable than the last.
"Not in my name." "Terrorism on a bigger budget." "Don't attack Iraq." "B Liar."
The irony is that these are slogans that are actually trying to promote not a shoe, or a shirt, or a new drink, but a mindset, an emotion, a feeling that may have some real importance in what we have deemed life. The issues bubbling behind these sayings are much more real than the bank accounts of a fat entrepreneur trying to convince himself that he has changed people's lives for the better.
But reliance on slogans, on taking what fame you can get, is dangerous. People do remember such things, but when it comes to the real world, when the aim switches not to persuading people to part with their money for their own tangible progression, but to instill an idea, to project an alternative train of thoughts upon them, then everything is different. These are not short-term issues that we are dealing with. This not about a fashion, or a latest trend that will change in a matter of months. This needs to be about education, rather than advertising. About reasoning, and a sane debate, rather than just a pitched mudslinging to grab the souls of those who listen as fast as possible.
Remember, a slogan is just the angel on the top of the tree of promotion. It is a sparkle on an entire machinery of consumption and business. If we are to escape this cycle of dependant desire, then we need to awaken our sleeping selves with more than just a handful of words daubed onto a wooden signpost. We cannot expect logic whilst we barely wield just hype.