We are surrounded everyday by big brands from corporations and media on all sides. You are drilled into having the latest pair of Jeans, or perfume. We are told that we need these things or else our lives would be unfulfilled. Fashion promoters revive the same old styles of the older generation and pass these off as modern to the new generation having the youth falling over themselves to get a copy. Advertising and public relations show us the consumers everything we aspire to be, to have or to associate with and branding makes even the same product different from the rest. Media pounds into our brain through the gospel according to this or that brand owner, the exact thing we need to be satisfied and feel good about ourselves
Advertisers feature beautiful and confident looking people to tell us that if “we want to be like mike,” we must wear a certain type of clothes, a particular head gear, underwear or a special wrist watch or shave our heads to the point of baldness. If we want to have a thin figure we must go on a brand name diet plan or exercise on a brand name stationary bike. We drink sodas, eat KFC and wear Nike everyday of our lives all because of branding. If you doubt that just reflect on the real reason why you are at KFC instead of frying your own chicken or always choose a particular brand of sneakers and swear by it every time. It is simply because the advertising made you do it and not the Devil. To us a certain brand means quality, price and status image. We become walking billboards for the companies with a Lakers cap, a Heineken T-shirt and a pair of New Balance sneakers whilst driving a Toyota Pickup. We advertise New York tourism with “I love NY” caps we actually paid for with hard earned money and the New York tourism department must be gleefully saying, “Thank you very much.”. The corporations have cleverly set us up to spend our own money, to purchase the products featuring their names and so we advertise their names and products everywhere we go at our own expense. Even the bus drivers have got into the branding business, christening their 15 seaters with all sorts of names to the point of absurdity and some with a biblical quote cum warning that ‘No weapon formed against me shall prosper.’ To that I say, ”Except the speed that you drive.”
However branding does not stop at products and things. There is also personal name branding sport in Dominica and since branding has the nasty habit of sticking regardless of the truth of it, whether things change from bad to good or vice versa know this, that once you are branded you remain branded. A drug addict is branded ‘paro” for life, just like a drunkard or someone who stole money is branded a thief. Politicians in particular love to steal away reputations in the tactically held belief that if they are to take you down they must first destroy your name and when they are finished with you everybody brands you as the “bad egg”. They are on safe ground with wild accusations as they have audiences that love to hear a demolition job on the opponents.
The PM brands some Freedom Party supporters who please him as “classical” and the others who give him a headache as “rebels.” The rebels are still stuck with that brand. Any opposition views is branded with the word “troublemaker” and the parliamentary opposition is mostly branded as a bunch of failures lurching from one position to the next who have no idea of how to win elections. The justice system is branded unjust, the Speaker of the parliament is branded unfair, and people are finding out that an elected representative can act and be branded as a dictator just like a real one. However none of these compare to the public relations branding job struck up by the coalition of the Labour and Freedom parties to unseat the UWP in the 2000 elections.
The UWP was shaken to its core with allegations of corruption in government and lost the 2000 elections as a result and is losing ever since. Then as if to add insult to injury, the Labour Party after 2005 elections engineered the floor crossing of the very UWP person they most accused of corruption and then won even bigger 18-3 in 2009. .
This kind of dubious and even irresponsible branding of 2000 however carries with it serious after effects.. The legacy of accusations of wrongdoing and corruption is now the way, the truth and the key to political life. These days the nation reels every week with new charges of corruption in government. The truth is not necessarily on the table anymore rather it is the branding card that dominates the play. The branding of an ambassador as someone with a certain sexual persuasion may be completely wrong but the brand sticks nonetheless and the ambassador struggles to erase it. Despite the efforts of some to disprove it the new extravagant state house is branded as a waste of money and indeed it is and the Library sits right opposite suffering in its neglect and gazes upon it mournfully. As we draw closer to another election day the branding games afoot and the branding chorus is alive and singing. When all is said and done the voting public brands all political parties as a waste of time, while the politicians brand the voters as talkers who will just grumble for 5 years but will vote for them the same way on election day anyway.
Listen to audio of column below.
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