No 1933 Posted by fw, April 15, 2017
“You’ve probably noticed that Donald Trump has turned the presidency into an extension of his corporate brand…. And brands can be jammed. You just need to understand the image they’re selling. Now, culture jamming fell out of fashion for awhile but with Trump everything nineties is new again, especially his core brand identity – MONEY. More specifically, Trump’s brand is being the boss who is so rich he can do whatever he wants. Now that we know exactly what the brand is, it’s obvious how to mess with it.” —Naomi Klein, The Intercept
There you have it in a nutshell, the essence of Naomi Klein’s strategy to mess with the Trump brand. She goes on to outline four “mess-with-it” steps: 1) – FIRE THE BOSS; 2) — MAKE “RICHIE RICH” LESS RICH; 3) GO AFTER THE BIG FISH; 4) BE A NUISANCE
Klein recaps her video with this advice —
“So, go forth and repeat thyself – the president isn’t a boss, he’s a puppet. The president is getting less rich by the day. If his brand gets battered enough, Trump just might course-correct on some of his more whacked-out policies. And at the very least, screwing with his central pitch to voters – “Trust me, I’m a successful billionaire” — will hurt Trump’s chances in 2020. That is, if his giant head doesn’t explode before then.”
Canadian activist, author Naomi Klein needs no introduction except to say that her new book, No Is Not Enough, will be available on June 13, 2017. Check out the SEE ALSO link at the end of this post to a brief article by Common Dreams about her book.
Below is an embedded 7:26-minute video of her 4-step “Jam the Trump brand” strategy, along with my transcript. Alternatively, to watch the video on The Intercept’s website, with Klein’s brief introduction, click on the following linked title.
Naomi Klein (NK) — You’ve probably noticed that Donald Trump has turned the presidency into an extension of his corporate brand.
Video clip Trump – “We make the finest wine. And we have Trump steaks.”
NK — And his daughters’ brands…
Video clip Trump – “Go buy vodka stuff”
NK — And his wife’s future plans to be a brand…
Video clip – Trump’s lawyer is charging that it could imperil her “unique, once in a lifetime opportunity to make millions …’
NK — It’s gross. That’s a given. But, for a moment, let’s set aside how craven and seedy it all is and get strategic. If the president is a brand first and a politician a distant second, that gives his opponents all kinds of leverage. Seventeen years ago, I wrote a book called No Logo. It was about how companies and people morphed into super brands they faced new vulnerabilities. Coca Cola, Disney, McDonald’s, these core American brands became powerful precisely because they understood that they were selling ideas instead of products. Because brand-based companies derived their value from being tightly associated with a particular image or big idea, if that image gets sullied, they’re in serious trouble.
We used to call this “culture jamming” or “ad busting”, slipping the marketing power behind the brand to tell a competing story about the sweatshops in which the clothes were made, or the environmental devastation left behind.
And brands can be jammed. You just need to understand the image they’re selling. Now, culture jamming fell out of fashion for awhile but with Trump everything nineties is new again, especially his core brand identity – MONEY.
More specifically, Trump’s brand is being the boss who is so rich he can do whatever he wants. His twisted niche. That’s why the supermodels and Madonna and the endless shots of his private jet, that’s why Trump’s relationship to gold is the inverse of Superman’s relationship to Kryptonite – he crumples if he’s more than three feet away from something really, really shiny.
Now that we know exactly what the brand is, it’s obvious how to mess with it.
STEP 1 – FIRE THE BOSS
Video clip Saturday Night Live – Lampoon of Steven Bannon, in the persona of Death, speaks: “Can I have my desk back?”
Trump – “Yes, of course Mr. President. I’ll go sit at my desk now.”
NK — Now lots of you have already figured this out. If Trump’s personal brand is being the boss, the way to jam that is to make him look like a puppet – this guy’s (Bannon’s) puppet or this guy’s (Pence’s) puppet, or this guy’s (Ryan’s) puppet. It doesn’t really matter who’s yanking the strings as long as the strings are there to be seen.
Video clip – “So why was Bannon demoted? Apparently, Trump had been bothered by the public perception that Bannon is actually the one in charge. Oh my God, Donald, I am so sorry. I never, never would have called Steve Bannon the president if I knew it hurt your feelings so much.”
