Monday, 10 January 2011

Sloganeers

Postcard - Sex Pistols - God Save The QueenImage by Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos (ClintJCL) via FlickrI have always been fascinated by the Situationists, the revolutionary crypto-anarchic collective that sloganeered their way through the Paris student revolution of the late 1960s. My personal favourite is "Art is dead: do not consume its corpse." Now that's a slogan!

The Situationists were to have a seminal influence on the punk movement around which a deal of my adolescence was constructed. They were, as eny fule no, just dead cool.

There's a tremendous power to slogans, a way of condensing and simplifying thoughts that can become catchy, even thought-provoking. The wonderful world of advertising obviously became a very early adopter, two that I'll probably never shake (because they've been drummed into me through massive repetition), 'A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play' and, more recently, 'Al Futtaim Motors, we care and it shows'.

Do they? Does it? Doubt it, but the slogan's etched on what passes for my brain, for what it's worth...


BMW's advertisement on Dubai's Sheikh Zayed Road has a slogan. Oh yes. "Joy leads; others prosper" the advertisement thunders - like Situationist slogans, often deliberately provocative and wilfully obtuse, the advertisement attracts attention by its seeming simple meaning. Unlike the Situationists, it's actually not very clever.

It actually means absolutely nothing whatsoever. It's just mindless drivel constructed by mediocre intellects, an unwelcome flashback to the constant blare of 'Dare to Dream' dross that characterised the Dubai Property Boom (see yesterday's post). Does it intend to characterise Joy as the ownership of a BMW? I'd rather prosper, thanks. Or perhaps it's saying that other cars are Joy and BMW owners are prosperous. Perhaps someone called Joy has bought a BMW? But then who's prospering? The guy that sold it to her made commission, I suppose...

Yeah, I know I should drive past and ignore it. But it's like a grocer's apostrophe. It niggles...
Enhanced by Zemanta

7 comments:

Sarah Walton said...

Whatever the case, the word "other" indicates mutual exclusivity. Which is plainly stupid. Despite the saying "money doesn't buy happiness", I'm pretty sure that every time in my life I have been prospering, I've also been pretty bloody joyful.

Rupert Neil Bumfrey said...

Having seen the scurrilous image, I am now having difficulty imaging you as "Johnny Rotten"! ;-)

Possibly the grocer's apostrophe makes me think more of "Sid Snot"!

Christopher Saul said...

All together now -

'Al Marai! Testicles turn to rust'.

I love singing that.

The BMW ad is also annoying as it talks about 'less emissions', when it should be 'fewer', unless I am the one getting it mixed up.

Susan said...

My personal objects of hate at the moment are the irritating "truth - reality" crap for a bank that I can't be bothered to remember even though the posters line the Dubai ~ Sharjah highway. To me it says someone made up a brief (remarkable in itself) and the agency couldn't be bothered doing anything creative with it.

Rootless said...

I also saw the ad and shared the head-shaking bewilderment at this billboard so I am pleased that you have posted about it. My thoughts veered not so much to the Situationsists as to "Mind Your Language" since it struck me more as a very poor comedic effort from a happily long past era. You see, I suspect it is the consequence of a half-arsed effort to translate a thought that may be coherent in another language but is rendered meaningless by a literal Google translation. We few speakers of Irish (Gaelic) are familiar with a phenomenon we call "Béarlachas" (from Béarla, the Irish word for English, if you see what I mean). This happens when you attempt to literally translate a sentence from English into Irish by replacing the English word with the directly translated Irish word. The words may be correct but the sentence will be gobbledygook because Irish syntax, grammar and idiom are completely different to English (we have no words for “yes” or “no” for example, which explains why Irish people when speaking English - even if they can’t speak Irish - will often answer a question with the verb rather than “yes” or “no” e.g. Q. Are you going out? A. I am). Other languages report the same invasion of English viz. Franglais, Denglish etc. though that often refers more to words rather than sentence structure.

Anyway, in this case, it should be possible to suppose a more useful slogan, closer to what may have been intended. For a start, as I recall, I believe the slogan actually reads: “Joy leads. Others progress” Only slightly less obscure than your version. I fancy the intent may have been more along the lines of “While the rest are just keeping up, move ahead with joy”. Not elegant, I’ll grant you, but possibly more coherent and relevant for a vehicle. Still, it got our attention even if it has decreased my propensity to consider a BMW (and I regularly waste my money on over-priced “luxury” German vehicles) . And nowhere near as annoying as LG’s banal “Nobody does it better” slogan with attendant campaign pandering to “traditional” sexism.

Dave said...

Some of the slogans and advertising here make me want to puke...

But it is funny how I can still remember the Coca-Cola adds from when I was a kid.... "The Real Thing" etc....

Catalin said...

I didn't notice this until someone pointed it out to me, but the "Joy leads; others prosper" seems to be taking a swipe at the Audi ads on Sheikh Zayed Road that have something to do with "prosper". I can't remember exactly what Audi says, but check it out next time you see the ads.

From The Dungeons

Book Marketing And McNabb's Theory Of Multitouch

(Photo credit: Wikipedia ) I clearly want to tell the world about A Decent Bomber . This is perfectly natural, it's my latest...