Stop me if I’m getting too cynical, but I think elections are won by the
guy with the stupidest policies. Not because people are just that dumb,
but because of the nature of democratic elections. Political campaigns
are mostly marketing, and when your target market is the whole country,
any marketer will tell you that your best strategy is to scramble
straight to the
bottom of the barrel and start groping around in the muck there for
the lowest common denominator you can lay your hands on. Because
smart is complicated, but dumb is catchy.
During an election, it’s easy to believe you are surrounded by idiotic,
ignorant, single-issue voters, and these people are the entire reason
the other guy gets so many votes. But they’re not: they just seem
numerous at times like this because they get very loud. I put it to
you that elections are decided by people roughly as informed and
intelligent as you (well, maybe not you), but they
(we) are most swayed by stupid arguments.
Let’s take the War on Terrorism. This is a very powerful phrase,
to the degree that it’s offensive for anyone to say they don’t
support it. But it’s also dumb, because nobody knows what it
actually means. Clearly, we are not about to rid the world of
terrorism, because you can’t defeat an “ism”. Terrorism will be
with us for as long as desperate, insane people exist; the best
we can do is to mitigate the damage such people can do, and try
not to encourage them. Indeed, when terrorism crops up in
of the world,
we don’t even attempt to do anything about it.
In August this year, US President George W. Bush said as much:
“I don’t think you can win [a war on terrorism]. But I think you
can create conditions so that… those who use terror as a tool
are less acceptable in parts of the world.”
This is one of the smartest things Bush has ever said about
terrorism, but from a marketing perspective, it was a tremendous
blunder. Indeed, his political opponents John Kerry and John Edwards
eagerly seized on this piece of insight, and counter-attacked with
statements of piercing dumbness:
“This is no time to declare defeat… the War on Terrorism is
It took less than 24 hours for Bush to withdraw (actually, “clarify”)
his earlier comment and replace it with a stupid, more marketable one:
“In this different kind of war, we may never sit down at a peace
table, but make no mistake about it, we are winning and we will win.”
Bush is ahead of Kerry on national security, because Kerry has a
kind of stupid, nuanced position and Bush has a really stupid but
really simple position. The Republicans rammed this home in a series of
so breathtakingly dumb they’ll
probably win Bush the election. They put forward the proposition that if you
need someone with a big stick to guard your campfire from hungry wolves
at night, you should take the guy who whacks anything that
moves rather than the guy who stops to think about it. Which do you want,
after all: to poke your head out of your tent in the morning to
discover George surrounded by a collection of clubbed wolves, squirrels,
and unlucky family pets who happened to wander by, or be woken in the
middle of the night by John saying, “Is that a wolf? I think it’s a
wolf. No, wait… it’s probably not. Or maybe it—AAAAAAAHHHHH!”
Electing a national leader is a lot like buying a computer
(or, for the geeks among you, a car): it’s too complicated to consider
on the merits, so we end up basing our decision on something simple and stupid, like
how good it looks. We’re simply not qualified to make an informed decision.
Face it: if you had to prove a real understanding of how to run a country
before you were allowed to vote, the President would be elected by about
three people. The rest of us have better things to do than read about history
and economics. Marketers know this, and target it. Taking a simple
position on a complex issue is stupid, but simple sells. It’s survival
of the dumbest.
P.S. If you’re voting in the US election next month and you care about
my opinion, I would vote Kerry. I wrote a blog about why
If you don’t care, that’s fine, too. You can still buy my novels.
On Friday night I shared a few beers with Freddy, a friend of mine, and
around 2AM we were sufficiently inebriated to debate politics.
“So,” I said, jabbing my beer bottle in Freddy’s general direction.
“Who are you voting for?”
There’s a federal election next weekend, you see, and in
Australia, voting is compulsory. I know that just made a few of you
choke on your Starbucks double-decafs, but it’s true. There is a
reasonably sensible case to be made for
compulsory voting, but I don’t like it because
it means elections get decided by people who live in marginal electorates
and don’t give a crap about politics. It’s difficult
to persuade intelligent, well-informed people to change their
political views, so political parties target the swinging “who-cares”
This time around, for example, the government’s chief campaign claim
is that if the other guy is elected, interest rates will go
up, a position backed by no credible evidence and believed by no
economists, including the ones employed by the government. The Opposition,
on the other hand, is simultaneously arguing that the Prime Minister
isn’t fit to run the country and that shortly after the election
he’ll probably resign anyway, points that stand up pretty well on
their own but cancel each other out when you put them together.
