Adbusters - acting like an actual Journal of Marketing?
is the magazine of the counter-consumerist-culture movement. Started in the early 1990's, it has issued terrific spoofs of real ads and been at the forefront of the Culture Jamming
As is my habit, I let my subscription lapse a while ago - I do that with the magazines I'm reading when I feel I'm not interested anymore or that the quality has slackened off. Of course, getting copies of CA Magazine in the mail and other things keep me too busy to read everything as well.
I have my reasons, okay?
Anyway, that's not the point - the point is that I wandered over to the online edition of Adbusters magazine and read an article about Nike's resurgence in skater culture
. Once I'm done discussing that, I'll get carried away and attack the husband of a former Canadian Head of State.
The article reports that Nike, long a bastion of anti-corporate sentiments, achieved success, even if some of it was only because they 'manufactured scarcity': they sold limited editions of special copies of their shoes which appeal to sneakerheads
- the "stamp collectors of the sports world." People who buys shoes just to have a nice collection, not to wear them. Imelda Marcos
The interesting thing about the article, though, isn't so much that it's an expose
of the failure of skaters to resist Nike. It's that it reads like an article straight of a marketing industry journal.
Even the commentary about how Nike is ruining something by making it mainstream sounds to me like something you'd read in a typical mainstream journal:
by co-opting rebelliousness into an obsessive-compulsive feedback loop
of consumption, companies like Nike only accelerate the death of the
counterculture that so attracted them. It’s hard to know if Bodecker
doesn’t realize this, or simply doesn’t care, because there will always
be another counterculture to exploit.
And to conclude
Skateboarding has entered an era where top riders sign corporate
sponsorship contracts with “anti-offensiveness” and “no disparagement”
clauses, mainstream television stations like espn – Disney’s sports
division – show the X-Games and skateboarders shred at the Olympics.
Thanks to corporations like Nike we can eat extreme pizza, drive
Nissan’s X-Terra SUV, wear extreme deodorant, hire extreme consulting
firms and invest in extreme equity funds. But if we are all extreme
now, then where have the real rebels gone? Disappeared in a haze of
One of the first commenters on the article's webpage calls the article, "a level-headed analysis of Nike's method
for taking over the skateboarder demographic" and not "Adbusters "let's bemoan the corporate takeover of
the counterculture article.""
But is that really so effective? Reading the article I felt like I could be marketing person looking for ideas to riff on - is that really what Adbusters should be writing about?
Then again, what should they be writing about? Is it better to read about how Harper is going to turn us into a nation of conservative oilers
? Or predictable Google bashing
Or consider their interviews concerning the state of economics on campus. John Ralston Saul
has the gall to accuse U of T
of not having any economic historians on campus.
That's an insult against all the excellent professors that the university does
I had the privilege of studying with Professor Rotstein
- in third year I got to enjoy Canadian Economic History, and that was exactly the sort of course that Adbusters and Saul in particular bawl about not existing
. According to the Economics pages
, it's still available too.
It's definitely the kind of course that makes students go "hmm", forcing them to digest the standard "capitalism is good and perfect" pap they get in their formative classes.
It also proves that Saul is completely full of his own sense of self-important rhetorical garbage. They engage in a 'let's reinforce this logic pile-on' with a quote from activist James Robertson
who thinks that economics students aren't learning about utility curves and other non-purely-money-related modes of thinking.
Wow - prove your point by including the point of view of a nice varied cross section of people... who completely agree with you. That's the worst journalism I've seen in a while, and I've read quite a bit of the National Post
's coverage of the recent Israeli-Lebanon disaster.
Perhaps it's best if Adbusters does stick to its new identity, as a faux
To their credit, at least they did include this cogent reply from an economics student:
First of all I don't think Mr Saul is an economist. Mr Saul does not
like economics because it involves mathematics. I would hazard a guess
that Mr Saul cannot understand the mathematics of economics and would
prefer economists not to use math so he may understand the arguments
and make his own arguments in a social science fashion.
Glad I'm not alone in calling Saul on his crap.
And at least there were some eye-opening things to read about in the article about nuclear might in the US, Israel, Pakistan, well just about everywhere