Madison’s Revolution

Branding and advertising are two constantly changing and evolving fields of design. In order to be effective they need to strongly pay attention to what’s going on around them and more importantly what do people want now. In the second half of the 20th century it was sex – so carefully repressed before. Especially female right to intimate needs and desires. Advertising, film and fashion industries raced against each other in producing more sensual, more radical, more liberating content.

In 2017 sex doesn’t sell anymore, so what does? Activism. Brands are now using radical symbols to promote their products and to shape their identity. If they are not taping onto existing movement they can even jam themselves as it was the case with Nike and their 2000 campaign. Being socially discredited for using sweatshops and prison (even slave) labour Nike faced a couple of years of decreasing profits. They decided to join the enemy and rebel against their own practise releasing a series of ads with a slogan “the most offensive boots we’ve ever made”. Although strongly related to sport rivalry the slogan was associated with the sweatshops by the public and caused a big discussion about the brand. Nike became a news story and gained free publicity using the rebellion that was forming against it.

However, the company does not need to be under a big protest threat to reach for new means of promotion. Since rebellion became a trendy topic lots of companies try to adapt to this new way of attracting their audience. Kingston launched their “It’s my space” campaign, 2014’ Grammy billboards screamed “Music unleashes rebellion” and let’s not forget Vans ‘off the wall long’ lasting campaign.

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Has activism and rebellion became a new way of communication between the public and the industry?

Jordan, T., (2002) Activism, Culture Jamming and Semiotic Terrorism
Frank, T.,  Commodify Your Dissent, Why Johnny Can’t Dissent
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