Everywhere the Carnabetian Army marches on, each one a dedicated follower of fashion
Was a line written by The Kinks frontman Ray Davies in their song “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” – which reached top 5 in the charts in 1966. The song satirised the fashion explosion of the 60’s; the infamous Carnaby Street; and, arguably, the origin of consumerism.
Ever since the 60’s more and more people have become fixated on what they look like and what people perceive them. Even a slight peculiar glance from a stranger can become a worm in their minds; forcing them to change every item of clothing, and even remodelling the way they stride down the streets they have become ever so used to.
You can now walk down a jam-packed shopping plaza and see people wearing walking billboards; fluorescent neon colours that give you a headache and brand-logos that take up more than half of whatever they are wearing.
But clothing isn’t the only thing people buy for the brands.
Clothing brands started the snowball of consumerism now if you can buy it, there is a brand along with it. From products such as paint to paper, bleach to butter and honey to hats there is a board of directors and investors behind it all. They each have the intention to maximise public-awareness and public-consumption in ever-increasing quantities. The constant advertising we see on the internet, the television and, if they’re good at marketing, clothing that is just simply wandering displays plant the product in the back of our minds. Militant-marketing like this has changed the way people buy products for the foreseeable future and created a snobbery when it comes to everything and anything you can buy.
If something is cheap, people look down upon it even if it’s exactly the same – my favourite example of this anthropology is the pineapple. The pineapple was first brought to Europe in 1493 by Christopher Columbus; the pineapple was reserved for royalty and members of the aristocracy as the cost of transport and the rarity of it, in that era, significantly boosted the price. In the 17th century, a single pineapple would cost an equivalent of £5,000 in today’s pounds.
The humble pineapple was so distinguished at the time you can see a solitary golden pineapple top grand and eloquent structures built during that time period. Throughout London, you can see them dotted around in places such as Lambeth Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, the National Gallery and even St Paul’s Cathedral.
The Dunmore Pineapple, located in Scotland, was built as a summerhouse for the Fourth Earl of Dunmore in 1761. The structure is known “as the most bizarre building in Scotland” and just further emphasises how cherished and luxurious the pineapple was at the time.
The delicacy of the pineapple ended in the 18th century when improvements in steamships brought down the cost of transport and the rise of consumer farms in Hawaii, which mass-produced pineapples, saw the massive decrease in price, today the once prosperous pineapple would only set you back £1.
But the pineapple didn’t change a bit, they still look and taste the same – the only thing that changed is our attitude towards them. It would be a rare sight to see a modern civic building topped with a golden pineapple.
As any good merchant knows sell the sizzle, not the steak; which is effectively was what those who were trading pineapples where doing, they were selling the experience, selling the rarity and selling the status which comes with it. Which brings me to the reason why I wrote this column, dog food advertising.
As I was cleaning away in the kitchen, I saw dog food sitting on the counter-top. For the first time, I noted the packaging, colours typically used for more high-end products such as black, gold and dark purple and a bold, sharp font telling me the processed raw chunks of meat is “Rich in Taste”. I thought this was just plain-absurdity, selling me dog food by marketing the taste.
Yes I know, it’s not for me but just think about it – food I’ll never eat being marketed as such; appealing to the nations dog owners emotions, appealing to the taste that humans will find revolting. (because a dog likes it doesn’t mean its ‘rich in taste’, dogs will eat sick and will only have compliments to give to the chief.) Dog-food companies have cracked the oldest marketing technique there is, selling the sizzle, not the steak.
I researched the prices of dog-food after this, and I saw prices range from £6 to £80 – with various recipes such as rice and lamb, gourmet fish and potato, and chicken & duck. I care for my dog as much as anyone does but would I spend £69 on shellfish dog-food? No.
Dog-food companies are now capitalising on ‘who loves their dog the most’ and are running with it. Gone are the days when dogfood’s advertising strategy was based on health benefits – now they’re aiming to the people who want to turn their dog vegan. The little brown cubes filled with condensed rice and raw lamb are selling faster than hotcakes. Reaching 1,170 customer reviews on Amazon along with an average of 4.6 out of 5 stars just shows how people have progressed from getting paranoid of what strangers think of them, but now care about what their dog thinks of their moral character.