NK — More please. Anything that chips away at Trump’s carefully nurtured image of being the guy in charge.
STEP 2 — MAKE “RICHIE RICH” LESS RICH
Trump’s brand is all about having bags and bags of money.
Video clip Trump – “I’m really rich.”
NK – Which means that the other way to jam his brand is to make him less rich. Now I don’t mean make him seem less rich. No. I mean actively take money from him be sending his branding empire into crisis.
This can happen. This is already happening. There’s a “Grab Your Wallet” campaign, the clearinghouse for boycotts of Trump’s web of brands. And check this out: it’s not just long ties and short skirts.
Video clip Arnold Schwarzenegger voice over — “I’m back!”
NK – This guy says Celebrity Apprentice tanked because people didn’t want to watch or sponsor a show associated with the President of the United States.
But Trump’s brand fights back hard.
Video clip Stores drop Ivanka — “I’m gonna give a free commercial here, and go buy it today everybody.”
NK – It’s entirely unburdened by ethics. And it may even be working. Ivanka’s company claims that ever since the White House turned itself into the home shopping network Trump’s sales have actually spiked. Which is why it’s time for
STEP 3 – GO AFTER THE BIG FISH
One of the largest sources of revenue for the Trump organization is leasing Trump’s name to real estate companies around the world. Developers pay millions for the supposed privilege of putting the big golden Trump name on the façade of their buildings now. Trump is clearly betting that being president will drive up the price. But what if he’s wrong? What if his brand becomes such trash that developers are willing to pay take it down.
That’s actually already happened in New York City when tenants of Trump Place demanded that their building manager de-Trumpify their home. And this is what happened when the Trump boys went to Vancouver to celebrate the opening of the latest Trump temple. If these kinds of protests keep spreading more developers could decide to de-Trump themselves.
We know how well Trump handled Nordstrom, dropping his daughter’s accessories line. How do you think he’s handled seeing his golden name dropped from giant phallic symbols from Vancouver to Manila? I say let’s find out.
STEP 4 – BE A NUISANCE
Boycotts and sidewalk protests aren’t the only way to wreak havoc with Trump’s businesses. What is a whole lot of people made reservations at Trump hotels and resorts and then all those people changes their minds right before the cancellation deadline?
Now, I’m not suggesting anyone do this, of course. I’m just wondering what would happen. And what if customers who really did want to book reservations had a hard time getting through because so many other people were calling to express their views on Trump’s attacks on the EPA [Energy Protection Agency] or mass detentions of immigrants or losing their health insurance.
Video clip Trump – “So, I never said repeal it and replace it within 64 days of a long time…”
NK – Now if you go this route, please be polite. The person answering the phone almost certainly gets paid less than they deserve and could be secretly trying to form a union. If any of this strikes you as unfair, please consider this – The whole reason we expect politicians to divest from their financial holdings or put them in a real blind trust is because you can influence a sitting politician through their business interests.
Trump has chosen not to divest. So, let’s use that to influence the hell out of him. And let’s put him in some conflicts of interest he hasn’t bargained for.
Believe me, this is Trump’s Achilles heel. Travelling to Washington, having a protest to try to convince Republican senators to develop a conscience – Well, it’s worth a try, I guess.
But systemically eroding the brand of a man who is banking on profiting from his presidency both during and after his term in office, that will most certainly grab the attention of the Grabber in Chief.
Video clip Trump – “Grab ‘em by the pussy. I can do anything.”
NK – The most important thing to remember is this – The essence of good branding is repetition. And the same thing goes for good brand jamming.
So, go forth and repeat thyself – the president isn’t a boss, he’s a puppet. The president is getting less rich by the day. If his brand gets battered enough, Trump just might course-correct on some of his more whacked-out policies. And at the very least, screwing with his central pitch to voters – “Trust me, I’m a successful billionaire” — will hurt Trump’s chances in 2020.
That is, if his giant head doesn’t explode before then.
Have fun out there.
“No Is Not Enough”: Naomi Klein Writing Anti-Trump Blueprint for ‘Shock Resistance’ by Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams, April 5, 2017 — ‘If we want to defend against the likes of Donald Trump […] we must urgently confront and battle racism and misogyny in our culture, in our movements, and in ourselves’ He is the personification of the merger of humans and corporations—a one-man megabrand, with wife and children as spin-off brands.
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