On selling out and driving a tazz

This tweet has been bugging me all day.  I don’t know which bit bites me more.  Our ‘issues’ about selling out?  Cashing in one’s “cool”.  Or the quip about girls not respecting a man for driving a Tazz.


Ok, let me caveat this briefly.  Twitter as stream of consciousness is a given.  Sometimes our collective conscious throws up some pretty dumb stuff.  It’s hard enough to share layers of thought and meaning and innuendo and subtlety, let alone in 140 characters.  And I don’t know CapeTown_Girl in the real.  Or how much of her online persona is mixed in with who she is.  So I have no idea as to her intent.  Flippant?  Deeply ironic?  I’m going with both.

So this here rantlet is purely my own reaction to the words as they stand, in my very own frame of reference.

I work in marketing.  I work in the very industry that finds new and ingenious ways to flog more stuff to people.  I have no illusions about any great altruistic contribution to the world.  The gift of my graft to the greater good.  I’m frikkin’ PR, for god’s sake.  But I like to think I have integrity.  I’ve said no to clients who’ve thought spin means finding nice ways to tell lies.  I’ve turned down high-paying work because I don’t support the category.  I find it hard to write drivel about stuff that’s not important.  And I’ve found a place to work that supports my values, even when we occassionally disagree on the exact shades of gray.

It’s bloody hard being a marketer these days.  No one believes advertising any more.  Trust is out the window. The pursuit of the advertising budget means the only worthwhile reads are the Daily Maverick and the Mail & Guardian.  You can’t just say you’re better than the competition, you have to prove it.

And that’s just the corporate machine.  The whole world seems to be finding ways to cash in on the almighty brand.  The clutter is beyond comprehension.  Students branding their cars for petrol money.  Okes selling their foreheads as advertising space.  Women selling their unborn children as brand ambassadors.  Ok, I made the last bit up.

But the point is, we…at least I…want some things to remain unstamped by the big green money making monster.  I want to be inspired, moved, touched, motivated, embraced…but not (always*) brought to you by Big Brand, selling brands since 1863.

So when people like artists and poets and dreamers can be bought….when their whole aim in life is to sign that next big sponsorship deal…my heart sinks a little.  How can I trust you, what you say and what you stand for if I know that even a percentage of that ‘supports the message of our sponsor’ or whatever.

I get that there is nothing sexy about starving for your art.  Freezing garrets are not great real estate.  But surely there can be patronage without being patronizing?  More Medici and less McDonalds?

As for men in a Tazz.  I knew a man who chose to drive a Tazz instead of an Audi.  Let’s call it a lifestyle choice.  A choice that meant he made less money, but he was home every night to put his kids to bed.  I respect the hell out of him.


*Of course, for all my ranting, I’m not sure why I’m ok for Lady Gaga to be a brand bitch, but I’m disappointed by The Parletones?  The subjectivity of art?  My own aesthetic as a form of prejudice?  All of the above?  Either way, it reminds me that it’s always a little more complicated than that.

6 Responses to “On selling out and driving a tazz”

  1. 1 Cazpi September 8, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Yes, agree with you – on the fact that trust is gone, and the fact that that statement is whacky. I know a man too, who can afford any car he wants, he drives a Jazz, cos it is fine. Apparently, one of the richest men in the world, drove his 1982 Cressida for many many many years, because it worked just fine. He could have had 75 cars, but his worked. Where have people’s priorities gone? This seems to have been a theme this week actually. Priorities up the pole. Meh

  2. 2 Darren September 8, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Damn right Kate.

    Forget the tweet, I mean the rest of it. The way everything is built upon the premise that everyone has their price, it’s just the price that differs.

    Well said.

    Now to business, how much do you charge for advertising space on here? (just kidding 😉 )

  3. 3 Jeanette September 8, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Awesome post!! But I do like the Parletone’s wine in Woolies, but probably would have bought it without that label anyway 🙂

  4. 4 katewolters September 8, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    @Cazpi: perhaps this is why I’m having a little outlaw nostalgia this week.

    @Darren: thanks for the comment & the RT. And hell, I didn’t say I wasn’t for sale…just that my currency might be a little different 😉

    @Jents: 😀 It’s like old David B…can we actually remember which of the gazillion brands he endorses? And do we care? In my more cynical moments, I think why not…why not just take the ride for all you can get? But then I remember how I felt when I found out the Walmart people were fake. Or watched that KFC ad. I think about how much MORE I like people who hang on to (my definition of) integrity in the face of it all.

  5. 5 mattvisser September 7, 2011 at 8:11 am

    Nice post, my 2 cents..

    There’s nothing wrong with making money from what you do, but when making money becomes the reason for what you do,
    that’s when I lose respect for you.

    We all need to eat, but that shouldn’t be the reason we get out of bed mid afternoon 😉

  6. 6 katewolters September 7, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Co-sign. I suppose my basic issue is in the integrity of the work (of craftspeople, particularly). If it’s influenced by the sponsor, it loses something.

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