The Invasion from Outer Headspace


Here’s a heady thought for a Tuesday morning.   I was looking at an article from Britain that examines how counter-culture has been exploited to sell booze.  I then began to wonder about alcohol marketing here in the Americas.

Before I delve too deep into that notion, let’s first acknowledge what Adbusters would have us understand:  branders and marketers are working to continually encroach on our intellectual, public, private, and (shared) cultural space.  They are looking to invade, conquer and settle down into our social-political-consumerist reality.

Psycho-Imperialism, I’ll playfully say…

Looking around, I see marketers forging brand identities so omnipresent that they become part of us.  Think about ‘Kleenex’ and ‘Javex’ – words that are used interchangeably with ‘tissue’ and ‘bleach’.  Or, ponder the ubiquity of ‘Coke’ and its association with everything.  These brands have melded into the cerebral landscape so indelibly that we know these products unconsciously – they have become one with our collective culture.

Alcohol branding is no different.  Instead of selling booze, they are instead selling ideas, experiences, excitement and associations that prey upon our emotions.   Maybe you’ve seen popular, ‘cool’ and funny ideas, such as The Most Interesting Man in the World.  But there are also ‘counter-cool’ ideas.   If you are feeling a little rebellious and anti-establishment, well, the establishment can sell that to you as well.   For example, certain energy drinks are marketed to be associated with danger, risk-taking and vigor.  Combine with vodka.

Certain beers are sold to us as tough, different, edgy, escapist, or raw.

Certain whiskeys are portrayed as daring, character-building, fiery, or we are somehow meant to believe they are consumed as an act of leadership or maturity.

How very, very strange.


Photo by Sean MacEntee (Flickr) via Creative Commons. [No changes]

Author: Doug Ironside RN

Doug is a Registered Nurse (PHN) with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.

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