Let’s push the doors of grocery consumerism. I like witnessing the experience, the image, the philosophy of the chain. I think of all those marketing teams discussing which message would seduce the consumer. Humanity is dissolved in the grand paradox of buying/selling shit: making you feel unique while spending $ on the exact same thing than everyone else.
Here it is: the music (proven to actually dumb you down so you wander purposelessly, zombied out by pop-aganda). I love pop-aganda. The voices are syrupy, sweet af, usually quite weak talent-wise, and sell me some fucked-up vision of like, love, and, like, very insulting lyrics no one in France gets because it’s US pop-aganda.
We also can be submitted to variété française, but mainly it’s a doofus with no family name just spelling out any word in a nonchalant way.
I take a basket, over-designed and having wheels on a nervous-breakdown. Everything is leerily bright and with that green (who’s supposed to motivate you or give tonus but really gives everyone a ghastly snotty complexion). If you’re in a 7-eleven, you’re right into the total absurdity of buying shit. Let me tell you one thing: everything, and I say everything is useless in a 7-Eleven. Just check it out and brace yourself for some serious existential questioning. 7-Elevens have no reason to exist. They’re the pigeons of the grocery food-chain.
But I am in a bigger store, and I as walk into the alleys, while this is playing on, time starts slowing down, graining like sand. It’s this moment. I am really here.
I walk between hundreds, thousands, tens of thousand, hundreds of thousand of products, prices, packagings, messages. Stories-in-a-box, neatly arranged according to fierce stall presentation marketing teams. Which toilet paper will go on the third row?
WHICH, I ASK OF YOU as I stroll I imagine a sweaty, bold guy yelling to his team around a huge glass table. Things are not going well for the PUBCORP team, in charge of the THIRD ROW of the TOILET PAPER ALLEY of the BUYMO stores. Stakes are high as the sweaty bold guy stammers and hits the huge glass door with a capitalist fist. The meeting lasts hours as the intern (who speaks 17 languages and has two doctorates) shakily hands the blueprints of the BUYMO toilet paper alley. WHAT can we do to SYNERGIZE the alley ? How do we organize the third toilet paper row? Will the two-ply do as well as the three-ply? I ASK OF YOU the bold guy yells some more.
All around the world, for each and every product, teams of dedicated minds occupy themselves with the conception, the manufacturing, the packaging, and the selling. Think of it, hear the millions of voices around each ply of each roll of each row. I feel dizzy as these echoes and little rattling noises echo within me.One idea rules it all: it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Nothing has meaning at all. And to say that it is the life of a part of humanity. On their deathbeds, what will they remember? Oh, as the dying sweaty, bold guy shakily reaches for someone’s hand, I SOLD those two-ply toilet paper rolls. I sold them well.
Of course, you could tell me not to think about all that and to shut the fuck up Donny.
A lot of people have been telling me to think simpler-rly lately. As if trying to deepen instead of depend was a bad thing. That is the brilliancy of the plan: no one wants to be bothered in the marketing story-making. We are the victim as well as our own hangman. As soon as a head rises, it is cut by the collective normalization. Shut the fuck up Donny and buy some shampoo.
The feminine beauty alley is my favorite. You may be stunned by the semantics employed. Your hair is dry, damaged, tarnished, your skin is tired, wrinkly, polluted, greasy, full of acne and weird boils and well buddy it looks like you’ve got the plague. Now that you’re aware that you’re a Golum with three dry rag-hair and a lichee-like skin, products throw in hope of remission. They will revive you and give light to your hair and sublimate your face. And they talk to you, to you only. You are a unique queen who will be resuscitated thanks to the magical-ness of a skin lotion. Or, as they call it, a wonderful liquid experience. Really? Once, I even read at the back of a shampoo you have beautiful, shiny hair. You feel good.
You. Feel. Good.
It sums it all.
Marketing and branding is all about a positive experience. It’s not about the product, as we anarchist-thinking basterds have read in Naomi Klein’s Logo. Or, if you prefer, in The Corporation’s documentary (available online here). And let’s not fall into the easy trap of accusing one another of being a worst mindless consumer than the other. A guy, one day, felt very clever as he pointed my Iphone while I was talking about Klein’s book. Yeah, sorry buddy, I’m not willing to twine my home-grown cotton to do my jeans. It’s not about disconnecting radically oneself. I think it’s about accepting the terrible, terrible reality of the story we do not want to wake up from.
Yeah, I should really not think about it. Let’s be simpler. Let’s be happy.