Category Archives: Branding

1000 Words: Watch Your Wallet

I ought to take up residence in a cave in the Himalayas because, as this global communications colossus has revealed lo these many years, I fancy myself a philosopher. A presumption the likes of Bertrand Russell and George Carlin would probably sneer at.

In any case, here’s another of my philosophical nuggets, adding to a list that has been ignored spectacularly by those who run this mad world:

Every single group activity contrived by human beings has been riven, at one point or another, by corruption.

Corruption must be in our blood, or our genes, or our collective psyche. Whatever. The best of us suppress the urge to swipe, palm, pocket, extort, embezzle, armed stickup, or otherwise take that which is not ours. The worst of us make an art and/or a science of thievery. The residents and government of this holy land, for instance, actually stole an entire continent, for chrissakes, from the people who lived here in the year 1491. The Roman Catholic Church, for another instance, established the globe’s most powerful and richest empire, in Europe, one that lasted some 800 years. In neither case did the leaders of those titanic realms ask politely of whomever stood in their way permission to rob them.

At the same time, both institutions did wonderful things like run hospitals, feed the hungry, guarantee rights by law, battle tyranny, fly to the Moon, comfort the sick, create vaccines that wiped out deadly diseases, and preached to its constituents to generally avoid robbing others blind.

I state this for the simple reason that every time one association, government, corporate board, club, or another is upended by a corruption scandal, we gasp and wring our hands as if we’re shocked such a thing can happen. It not only can, it does. Regularly.

As long as you buy into my philosophy, you won’t be aghast next time you hear that a senator, a cleric, a chief executive, a physician, a researcher, a teacher, a Boy Scout, or a poet gets caught with her or his hand in somebody else’s pocket.

Trust me, you’ll live a happier life.

And, by the way, “trust me” is often the first thing somebody says when planning to, or is in the process of, sticking their hand into your pocket.

The legendary actor Emma Thompson is right. That new, all-purpose term for artistic photos, words, melodies, movies, ideas, and anything else concocted in the imagination of human beings — content — stinks to high heaven. Says Thompson, via Variety, “To hear people talk about ‘content’ makes me feel like the stuffing inside a sofa cushion.”

Thompson As Content.

How about another term just as bad as content? Okay, branding.

Content creators brand themselves, acc’d’g to biz school “wisdom.” Kids in Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, the scuttlebutt goes, are told to answer the question, “What is your brand?” their first week in class.

Eighteen-year-olds need a brand? Half to three quarters of them don’t even know how to look both ways before crossing the street.

My brand is De Cecco. I love the long-time pasta-maker’s No. 24 rigatoni. It’s big and thick and floppy and filling.

My Brand.

Then again, I don’t think that’s what the biz school dons are rumored to be getting at.

This stuff is here with us to stay, apparently. The BBC reports Southeast Technical University in Carlow, Ireland is now offering a bachelor of arts degree in Content Creation. Not, as Emma Thmpson fears, the manufacture and use of sofa cushion stuffing but, as the BBC story explains,  “Dr (Eleanor) O’Leary said graduates of the course will be equipped to either work for themselves as a self-employed influencer or in creating content for a company or organisation.”

Duh, whut?

Consider me ignorant in this field. Happily, proudly ignorant.

Googling around to dig up dope on this whole influencer racket, I found there are actually numeric formulas that define levels of…, well, influence. They are:

  • 1000-10,000 followers — nano influencer
  • 10,000-50,000 followers — micro influencer
  • 50,000-500,000 followers — mid-tier influencer
  • 500,000-1,000,000 followers — macro influencer
  • 1,000,000-5,000,000 followers — mega influencer
  • +5,000,000 followers — celebrity influencer

Khaby Lame, Tik Tok’s Biggest Influencer in 2023, With 80 Million Followers.

Judging by this global communications colossus’s numbers, I’m so far beneath being a nano-influencer that I’m virtually non-existent. I’m the breeze generated by a butterfly’s wing. Just the way I like it.

My Clay County farmer pal, Eli, and I meet every Friday afternoon to play chess at Hopscotch. We are what I call chess street fighters. We know nothing about established strategies, the philosophies of the Grand Masters, or even basic openings. In fact, we’ve pledged to each other not to read chess books so we can continue our pleasant little weekly competition in blissful chess ignorance.

One day a guy watched Eli paddle me and then asked if he could play. Since Eli’d just won, he took the new guy on. This fellow proceeded to carve Eli up like a Thanksgiving turkey. The new guy, a professor in IU’s African American and African Diaspora Studies, named Quito (he’s since left IU for other opportunities), clearly had been playing for a zillion years and had read all the important books on the game. As I watched him toy with Eli, I was silently thankful for losing the previous game, seeing as how I dodged being humiliated.

Anyway, Eli and I will be taking the next month or so off because it’s harvest season. Eli’ll be ensconced in the cab of his family’s big tractor, scooping up semi-trailers-full of corn and soy beans.

Meanwhile, my conversation with labor historian Joe Varga airs this afternoon on Big Talk at 5:30 on WFHB, 91.3 FM. The podcast posts at 6:00pm on Joe and I both are union veterans whose daddy-o’s also were union guys. We gabbed so long I had to turn the chat into a two-parter, the second half airing next week, same time, same station

The week after that, I’ll chat with sex researcher Debby Herbenick of the Kinsey Institute. (Note to self: I mispronounced the word clitoris during the recording, so I’ll have to dub in the proper pronunciation before it airs.)

Herbenick (L) & Varga