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Resistance- Culture Jamming
Imagine traveling with your family to a foreign country as most Americans do in today's time, we’ll say China to keep it universal. You and your loved ones are embracing the sights, and just like the other thousands of tourists you are Instagramming, Snapchatting, Facebooking everything you see. The experience is so wonderful and nothing can go wrong. That is- until you first meal is prepared. Chinese food in America has not prepared for you for the true Asian cuisine. Distraught, your family leaves. Arguing immense between everyone walking down foreign streets while you everyone is trying to remember where you are. Stomachs are throbbing and after a special day all hope is lost, that is until you make a turn and see the trademark Golden Arches of a McDonalds. Across the street, the world’s biggest Starbucks with a Kentucky Fried Chicken in view. A sigh of relief is brought upon every family member and all hope is restored. And a special thank you should go to globalization.
Globalization is mainly seen as the United States implementing our traditions, businesses and culture on other countries. Which is not entirely wrong. In the late 20th century, global dominance by companies such as Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Nike, etc. have become symbols of US capitalism across the world. Companies such as Apple and Starbucks have just recently joined the party and are catching up to the top brands. Although the US influence seems to be welcomed across the globe, it was not always that simple. Protests against these large brands have dated back since they first became worldwide. This eventually brought about resistance brands and culture jamming.
Resistance brands are not something US may be too familiar with even though we come into contact with them every time we go into the store. Resistance brands are essentially knock off brands, but are made to rival big companies not to provide a cheaper alternative. One of the most famous resistance brands was released in 2002 in France, Mecca Cola (See Figure B). The drink had very similar feature to its rival Coca-Cola, red label and dark liquid, with the slogan drink for commitment in Arabic. This brand of soft drink is "pro-Muslim." It gave it's European drinkers hope and a way of escaping the "oppression" from the US capitalism. Other way of protest was culture jamming, or tactics used to disrupt the message these big companies were trying to convey. For example this could be like Figure C, McDonald's is known for their golden arches and the famous catchy slogan “I’m loving it.” In this culture jamming image, the message being sent is that the food served is unhealthy, and you will gain weight. The goal for these images is to make the consumer think as negatively about the company as possible. In the book “No Logo,” Naomi Klein describes the perfect culture jam. “The most sophisticated culture jams are not stand-alone ad parodies but interceptions – counter-messages that hack into a corporation’s own method of communication to send a message starkly at odds with the one that was intended.”
Companies had to make significant moves to avoid this constant backlash. Although they realized they could not please everybody, they had to adjust their method of approach to foreign companies. Now, these companies have adjusted their menus according the country and the culture they serve in. In most cases, the consumer will be able to get the traditional meals. However, places like McDonald's offers McNoodles in China, and Coca-Cola adjusts their flavor by region. These attempts have lessened the urge for the rival brands, but there will always be a foreign company trying to overrun an American business in their homeland.