I sort of pride myself on not being too innovative, yet I”m a fan of jumping on the bandwagon as soon as I see something worth aligning with. I was strolling around campus the other day on my way to Urban to buy a hemp necklace when I noticed a sign duct-taped to the “Don”t Walk” sign. A student group appeared up-in-arms about a “court ruling” that they deemed “racist.” The light changed before I actually read the sign, but it has begun what I see as the most lucrative advertising campaign in years.
Now, as I said, I”m not much for ideas, so bear with me for a minute. If a person is against fighting against racism, then it figures logically that they could be racist. How much more effective would it have been if they had simply proclaimed “Help us fight against this court ruling or you are a racist.”
“Hey, you, do you want to help us fight this court ruling? Oh, no time, real convenient, Grand Dragon, go about your business hating black people.” See? Efficient and effective.
So what we want to do is bring this into the private sector use people”s fear of being labeled by others to the advantage of you and your product/business. “Drink Coca-Cola, or you”re a dirty racist, no better than Hitler, really.” The Pepsi equals Hitler equation is unbeatable. From then on you”d either have to drink Surge or buy illicit 12 ounce cans of Mountain Dew from back-alley vendors wearing pointy white hoods.
While race is always a good hot-button issue, this theory can work with any title or association people want to avoid. “If you”re not homophobic, feel free to drink Sprite.” Or, if you”re placing an ad in Bob Jones University”s student paper, maybe “Drink Sprite, or you”re a fag. Obey your thirst. Unless you”re a fag.” Finally, both liberals and conservatives joining together in mass beverage consumption to re-affirm their sexuality.
Imagine a commercial with a dapper gentleman in a black-on-black suit asking if you”ve lately partaken in the pleasant driving experience of the Dodge Stratus. If not, he”ll pleasantly suggest, than you probably beat children and blind old women with corkscrews. “Feel free to drive the new Lexus RX-300, prove to the world that you voted for Ralph Nader and have a less-than-average sexual organ.”
If it became a known fact, through the all-encompassing advertising behemoth, that those who do not enjoy a five-piece chicken nugget from Wendy”s 99-cent Super Value menu “routinely beat the illegal immigrant children from Madagascar that they kept chained to the dryer in their basement and only fed a handful of glass and boogers once a day for sustenance,” I”d guess that Burger King fries would see something of a recession.
You”d have to be a little more careful when dealing with another person or a specific company. You wouldn”t want to be libelous or slanderous or any number of other impressive sounding legal terms that could end with you out a few bills or sharing a cell with Adebisi from “Oz.” Advertising is the power of suggestion all you need to do is plant the seed. “An unconfirmed report hints that Levi”s allegedly makes their jeans out of human feces and probably uses money funneled by the Nazis during WWII.”
Okay, so maybe I”m getting a little absurd. The brilliance of BAMN and the groups that use language to suggest and hint and quietly degrade their opposition is that they are subtle. To be truly effective, you need to go for the jugular quietly and with an even, measured hand. A crafty politician, during a debate, may say something like “Well, I”m certainly not a rapist,” and then slowly shift his eyes towards his opponent. See? The seed has been planted.
“We at Magnovox are not sure how our opponents feel about abolishing child labor laws and burning churches, but we”re certainly against both.” Or go after the opposition”s celebrity spokesperson. “I don”t know about you, but I feel as if Bill Cosby embodies everything that”s right about living in a totalitarian state under the leadership of a crazed cannibalistic dictator.” Just as the Ringling Bros. never aligned themselves with John Wayne Gacey, Jell-O would dump this weirdo (and their most lucrative ad campaign) in a heartbeat. The fact that the accusation is both unfounded and makes little sense is justified by the inclusion of “I don”t know about you, but …. ” This proves to be simply an opinion, not a probable fact.
At the outset, a certain amount of dissonance will arise from such marketing, as people will bemoan the “ethics” involved in this type of advertising. My only suggestion to these un-American child-haters is that in this country, if it makes more money and doesn”t physically hurt anyone or involve sex or dirty words then, in the name of competition, it should be allowed to thrive.
Lyle Henretty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.