DEMENTIA | 06.02.2002 12:13
HOW BIG COMPANIES EXPLOIT ANTI-GLOBALIZATION
Did you know what the cool hunters are? Did you accidentally notice lately any advertisements with radical themes or the latest fashion that demonstrates symbols of revolution impressed you? When anti-globalization becomes a mass movement it is easily noticed by the brand companies that they don't want to loose a share from any part of the consumer pie...
Cool Hunt. The chase of modern trends
Let's for a moment assume that you are a big international company which produces products like outfit, refreshment drinks or even music-mostly aiming to people of young age. In the today market only by distributing a product is not enough- even if it has already succeeded. The promotion of products has reached a point where is considered like a dynamic system where one day one product sells like fresh cakes and the next day fades away like if it had never existed. Therefore, a continuous attachment with the consumers is necessary in a way that it will keep people's interest high. Here is where the Cool Hunt is involved.
The whole idea started on the early nineties when Corporate Marketing Consultancies
Like Sputnik, L. Report and Bureau of Style begun carrying out Market research on behalf of Brand companies like Absolut, Reebok and Levi's in a totally novel way. The research included photographing, video shooting and interviewing with persons and acts that were considered to be "Cool" at the moment. The whole plan was to use the results not mostly for developing new products but rather for the same product promotion. " The idea it looks simple in the beginning. Every one could go out in the streets and come in contact with young persons and come up to general conclusions about their trends. Although, how do you know they are the "right" ones? Have you been inside their closet? Have you traced their daily path? Did you hang out with them?
In an interview of Malcolm Gladwell-stuff writer in the New Yorker and also writer of the Tipping point-with heroin a young Cool hunter- recently made to a movie- says: You must be really an expert to interpret the trends of the youth today. It's not enough just observing, you must fully understanding how a trend is made...to be cool is valuable for the marketing because they are able to understand that that the message transferred out there is largely enhanced if the receiver is the kind of person which will put the standards of what is cool....Cool hunting is to detect, understand and finally use."
A small example of cool hunting in practice is the following: Did you notice lately any ads-mainly in university campuses-of the Energy drink brand, Red Bull where young people are needed to work as "Student Brand Manager"? ".. Are you ready for action? Party-studies-Travelling, now you can have it all! You only have to be university student, very open and social person, know when, where n' what is happening.. Red Bull awaits you for unique action! This is a typical example how a big international brand carries out a cool hunt in local level, using as medium the very same young persons and paying almost nothing-comparing to the profit gained.
Hunting the cool character of the Anti-commercial
But, ok. Some institutes that make Market research and sell the data to big companies, so they can sell their products in a better way. No big deal, except of the sad conclusion of the intention abusing the very same way of life of the modern urban youth. Movements like the one of Anti-globalization-with a clear anti-commercial character- hardly could be related and be effected by market research and other tricky brand crap... Apparently, perhaps it's true. Nevertheless the world of Brands does not care about ideology-even if this ideology stands against them. Whatever is considered "cool" today and owes a mass character can be used, so products can be sold. And the cool hunt is directly involved to it.
The Dutch institute Signs of the Time like the previous ones, carries out market research and afterwards sells the data gathered, to clients-companies interested in the form of "Data packets". The customer points out most times the theme and market analyzed previously. The head manager is a Sociology Lecturer, Carl Rhode, and most of the employees are nothing but post-graduate students. The institute in the period of summer 2001 carried out a Cool Hunt campaign all over Europe, called "The Cool Summer Hunt" hunting..."the most interesting persons, places, products and attitudes....
The important about it is that one of the subjects of research was the Anti-globalization movement...
From the web page of the institute we read:
"The new anti-commercialism. Electrohippies and hacktivists all over the world unite.
What is the wider picture of new rebels in Europe?
How to adapt to the new mood?
Faking that you are also concerned is not enough.
Generation SEARCH is far too smart and clued-up.
Young people protest against the
branded universe they have
to live in. Though, at the same time,
they love many of the branded
products it offers. We are definitely
not going back to the anti-capitalist Sixties!
