Brand names are modern poetry

Back when I was a student I did all sorts of jobs.

I’ve thrown mail-bags onto trains, screwed things to car doors, counted metal brackets, rolled swiss-rolls, packed meat pies, sold ice-cream, dug gardens, wrapped chocolate Father Christmases in foil and put the nuts in nut-whirls. 

Food factories were my favourite places of work; the money was usually quite acceptable and if you were short of a sausage-roll or Crunchie at home….well, necessity can make rogues of us all.

I saw things I will take with me to the grave. 

Things the global food industry must conceal at all costs. Where the stuff comes from, what they do to it, how it affects our bodies; these are matters which must be left in the shadowy corners of our minds. Their tools are fiendishly clever advertising and branding.

Brand names can be the best found-poetry in the modern world. Some of it is so inventive and exuberant in its appeal to the deep imagination it would make T S Eliot gasp.

Take Kit-Kat. It means nothing, but holds….something.

And my favourite at the moment: Five Guys. Here we have simple words moving our minds, feelings, imaginings, away from the mundane truth. Who wouldn’t want to stroll in there with four other guys ? They’re your pals. Construction workers from Brooklyn. They wear jeans and checked shirts. One of them might be Robert de Niro. Or city workers from Manhattan, preparing to shoot downtown. Type 2 diabetes? Furring of the arteries? I’m with the guys!

No one loves brands, catch-words and  -phrases more than politicians.

Somewhere deep in the last century political parties began to realise that branding yielded better and faster results. Why bore and confuse the electoral-fodder with details when all they want is a simple formula ? 

Think back a few months. How many times did you hear certain people repeat (and repeat and repeat) the phrase Take Back Control? How often were we encouraged to make Britain ‘great’ again? What would have happened if the unvarnished truth, about tariffs, price-rises and travel restrictions, had been presented instead?

So, if you’re intending to destroy a hapless country in the Middle East anytime soon, start talking about Operation Noble Cause. And learn from the fairly recent past. When the whole of mainland Europe was mired in horror and fear some people called it The Thousand Year Reich.

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