Friday, 11 January 2008

Oh COCA-COLA! (brand blasphemy)

More musing from the semi-sick bed.... Yesterday I was playing snakes and ladders with my 5 year old, he didnt get the dice roll he wanted and he went "Oh COCA-COLA!"

As far as I know he has never drunk Coca-Cola, nor as far as I am aware has the brand even ever been mentioned in our house (as opposed to McDonalds which he calls "Old McDonalds and which he knows as a kind of 'get fat quick scheme' thanks to his mother's gentle indoctrination). His other 'swear words' are straight off the playground eg "You Punky Head!" is a particular favourite.

So was it just a playful verbal accident?

Or did he pick it up at school?

And if so is this a potential global pandemic trend; the use of brand names as benign swear words?

They are such brilliant words of course, they lend themselves to it rather well. And there have been ideas knocking around like Brand Religion. So isnt brand blasphemy the obvious next step?

What other brands might line up behind this mutation in vernacular? (witty suggestions welcome in comments ;) Brands with K's in them look suddenly vulnerable (KODAK off!) Or brands with references however oblique to swearing (B--P). But it would be mostly down to the random creativity of the street (DIESEL-NIKE)

This isnt culture jamming particularly (remember rave t-shirts like "Enjoy Coke" and "Burger Christ"?)

But it's a such an 'interesting time' for global brands again, just like in the mid 1990s, especially those representing companies with enemies in NGO and other circles.

Why might this explode?

It's funny, especially when kids do it.

They wont get into much trouble with parents or teachers for it & they may even approve.

Crucially it's also quite adaptive to for example environments which automoderate out swearing (Habbo's bobba filter).

It's cool to reject brands (which represent the establishment, eg big businesses).

And brands have fame and character which quickly creates currency essential to slang - eg "it's all gone Pete Tong". Or "it's all gone totally Coca-Cola" as we now say :J


Anonymous said...

At least the kids will veer away from the more mature and more violent swear words. I have to agree that it sounds pretty cute coming from them and perhaps detachment from such big-name brands is a good thing. It could have some sort of unconscious effect and less dependent on said brands.

Anonymous said...

Love the idea of using Brand's name in vain! Perhaps a cultural turning tide from Label Worship in Retail Cathedral's. Trust the little one's to show us the way ;-)