Nevertheless, anti-commercialism is on
the rise and takes unexpected turns"
This presentation is made as a first taste for the clients of the institute that would be interested to buy the research data. As it was mentioned before, cool hunting is not only info accumulation of the modern trends but something that intents to get into the true spirit of the "subject" analyzed. In the same web page it is made clear:
Cool hunting is different from trendwatching.
Trendwatchers discover and describe trends.
If they are good they also analyse the trends and put them in a comprehensible social cultural frame of reference.
Cool hunters do the same. They also go with the flow of trends.
But they participate far more deeply into it.
They really blend in.
They detect, investigate, describe and analyse
Interpreting the above to the conditions of the Anti-globalization movement he have: Young people-cool hunters which begin from entering into the "mood" of the movement and reach to (pseudo-) participate in activities-like demonstrations and speeches-with the purpose not of course to spy and record faces and practices of ideology but to isolate the "cool" characteristics of these persons. What kind clothes, what kind of hairstyle what kind of music, what kind of attitude, what kind of life style in general...All this pretty tied up in a data packet ready for sale to the prospective clients-companies...
Very interesting was also the presentation of the "Cool Summer Hunt" results in a lecture given inside the Research center of the multinational company Unilever. The company is a client of the institute and owes products like Ck perfume, washing machine detergents, Ola-Algida ice creams, calve mayonnaise etc. During the lecture between the several subjects presented was the important role of utilizing celebrities in the promotion, the importance of sex in the advertisements etc. When the analysis concerning the Anti-globalization, was presented an umber of slides were shown with pictures from demonstrations and web pages dealing with similar themes. Emphasis was given to the so-called ad busting-the alteration of ads transforming them to anti-commercial message- and to the kind of music more popular between the fans of the movement. Also attention was given to its philology with references to books like the one of Naomi Klein, No logo. Oxymoron is that the same book deals hot material for the activity of multinational trends in Third World countries...
Anti-Commercial promotion? Already on your screens...
If the institute above is still analyzing the recent results, about the movement already in other parts the practical application of anti-commercially promoting products has begun.
In an advertisement of the outfit brand GAP, shown mostly from in the U.S. the scenario was that: Scenes that look like the street fights in Seattle-fidelity low, like shooting with handy camera. Music back round from sampled Kid Rock song. Plans are cut, troubles happening, you can hardly see people with colorful clothes and hair, plans from fires, shops smashed, panic, and then: "Hate us because we are beautiful...GAP"
Similar ads have also appeared in European TV in promotion of products like milk (!). and other kinds (Radio spots etc).
So, fake ant-commercial. And the reaction?
All the above are already outrageous. In one hand we have buy-sell of "products" which are nothing but research of the human behavior, deals between Institutes-secret agents and companies-multinational empires seeking out not for land but for profit. On the other the disgusting attempt of gaining even from the "radical part". The question now that could really set aside all the above is. Could this kind of abuse really influence and cheat, deceive in reality?
A kind of answer "No, we can not be cheated by this kind of tricks" maybe is not enough. We should not forget that the exploitation is not on the field of making anti-commercial products but on the anti-commercial promotion of every product suitable.
It would be a big lie to say that the consumption does not involve every each one of us. Maybe we should ask our selves when was the last time we spent money for something that could express our "radical" feelings. Even if it was music, clothes or publication. From the Che t-shirt to Rage against the machine, from Doc martens to the big book mal, from the alternative video clips to the rasta hair paints. Sounds a litle out of reality? I hope so.
The Hunter and the pray
In the end of the Malcolm Gladwell interview it is mentioned between others: "..The end of the cool hunt is the kill. The procedure of discovering the cool kills cool. The one that previously had adapted it, watching it know being adapted by everybody else, abandons it and almost runs to the opposite direction..." In this statement it could be confronted. The anti-globalization movement is another prey of the trend exploitation? It became massive so easily as it can be exploited and be abandoned afterwards like an impermanent fashion? If it's so, then pretty soon will decorate the brand's room of trophies. But if not if it really stands outside this game-where it is seen by the profiteering perspective- then maybe the next turn will be a surprise, a hunt trap for the hunter its self with the prey prepared to attack. And maybe is also capable of mangle.
- The site of the signs-of-the-time institute
-Presentation of the article: