Steve Wiley: What to Do When Your Kids Become Corporate Branding Machines
Steve Wiley is Jackalope Ranch's Parent Hood. He's a slightly unorthodox father of five who will weigh in weekly with his mildly rebellious views and observations. If you'd like to see how he came to write this column, watch the intro video. This week, he expresses frustration with his children being corporate branding machines
If you know me from my old days in the indie record store business, then you know I'm pretty feisty about supporting independent businesses (among other things). My store was a charter member of Local First Arizona. We were proud members of The Coalition of Independent Music Stores. I've called out sell-out artists like U2, Bob Dylan, and The Eagles. I've harassed every major record label on Earth. I've even openly challenged my own peer group. All in the name of maintaining independence and/or supporting the indies that do.
So don't think for one minute my darling children haven't heard plenty on the importance of shopping local. But so far I'm losing the war. I'm getting my ass kicked by shoe companies. I'm being invaded by corporate entertainment hacks. I'm watching my kids cozy up with one sleazy giant after another.
What's an indie dad to do?
Mind If We Put Our Logo on Your Kid?
Admittedly, I wasn't concerned about any of this when I was a kid. But corporate branding is a whole new ballgame in the 21st century . . . and the playing field is my kids.
My eyes were originally opened by a Canadian writer named Naomi Klein and her amazing book No Logo (there is a phenomenal recap video above, check it out). It explains in great detail the art and motivation of branding, and how it affects each of us in our community (not to mention humans in deplorable factory conditions all of the world).
I've never looked at the world the same since. (Wow, as a writer, it would be pretty cool to have that affect on just one person).
I've eliminated my support of a number of giant retailers completely (the all-time evil empire, Walmart, was first to go, in 1992), and I'm constantly doing my best to stay indie.
Hopefully, you've heard the indie support cry from others. There are tons of small businesses and valiant organizations out there doing their best to get the message out.
But in spite of it all, it sure is an uphill battle.