Sunday, August 21, 2011

Thinking Locally, Fighting Globally

"Just Do It"
Photo by Samuel Aranda  for The New York Times
With events in Libya seemingly coming to a conclusion, I happened upon the NY Times Lens blog and looked back at six months of events in that country. A couple of images stood out. They referred to a larger identity, one beyond a tribal or Libyan or African identity. For better or worse, global brands have infiltrated even the revolution. The images tell the story.

Along with that, the ad campaigns, the slogans, for some of these iconic brands, how they intersect the living history we are witnessing before our screens and our eyes. Often not the slogan that fits, in this insurrection, but a moment to think about those things and larger issues.

"The Power of Dreams" (Honda ad slogan)  Teenager with rocket launcher
photo by Samuel Aranda for The New York Times
The Twitterverse is unfolding the drama in Tripoli, history before the ink dries, if we still used ink. But there is a larger order to some of this, and that has been lobbying for my attention this day.

While I still wonder what the Italian wine brand is becoming, perhaps a little revolution in Italy is also in play. Maybe not as dramatic as Libya or Egypt or Syria, and surely not as critical for humankind. But every little action drives this planet towards a greater self realization, and my focus being Italy and Italian wine, forgive me if I use the events of the day to reflect upon my now 30 year mission.

America is still very centered upon itself. The world outside our borders doesn’t seem to have much impact for most Americans, seemingly. But as anyone who looks at the bottom of a plate or inside a cotton shirt knows, we are ever more interdependent upon each other in the world for our global well being. The large global brands know this and they drive much of the energy for that message, because it suits their bottom line. Honda wants more Hondas on the road. Nike wants a pair on every foot. Pepsi battles with Coke every minute of every day for world domination.

"Image is everything"  (Canon ad slogan) A girl, an assault rifle and a digital pose
Photo by Hassan Ammar Associated Press
Imagine if the Italian wine brands could wrap their minds around this and how would it manifest? Would those lousy websites magically disappear? Would an Italian on vacation return their email sooner, knowing the rest of the world has such pent up demand for their product? Would it really change their behavior? And the largest question of all, would it really matter?

I truly understand the Italian mentality. And for better or worse, I understand the American one too. I often feel stuck in the middle. But in the end I am an American. This is my place. For now, or until some unlikely candidate crawls up to the top for their prize. Canada is tempting. Italy, for a month or two, but not for the rest of my life. No, I am a missionary - the boats were burned - there is no going back.

After all, this is where revolution was born. This is where the action is.

"Every Pepsi Refreshes The World"  (Pepsi ad slogan) molotov cocktails
                   Photo by Ed Ou for The New York Times


Thomas said...

Ah yes, but with globalization also comes loss--the loss of communal value and of insular survival instincts that turn us over to powers rather than have us develop our own powers, not to mention that globalization creates demand for continued population growth; someone has to buy all those products.

The answer will come when humans are forced to perform their single truly collective activity: on a prescribed day each year, those in the interior will fold their arms and push out inn unison, so that those on the coasts are pushed into the sea, to make room for the next crop. ;)

gsricks said...

Alfonso, you have an artist's eye for detail.

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