The reason I’m voting against the government is that
it’s been busted several times telling
porkies. To my mind, the way
to deal with governments who lie to the general public is give them a
big kick in the political backside. If you don’t, they realize
there’s no downside to lying, and they do more of it. It’s a systemic
thing: voters are meant to reward or punish government behavior.
It’s the only way they’ll learn.
I am not the only person to think this, and indeed “truth in
government” is a big election issue. Until Friday night, I
thought it was the election issue, but Freddy had an alternate
view. “Max,” he said, blurring in and out of focus, “nobody
cares about truth in government. All politicians lie:
the government, the Opposition; all of them.”
“Well, what about Iraq,” I said. “We participated in an invasion
that killed ten thousand Iraqis because the government told us
they had weapons of mass destruction.”
“Nobody cares about Iraq!”
“Pfff,” I said. “Then what do they care about?”
“What affects them. How much money they’re going to end up with in
their pockets. That’s why the government is going to win, because
they’re talking about interest rates, and the other guys are
talking about morals.”
A chill ran down my body, and it wasn’t only the beer
I had just spilled: Freddy was right. It didn’t matter
that the government had lied, or that its interest rates
scare campaign was dubious at best: it was speaking to people’s
Self-interest is a scarily powerful concept. Regardless of what you
think about the morality of self-interested behavior, it trumps
altruism time and time again. The reason why you, reading this blog
right now, are living in a capitalist country is that
capitalism harnesses the power of self-interest and socialism
tries to repress it.
When you’re up against self-interest,
it’s pointless to argue about ethics and community. You can
only beat self-interest with more self-interest.
“What about the fact that the government doesn’t even
control interest rates, and that in fact when they do rise
it’s because the economy is doing so well that it needs
a brake applied?” I argued.
But even I could tell this was too
complicated, and Jen came downstairs to tell us that it was three
in the morning and would we please stop yelling. “Okay, then,”
I said, with less volume. “What about this. The fact is, your
single vote won’t make any difference to the election outcome
anyway, so you might as well vote against the government so
at least you can say you didn’t support lying bastards.”
Freddy considered this. “Hmm. Maybe.”
Aha! Apparently I had found an argument so stupid that it just
might work. This would never fly in the US, but in
Australia, where it is compulsory to exercise your right to
be free, maybe it was just what the Opposition needed. Is it
too late to run up a quick series of TV spots? “And next
Saturday, remember: your vote won’t make any difference
whatsoever. So please vote for us.”
article in New Scientist magazine on a remarkable new
development: neuromarketing. The idea, apparently, is that if you study
what happens to people’s
brains when they’re making a buying decision or watching an ad,
you get all kinds of
insights, such as that despite their protests, women really do find
grossly over-muscled men like The Rock attractive (I knew it!).
Joey Reiman, CEO of a marketing consultancy firm—and may I just say
how sad it is that you so rarely see a CEO named Joey outside of
a marketing consultancy firm—explains the reasons behind neuromarketing:
What if you could, for example, show a company that their moral and
ethical behaviour has a bigger influence on consumer preference than
the color of their packaging or their tag line?
Bwahahahahaha! If you could—hahahahaha! Ethical behaviour! Ohhhh,
that’s funny. No, now I see it: I was thinking marketers would mainly
be interested in working out how to trigger the synapses that make you
open your wallet, but as Joey says it’s really a noble scheme to improve the
moral behavior of corporations by… showing them there’s a buck
in it. Now I feel all warm and snuggly!
This is just another example of marketing bravely going where genuine
scientists went a long time ago, only this time for profit. For example,
17th century physiologist E.H. Weber was the first to develop a way to measure
a difference you could make to an object before anybody noticed,
but it was marketers who applied that knowledge
to shrink candy bars. Yet who gets the Nobel Prize, hmm?
Neuromarketing experiments suggest that a particular part of the brain
is related to product affection—that is, it gets busy when people look
at products they like. So if marketers can find a way to
stimulate that part of the brain, consumers will start drooling
and fumbling for their credit cards no matter what crappy product
they’re being offered—the Holy Grail of marketing!
No doubt there is money being poured into research on lasers or
special chemicals. In the meantime,
though, I think we should all be on the
lookout for sales assistants with small drills and sticky fingers.
