Burning brands…

Alan Moore quotes from an email he received from Neil Boorman:

On 26.08.06 I am going to gather every branded possession of mine into a warehouse, douse them with petrol and burn the lot…

Until recently, I thought I knew who Neil Boorman was. I felt sure how the outside world regarded me because I had spent a fair amount of time engineering an image. I found the best way to understand and articulate ‘me’ was through the owning and displaying of things made by brands. They provided a source of comfort, a reassurance of my own self worth, they project my identity to others around me…

The reality however is only just becoming clear; with every new emblem of identity I add to my collection, I lose a piece of myself to the brands. They cannot reciprocate the love I give. They cannot transport me to the places I’m promised exist. I am not, nor will I ever be remotely similar to the people that appear in their ads. It is a lie, a lie I have believed in for too long.

How’s that for a piece of performance art? When you read Neil’s blog, he turns out to a little less iconoclastic than you might think:

The fact is that branded consumerism sustains competition in the marketplace. With no competition, there is no impulse for manufacturers to producer better products with greater value for money. Brands are wealth creators; they provide employment across the globe, and ultimately they make our lives infinitely more comfortable. So I have been keen to avoid the No Logo supporters’ calls to ‘bring it all down’. Yes, I am burning all my own branded possessions, and I will be attempting to live my new life brand-free, but the book is really an experiment to see if it is actually possible to disconnect from branded consumerism.

4 thoughts on “Burning brands…

  1. Lee Bryant

    That last quote is very sad indeed. It reads like a Soviet-era statement of support for the Politburo. Every single statement in the first part of the quote is probably wrong. What utter tosh!

  2. Johnnie Moore

    LOL here Lee. I would certainly say the last quote lacks the passion of the earlier ones and feels bland in comparison.

    Somewhere in all this brand talk things seem to get confused. The ability to name things and be clear about their provenance is certainly useful, but that’s stating the blindingly obvious.

    Trouble is, “branding” often stands for a great deal more than giving things recognisable names. It becomes the process of dressing up mutton as lamb, in which case I find it pretty hard to get enthusiastic about supporting it.

    I guess you’re also questioning whether competition is really the only force leading to innovation. I’m strongly inclined to agree with you.

  3. Jack Yan

    If that is what Lee is questioning, then I agree with you both: the World Wide Web is a perfect example of something designed not to compete, but to benefit people.

  4. Anne Sung

    From an interview with Neil Boorman with the Press Gazette online:

    “Ultimately it’s impossible to abandon brands altogether, says Boorman.

    ‘The final twist in the book, if the book is a success, is it doesn’t matter how many brands I get rid of, one new brand is created — and that’s Neil Boorman, the anti-brand bloke.’

    As he burns bridges, Boorman manages to build them. ‘I’ve always kinda liked that kind of duality and contradictions. Sleaze and Sleazenation was a style mag that hated style culture, but we fed off one another and it’s just interesting to have those contradictions, work through them and see if there are any answers at the end.'”


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