It’s not just the all-American boy Andy Roddick who is known for the little green crocodile logo on his shirts. Anders Breivik, that well known metro psycho, is causing Lacoste some image problems. The sportswear firm have found themselves involved in some non-consensual sponsorship. The Norwegian killer insists on wearing a red Lacoste sweater every time he leaves his cell.
Lacoste have asked the Norwegian police to issue a ban on the metro-psycho advertising their brand. This is not much different from the recent news that Abercrombie and Fitch offered Mikey Sorrentino of Jersey Shore fame, a large sum of money to NOT wear their preppy casual leisure wear on TV.
Personally I hope the Norwegians do not bow to this corporate pressure. Companies profit from sponsorship and branding; if they start being given the power to ban people from wearing their gear, they become censors.
Of course, they already are censors. You only need to look at Apple and Facebook to see how corporations also engage in the policing of people’s personal expression. Facebook censors groups and individuals, especially in areas of ‘unsavoury’ sexual preferences and sexuality campaigning. Similarly Apple have banned all pornography and ‘explicit’ applications from their i-phone platform/shop. And not so long ago, the bookstore Barnes and Noble banned a Vogue edition that had a photo of the topless model Andrej Pejic on the cover. Because they thought he looked like a topless woman. Whose images are banned from their shops. All the examples I have mentioned of individuals being ‘censored’ by brands are men. I think that is an indicator of just how much the male body is used in the ‘branding’ of products and companies, and people.
But some brands exploit the ‘bad boy’ image. During the UK riots, Adidas and other companies were criticised for encouraging ‘riot chic’ – and advertising their products using imagery from ‘gangster’ culture. But the iconic image of the riots – that young black man amidst burning debris, clothed head to toe in Adidas, was probably too ‘gangster’ for the brand. Maybe they should have paid young men not to wear their clothes before they brought the company into disrepute?
The riots in the UK also led Levis to pull an ad (or was it banned by TV cos?) because it seemed to glamourise young people ‘rioting’, against a Charles Bukowski poem soundtrack.
No Logo by Naomi Klein seems like a ‘classic’ now- and from another more innocent age. But its message is just as relevant as when it was first published at the turn of this century. The tentacles of corporate ‘power’ reach deep into the lives of individual people, whether or not those people actually buy the products of particular corporations. I am not a member of Facebook, I don’t own an i-phone, and I don’t wear Lacoste. But I feel the oppressive watchful eye of those companies on me as I go about my business.
I am sure Lacoste will recover from this embarrassment. Brands have a habit of bouncing back.
Banned (only in the UK) Levis ad featuring ‘rioters’