Sometimes you have to sit back and say, “Damn, this internet
thing is cool.” I mean, obviously we all know it’s pretty handy. You
can send e-mails on it and steal music and read newspapers
for free. But occasionally you get reminded just how
cool it is, in the world-shaking, society-defining sense of the
word. Like when you go to
Something To Be Desired is what happens when a bunch of
people decide it’d be neat to make a TV series, only
without the TV part. Instead they put up each episode on their web site,
where you can watch it for free. A drama-comedy set around a
Pittsburgh radio station, Something To Be Desired is clearly
being made with very little money but bucket-loads of talent and enthusiasm,
and it’s totally addictive: you download one ten-minute episode
and then you have to find out whether Jack and Dierdre are
going to sleep together and before you know it two and a half hours
have passed, you’ve watched the whole thing, and you can’t believe you
have to wait two weeks for the next episode.
Before the internet, I never would have seen this. In fact,
it probably wouldn’t have been made, because why spend the time
and money producing a series that has very little chance of ever
being broadcast? But the web offers creative people a new way to
drop their work directly in front of an audience.
There’s no need for pitch meetings, for agents, for attending industry
events in the vain hope of networking with someone who can get you a meeting
with someone at a studio; instead, you just produce something,
stick it on your web site, and if it’s any good, ordinary people hear
about it and come check it out.
This is the vanguard of a major decentralization of the creative arts
industry. As the internet evolves, hundreds of thousands of
amateur artists are going to forget about trying to batter down
the closed doors in Hollywood, the networks, and the publishing
industry. Instead, they’ll just publish their work on the net.
Some of it will be brilliant. Much of it will be terrible. But
all of it will be given a real chance to find an audience,
a chance that otherwise wouldn’t have existed. And, damn,
Clearly I didn’t think this through. I now have to write a six-volume
series chock full of appalling characters just to satisfy all the people who
wrote me annoying “Um…” e-mails. It was meant to be a deterrent, dammit!
Now stop it!
Okay, that’s enough. At first I thought this was kind of funny. Then
it wasn’t so funny, then it got irritating, and now it makes me want to hurt
someone. I’m talking about the practice of starting a post with “Um.”
This is particularly virulent on technically-inclined mailing lists
and forums. It goes
like this: a person posts something—a comment, a question, anything—and
some other guy thinks they’re wrong. But he doesn’t just come out and
say that, oh no. First he says: “Um…” Like this: “Um…
Word won’t run on Linux.”
This is meant to convey the impression that the initial post was so mind-numbingly
stupid that at first he couldn’t believe it was actually meant in earnest.
Then, as he began to phrase his reply, he had to pause to ratchet down
his intelligence a few levels so that the drooling simpleton who had
uttered such idiocy would be able to comprehend it. This created a pause
which had to be filled by “Um.”
Only that’s not what happened at all.
If you’re having an actual
conversation with someone, sure, you might say “um.” But if you’re
typing out a post, what the hell are you doing? Are your fingers
operating independently of your brain? No! You’re just being an
Maybe I could deal with this if it only happened when genuinely brilliant people
wrote messages to real morons. After all, geniuses
aren’t supposed to have social skills. But it happens all the
time. This is the exchange that finally sent me over the
#1: Happily seen that Gentoo has released 2004.2.
I’m now using 2004.0 and I wonder whether it is necessary for me to
migrate to 2004.2 from 2004.0.
#2: Uh.. if you do an “emerge -uD world” then you too will
have all the bonus’s of 2004.2…
#3: Really? I think simply doing this won’t change my
It’ll be still point to ../usr/portage/profiles/default-x86-2004.0, isn’t it?
#4: Um, its a symlink… change it to point to the new profile
No! No! Not “Um!” The first guy was right, goddamn it!
You can’t “um” him when he’s
right! What is this um doing? It’s a totally
This is a cancer of the internet, I tell you, and it’s got to be stopped.
Please. I can’t take much more.
(P.S. If anyone writes me an e-mail like “Um… Word can run on Linux
if you use an emulator,” I’m going to name a really bad character after
The commission investigating the September 11 attacks
released tape recordings of some of the conversations from that day.
Among them was one of the most powerful pieces of dialogue I’ve heard in
years. I have no jokes or political points to make here; I just want to
talk about the actual words.
The situation was this: within the last 50 minutes, two hijacked airlines
had struck the World Trade Center in New York, a third had crashed into
the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and a fourth was being tracked. The
national Air Traffic Control System Command Center contacted the FAA
headquarters to suggest military jets be used to intercept this fourth
Many people have said that 9/11 felt like a Hollywood movie.
If it had been, the scene would have gone like this:
TRAFFIC CONTROL GUY
Do we want to think about scrambling
Way ahead of you.
PULL BACK to reveal out of man's office window,
two F-15s screaming off a runway.
Or, perhaps, this:
You guys need to scramble aircraft,
You don't run the FAA, Mr. Ryan. I do.
And I'm not spending twenty thousand
dollars in jet fuel just because you've
got a point to prove!
CLOSE UP on RYAN as his jaw clenches with
This is popcorn entertainment, escapism. There is nothing wrong with that;
I often enjoy a good dose. But what I love even more
are tiny moments of realistic human failing: when a person does something
unthinking, or gets confused. These are touching simply because they’re
real and recognizable. Humans make a lot of mistakes. Our lives are not scripted,
and if we could yell “cut” and do over every bit of our lives we weren’t happy with,
we’d all still be in our teens.
That’s why this little exchange is, for me, almost heart-breakingly tragic.
Air Traffic Control: “Do we want to think about, uh, scrambling aircraft?”
FAA: “God… I don’t know.”
Air Traffic Control: “That’s a decision somebody’s gonna have to make probably in the next 10 minutes.”
FAA: “Uh… you know, everybody just left the room.”
Last night I took a break from re-reading
up a book roughly as long as one of its paragraphs:
Sealed With a Kiss, by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.
It was number 20 in a series, so at first I wasn’t sure if I would be
able to follow the story-line without having read the previous 19, but
luckily these fears turned out to be unfounded. It was a cracking read,
full of hope and joy and heart-breaking pathos, so I’m sharing it
Here’s the blurb:
Mary-Kate and Ashley can’t wait to go home for winter break. But they wind up
stuck in a Harrington University dorm instead.
Things start to look up when the girls meet a new boy with a romantic holiday
You see why I was intrigued. The book’s first sentence alone raised a series
of perplexing questions:
“We’re going home to Chicago for only two weeks!” Mary-Kate Burke told her
First, who, exactly, reads the 20th book in the Mary-Kate and Ashley series
without realizing they’re sisters? I mean, setting aside the possibility that
the previous 19 books have been keeping this a secret, and that the reader has
thus far been unexposed to mainstream media, the book’s cover shot is of two
remarkably similar-looking girls. Isn’t that a giveaway? If you’re worried
about readers that stupid, you probably need to point out that they’re twins,
Second, I can’t help but wonder what percentage of Mary-Kate and Ashley books
contain an exclamation point in the first sentence. I haven’t checked, but I
get the feeling it’s a high number.
Third, and most intriguing: Mary-Kate Burke. The authors of this
book—and it says so on the cover, so it must be true—are Mary-Kate and
Ashley Olsen. I’d thought this was some kind of tell-all
autobiography, but apparently not. It turns out that Mary-Kate and Ashley
books feature characters called Mary-Kate and Ashley that look exactly like
them but are, in fact, fictional. I hope you get that, because I had to stop
and think about it for a while. Whenever I came across passages like this:
“Why can’t you just get another flight, Cheryl?” Ashley asked.
“On what—Santa’s sleigh?” Cheryl grumbled. “It’s the holidays. All the
flights are already booked.”
I thought, “Well, just send your private jet, Ashley!” Then I had to remind
myself that fictional Ashley doesn’t have a jet. People complain that movies
and computer games blur the line between fantasy and reality; I say, start
with Mary-Kate and Ashley. After reading this book, I’m no longer sure if
they even exist. I mean, think about it: first there was just one of them, on
that TV show Full House, then they split into twins; now,
apparently, they have divided again, into the Olsens and Burkes.
They’re actually spinning themselves off. Either that or they’re some
kind of mutant virus, and unless we do something, there will soon be eight of
them, then 16, then they’ll destroy mankind.
But back to the book. It quickly became apparent that Ashley was the more
entertaining twin, getting all the good lines:
“Wait!” Ashley cried out. “I forgot to pack my bathing suit and flip-flops!”
“Bathing suit?” Mary-Kate shrieked. “But the winters in Chicago are
“There are indoor pools,” Ashley said.
Snap! Good work. The book really started to move along when the twins’ Chicago holiday plans were dashed and they were forced to move into a dorm
with four boys. Hoping to recover from the indoor pools comment, Mary-Kate stepped to the fore:
“I hope you like Twister,” Mary-Kate said.
“What’s that?” Derek asked.
“It’s a game!” Mary-Kate said.
“Does it run on double-A batteries?” Tyrone asked.
“How impressive is its resolution?” Derek asked.
“Does it include a thirty-two-bit RISC-CPU with embedded memory?” Garth
They’re computer geeks! (And Derek’s surname is “Wang,” so extra funny.) This was a startling development. I knew that large sections of the internet were writing fantasy fiction about the Olsen twins; I didn’t know the reverse was also true. But then, with adulthood approaching, I guess they have to manage the transition of their fan base from pubescent girls to lecherous men.
The inclusion of geeks as love interest had me hooked, and I couldn’t wait to
find out how the twins would manage to pry them away from their computers. (“Stop
posting about how you’re about to kiss one of the Olsen twins,
Derek, and just kiss me!”) But then a new figure entered the scene. He
was Colton, and I knew he was trouble because his clothes were described
(“cuffed jeans, black sweater, and grey trainers with black stripes”—which,
incidentally, boldly puts an Americanism in “sweater” right next to two Briticisms in
“grey trainers”). Colton looked “like those models in the Gap ads.” He skateboarded, snuck through tunnels, cooked pizza muffins, and his great-grandmother invented the pencil eraser. Or so he said. It quickly became apparent that Colton was a pathological liar. Ashley picked this up straight away, but Mary-Kate was blinded by infatuation.
Alas, if only they’d gone to the geeks, a few minutes Googling would have
punched holes in Colton’s story. But no. Old fashioned Scooby-style
investigation ensued, with plenty of creeping around in tunnels. At one
point, the book got into a bit of trouble when the story required that the
twins and two other girls return to the tunnels, but there was no motivation for them to do so. Authors hit situations like this from time to time, and I tell you, it can be a struggle. The solution to this one, though, was pure genius:
“I am not going back down to those tunnels,” Cheryl declared. “I’m tired of
“Me, too,” Kirsten agreed.
“We have to go back,” Elise said in a small voice.
Everyone turned to look at Elise.
“I dropped my Peppermint Pink blusher in the tunnel,” she explained. “It must
have fallen out of my sweatshirt pocket last night.”
“Why can’t you just buy another one?” Kirsten asked.
“Because,” Elise said, “Peppermint Pink was discontinued last month.”
Down in the tunnels, Ashley got off another zinger:
“Wait!” Mary-Kate said. She pointed to a narrow tunnel. “I know we never went
through this one.”
“Let’s not and say we did,” Ashley blurted out.
So Mary-Kate was already steamed when they discovered Colton’s secret: he was
the son of the tyrannical Headmaster! His full name was Colton Harrington
III, he was stinking rich, and he’d lied non-stop to them since they met.
This, you’d expect, would be when Mary-Kate slapped him, realized how she’d
overlooked the gentle love of the geeks, and learnt a few life lessons about
untrustworthy men who look like Gap models. But no: in the greatest love
tragedy since Molly Ringwald chose Andrew McCarthy over Jon “Duckie” Cryer,
she fell into Colton’s arms. There the book unexpectedly ended; I say
unexpectedly because there were still dozens of pages left but they turned
out to be full of advertisements for other Mary-Kate and Ashley books.
But wait! All was not completely lost for the geeks. They missed out on the twins, but in the final scene Garth scored a slow dance with one of their hangers-on, Kirsten. Alas, even this was tinged with tragedy. Kirsten quickly complained that Garth was “more into computer games than smooching,” and thus the relationship seemed doomed. Oh well, at least it was realistic.
There’s no question in my mind that George W. Bush has been great for democracy.
Previously, a lot of people were becoming disillusioned with mainstream politics,
frustrated at having to choose between one corporate-backed rich white guy with
good hair and another, slightly different-looking corporate-backed rich white guy
with good hair. The feeling was: “What difference does it make if I vote? They’re
all the same. What will one guy do that the other won’t?”
Thanks to Bush, now we know. He’s like a walking object lesson in the
importance of voter turnout.
I’m Australian, but one of the greatest
things I’ve ever seen was a rally outside City Hall in New York in 1999 to
protest the police shooting of Amandou Diallo. Thousands of people voicing their
grief and outrage… all quietly and competently supervised by the target of
their protest, the NYPD. In plenty of countries, the cops would have been beating
the crap out of those protestors. In the others, the protesters would have been
throwing rocks at the cops and setting their cruisers on fire. But not in the
United States. It was, to me, not just impressive but almost magical.
