Home | Features | Music | Fashion | Interviews | Archive | Contact Us
by David Kenny
Years ago before Damon Alburn turned
into a Brit Art fop and hung around the Groucho club listening to
Icelandic trip hop with Damien Hirst, he once sang that “modern life was
rubbish” and to honest with you, I have to agree with those sentiments.
For every advancement the human race makes there always seems to be some
niggling drawback. Some unexpected side effect, which brings us down
another notch on the evolutionary ladder. For example, take your mobile.
Mobile phones = good, annoying ring tunes and happy slapping = bad. And
then there was Digital TV with more choice for the viewer = good, 200
channels showing nothing but endless episodes of ‘Real Footballers Wives
go Dancing whilst locked in a house for 4 months Factor’ = bad.
But as usual it’s the small really
insignificant things that truly annoy me. The kind of mundane, day-to-day
realities of life that can rile me from my usual placid (I said Placid!!)
self into a ranting loon. And one curse of modern living, that now seems
to have permeated into the fabric of our society and seeped into our
culture, that infuriates me the most is: Rebranding!
Yes, rebranding. The corporate con,
the commercial sham, the advertising hoodwink…. The art of repackaging
something, sticking a nice shiny new logo on it and calling it the best
thing since sliced bread whilst in fact it’s the same old crap you were
selling ten minutes ago. This, for some unknown reason seems to annoy me
intensely. And more so the way normally intelligent and reasonable people
fall for all of this without a flicker of cynicism (which in itself used
to be what us Brits done best. Stiff Upper lips, Colonialism and Cynicism
were our gift to the world. For over a decade our biggest export was
sarcasm. Now I fear we will all turn into Tofu practising, Yoga eating
Californians by 2020.)
This has been a sore point with me
ever since I was 8 and some advertising whiz kid, probably with slick back
hair, leather tie, red braces and a filofax, decided that Marathons were
now to be called Snickers. I can still remember the rage boiling away
inside me when I found out this was going to happen. No one had asked if
they could do it. There wasn’t a vote or even a meeting. It was just
decided for us. All my mind could do, albeit growling with murderous
contempt, was think “How dare you!!” which was then quickly followed
with, “What the bleeding hell is a Snicker anyway??”
And Snickers have not been the only
casualty in the confectionary world. Oh no. Our beloved Opal Fruits have
also been attacked. No longer are they “Made to make your mouth
water”, instead now they’re called Starburst!! Bloody Starburst??
Starburst is the name for someone whose parents were Hippies and who was
born outside the Dijeridoo tent at
Don’t get me wrong, I understand
the need for rebranding. It’s vital that a company keeps changing and
evolving in order for it to stay in business and if this means changing
the company’s image then so be it. Skoda, for example, make very good
cars, designed by Germans, engineered by more Germans, manufactured by
even more Germans but yet you still wouldn’t be seen dead in one. It
needs to rebrand itself.
But what’s not need is what
happened to Captain Birdseye. This fictional sailor has been a British
institution for decades, generations of children have grown up with him.
Then all of a sudden this fatherly figure got rebranded. Suddenly this
Sailing Santa Claus was turned into Jean Claude Van Damme and Arnie’s
Love child fighting off hordes of sea monster terrorists. This is not what
Captain Birdseye was about!! Captain Birdseye was about a man with a white
beard, a Cornish accent and an unusual passion for fish fingers (Have you
ever noticed that when you are having a meal that Fish Fingers are always
on the kids menu but never on the adults menu??)
The closest Captains Birdseye ever
got to violence was catching some inept pirates with a rudimentary man
trap fashioned out a net and baited with a chicken
Although Captain Birdseye does have
his dark side. He keeps a terrible secret, which was suppressed by the
Establishment for years… Did no one ever notice how his ship was always
crewed by a motley bunch of Children?? Why were Social services not
involved?? Why was he never charged under any Child Labour laws??
I’ll tell you why, because Captain
Birdseye is actually a White Slave Trader. He has sailed from the Pacific
But rebranding doesn’t only happen
to food. People rebrand themselves, more so than ever. Do any of you
remember Darius?? No I thought not…
of us will remember him as that annoying div from Popstars (Those of us
with Digital TV will also remember him from Popstars Extra, Popstars
Exposed, Popstars Reunited and Celebrity Sperm Bank) who was
kicked out after a his ‘unique’ take on Britney Spears Hit Me
Baby One More Time, which was so unintentionally funny it was worth that
years entire TV License alone (that’s if I actually ever paid mine).
Here was a man to be ridiculed and heckled if ever encountered in the
street! But then he left it six months, came back with a new “Image”
and his own, distinctive brand of bland, insipid pop. It’s amazing what
a haircut and a shave can do for your career. After a few hit records
he’s now off around the world knobbing
Then there is the fickle world of
fashion where rebranding is a way of life. I’ve forgotten how many
“New Blacks” there has been but its been plenty. And if you walk into
any fashion store now you can see the evidence of rebranding everywhere.
In the last few years such fashion crimes as Dunlop Green Flashes and Gola
have become popular with both your average spiky haired, Hollyoaks stunt
doubles and your garden-variety indie kid with drainpipe jeans and suit
jacket. (WHY?? Looking like Status Quo on Wogan is NOT cool!!!)
In my day, wearing jimmies like these
were bound to get you a good hiding, now you’re seen as the coolest cat
in Kitty town (another reason to despair!!) This trend worries me so much
that I now walk around town in a pair of Hi Tech Silver Shadows in protest
at this madness. It’s my sartorial equivalent of the Buddhist monk
setting himself on fire in protest of the Vietnam war.
Possibly one of the biggest examples
of rebranding is one that can be seen up and down the country every
Saturday. Football got rebranded. Saying you were a football fan pre Euro
96 was a little like telling someone that you were a knuckle dragging,
baby eating skinhead. But somebody somewhere spied the potential for a lot
of money to be made and so a Rebranding was called for.
Euro 96 changed all that. The media
hype began early and the grounds had been cleaned up and made safe after
After Euro 96, all sorts happened.
Celebrities professed their love for football. And it wasn’t just the
miserable bassist from some dirgey Indie band from
But by far and away the worst aspect
of Rebranding is when it came into British politics. And with it came New
Labour, The Socialist party with a corporate image.
This sort of thing had been present
The sight of old Labour Stalwarts
stood around dancing and singing to “Things can only get better” on
election night still has the power to make me projectile vomit today. But
for all the spin and crony-ism and scandals that were set to follow,
people lapped it up. For a brief moment in the summer of 1997, the British
lost there sense of cynicism, we were willing to believe that Things really
could only get better.
Rebranding, that most capitalistic of
ideals, had come and helped sweep the Labour party to power. Before it was
seen as a lumbering old beast of a political party, split by internal
divisions and squabbles between factions. Somehow the party that
represented the ‘average working man’ had been unified and given a
slick new Publicity machine, oiled to great affect by the Spin Doctors
such as Darling and Mandelson.
The term Cool Britannia was bandied
about everywhere even though all the best parts of it had happen 3 years
previously under a Tory Government, It was as if
The Prime Minister now partied with
Oasis and liked football etc etc. He really was like the trendy vicar who
had a motorbike, wore a leather jacket and could play the opening chords
to Stairway to Heaven.
It opened a Pandora’s box of
moments, which make you squirm. Moments like David Cameron doing a web
cast whilst pretending to do the dishes or Gordon Brown telling you he has
the Kaiser Monkeys LP on his I-pod or any time whenever John Prescott is
allowed in front of a TV camera!
However, as long as people are
willing to accept style over substance and good marketing over the truth,
then Rebranding is here to stay. So it looks like we can look forward to
seeing the same old TV shows from 20 years ago but with the word celebrity
stuck in front of it, an eternity of buying “New and Improved” washing
powder and more embarrassing moments of MPs being down with the kids!
So, ill leave you with the words of
“Don’t. Don’t. Don’t.
Don’t. Don’t believe the Hype!!”
| Features | Music
| Fashion | Interviews |
| Contact Us
Copyright © 2006 Swine Magazine. All rights reserved.