For more information about Royal Holloway, please see this promotional video. To see a promotional video for the MA Consumption, Markets & Culture see here. To see a promotional video for the Royal Holloway School of Management, click here.

For more information about the Royal Holloway MA Marketing and MA Consumption, Culture & Marketing and the application process see here.

To get an understanding of the unique values that underly the MA Marketing and MA Consumption, Culture & Marketing programme please read these blog posts: Value of Scholarly Values, Importance of Reading and Morris Holbrook and Business Interest in Education.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Starbucks's Faux Friendship- A Fie on it I Say

(Picture kindly borrowed from BBC News website)

Starbucks, formerly purveyor of artisan coffee to the cognoscenti, and latterly global brand Leviathan, now plans to make you tell them your first name as a condition of taking your order (see my comments in this BBC News article ). That’s so they can call you by your name, and not your choice of coffee, when the drink is ready. Hearing ‘Launcelot’ or ‘Sidneeeey’ booming across a crowded cafe instead of ‘skinny latte’ is then supposed to so endear you to the barrista and the brand that you’ll return on the morrow for some more of this ersatz intimacy.

Really? (Ahem: cue grumpy rant). Isn’t this another example of our very identity being taken from us to be exploited by the Panoptic forces of marketing? What’s wrong with calling me ‘Sir’ in exchange for my money? Is keeping a polite distance now anathema to the neo-liberal model? Are we all so lonely that we yearn for a stranger to call us by our name? Or is the one-to-one marketing ideal simply the misguided result of marketing’s metaphor mangling obsession with ‘relationships’? Do Starbucks want to call me by name because marketing is incapable of deconstructing itself?

Where else could this bogus bonhomie lead? What of our right to sit in silent anonymity in a taxi? Or will the driver insist on knowing our name so it becomes impossible for us to resist his leaden attempts at conversation? “Going somewhere interesting mate?” is easily met with a “Mind your own business my good man and kindly drive your offfensively smelling vehicle where I bid.” “Going somewhere interesting Chris?” is impossible to evade. “Well, yes, actually I’m going to the doctor for a prostate examination. Happy now?” Are we to be forced to divulge our name to the bus driver so he can bid us a ‘Byyeeee Paul’ as we alight his cheery charabanc? Must we return the courtesy when the inspector informs us that we do indeed have the correct train ticket for the journey so he won’t have to fine us hundreds of pounds on this occasion? “Yes, that’s the right ticket Matthew. I don’t have to have you thrown off the train today”. “Why, thank you James, or shall I call you Jim?“

God forbid. A fie on this faux friendship I say. Give me back my dignity and leave me alone. We already have a world of excessively marketized relationships. Do we really have to have to pretend to be friends as well? The marketing Panopticon already has my bank account details, home address, date of birth, shoe size, my location, my website preferences, my friends’ names, my family photographs, my favourite music, my favourite books, my work history, shopping history, qualifications, recommendations, my accumulated Tweets, statuses and other indiscretions. It already pesters me with one-to-one communications that are supposed to be ingratiating but succeed only in beng insulting because their one-dimensional caricature of me supposes that my life is an endless repetition of the same dreary 'preferences'. I'm a quirky, capricious and unstable consumer- model that you segment modelling jerks. And please, let me keep my name for heaven's sake.

But if you do insist on buying into the Starbucks fake name game, I like this one I saw on a comment thread somewhere: "My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the armies of the North, loyal servant to the true emperor, husband to a murdered wife, and I will have my skinny mocha with a marshmallow, in this life or the next!"

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