Then there was September 11. In the aftermath, there was a global outpouring of
grief and sympathy for Americans—and more than that, of allegiance. If you lived
in the US, you might not have noticed this. Your attention was, of course,
focused inward. But it was there, and it was extraordinary. It was overwhelming.
What I heard over and over was, “Today, we are all Americans.” Throughout the
world, people wanted to stand by the US.
I wonder now what might have happened if the war on terrorism had chiefly been a
diplomatic one. If the Bush administration had defined what terrorism was and
called the world together to expunge it—not just in one country or two, but
globally, and no matter in which cause it was employed. In 2001, with that
incredible worldwide feeling of unity… maybe it was possible to take that
act of great evil and extract from it a great good.
But it’s not possible now. That global unity is gone, and in its place is
cynicism and mistrust. It
happened because George W. Bush told the world it was irrelevant. As the war on
terrorism morphed into an invasion of Iraq, Bush and his administration said it again and again: “You either agree with us or you are meaningless.”
Maybe it was ignorance of the importance of international diplomacy. Maybe it was arrogance.
Maybe it was even realistic. But one thing’s for sure: the world had offered
its hand in solidarity and it didn’t like having it
Opinion of the US has fallen so low that America is now widely viewed as the
greatest threat to world peace—not just by
people in “Axis of Evil” countries, or Muslim countries, but by majority
populations in Western countries, like Australia, that are staunch US allies and
have troops in Iraq right now. That sounds absurd if you live in the States,
I know. But to understand it, imagine you don’t. Imagine it’s China that has more
military power than the next 20 countries plus yours combined; China’s new government
that rapidly cancels international treaties on everything from anti-missile
proliferation to global warming; that announces it has no use nor care for world
opinion; that conquers two countries in two years and hints of more to come; China
that says other countries must choose to either support it without question
or be “with the terrorists;”
and China’s new President who describes entire nations as “evil” and his country’s
military operations in religious terms.
I hate how the US is viewed by the world today. America is a truly great country,
and doesn’t deserve to be considered deceitful, dangerous, arrogant, and greedy.
But it is, because in the eyes of the world, George W. Bush is the US.
It’s not as if we foreigners watch CNN. All we know about American
politics is who’s President and how many bombs he’s dropping on other countries.
Which is why I hope like hell that John Kerry wins the election this November. If
he does, people around the world won’t know it had anything to do with who
had the better service record, or was more credible on jobs.
But they’ll think, “Maybe Americans didn’t agree with Bush
after all.” They’ll think, “Maybe they’re not all like him.” They’ll think, “Maybe
we can stand together again.”
Another day, another company tattooing itself onto people’s foreheads.
This is why I love marketing: it’s not just shameless, it’s shameless
and imitative. In 2003
was Dunkin’ Donuts, now it’s Toyota taking the word “brand” too
literally and slapping Scion logos and prices onto
40 human foreheads
in Times Square.
“This is the first time we’ve used foreheads,” says Toyota exec Brian Bolain,
which is, just quietly, not a sentence you want to put into your press
releases, Brian; not ever, not about anything. It sounds like there could be
a second time; like forehead billboards could be the next big thing in
advertising real estate. Presumably companies will pay varying rates for
foreheads, based on available space (low hairlines equals low pay, people
with fringes need not apply) and smoothness of texture (perhaps a deduction
But wait! I’m forgetting the most important part: attractiveness. Because
the point of forehead advertising is to embed the brand into the human host,
so it becomes the most whole-hearted product endorsement ever. A person
wearing a corporate tattoo says: I like this product so much, it’s
literally oozing out of my skin! You don’t want uglies walking
around embodying your product; if you’re buying human flesh by the inch,
you want the good stuff. The nice-looking stuff.
the Ad Age
report, Josh Tierney, one of the walking corporate
says, “It is a little compromising.” Getting the tattoo, that is. The logo
tattoo. Tattooed on his forehead. Josh strikes me as the kind of guy you want
around when your plane crashes in the Andes and you need to pick someone to
eat; he’d complain, but only a little.
I have no doubt that this was pitched to Josh as a bit of fun: make some
money, do something silly, why not? Don’t worry about concepts like dignity
and individuality: you can have them back when you’re done. But look at
of the two marketing geniuses who convinced him, standing in Times Square
as their forty Frankenstein Inc’s monsters roam around. Decent-looking guys.
Nice, wide, smooth foreheads. But whaddya know? No tattoos.