Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Global Genie

Discussion of the good and evil of global brands seems to be a relatively recent phenomenon, arising, I would guess, about 15 years ago in the wake of "No Logo".

So I was amused to read one character's rather zealous viewpoint in a much older novel: “Now what you need in this little old island, and what is needed in all the countries of Europe west of the so-called Iron Curtain, and even more I imagine…in all the countries of Europe east of the so-called Iron Curtain as well as in the backward lands of the Far East and the backward lands of Africa, is some greater precognition of and practice of (but practice cannot come without knowledge) our American way of living. I should like to see a bottle of Coca Cola on every table in England, on every table in France…When I say a bottle of Coca Cola I mean it metaphorically speaking, I mean it as an outward and visible sign of something inward and spiritual, I mean it as if each Coca Cola bottle contained a djinn, and as if that djinn was our great American civilization ready to spring out of each bottle and cover the whole global universe with its great wide wings.”

The novel is Nancy Mitford's "The Blessing" from 1951, a wonderful study of culture-clash, often overlooked for her more famous works. The character is the superbly verbose Hector Dexter, who I am sure would be one of the top bananas at P&G if he was around in the 21st Century.

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