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What The Hell Does "Swoosh" Mean?
by Bayard Russell

Every time I look around I see more and more corporate logos on everything.  Well, not every time I look around;  lately when I look around I see more and more 'tankinis,' but anyway...  Corporate logos are everywhere, whether it's placed on billboards, printed on junk mail, or flashed at us while we watch movies and television shows ("Oh look, Willie Mays is chugging down a Coors Light").  We're pummeled from all sides with corporate logos;  the suckers must breed like rabbits.  But I'm not surprised at the ubiquity of advertising in our culture;  in the cutthroat fight for our wallets, every company's going to want name recognition,  so they're going to try to get their logos flashed in our faces in every way possible like boobies in a strip club, in hopes that we connect it up to the product when we go shopping.  This is how name-brand marketing works.  What surprises me is how well it's worked.

Consider the phenomenon of name brand apparel.  It would make sense that someone would wear a complementary t-shirt with the company logo on it, cause hey, free t-shirt.  But then we see people liking the company so much that they pay a premium to buy clothing with the company logo plastered over the front.  People pay a company money to advertise for them!  What gives?

I'm the wrong person to ask this question.  I went a Nike retail outlet recently, and I actually saw a few shirts I might like to wear, if that goddamned "swoosh" wasn't plastered on the front.  What the hell does "swoosh" mean?  I suppose it's trying to call up the concept of moving really fast ('swoosh,' "Wow, he ran buy us so fast that we heard the wind whistle as he passed,") or making a basket ('swoosh,' "Another three-pointer for my Dad's Club team,"), but all I can think about is I've got this goddamned check mark silk-screened on what could have been a nice-looking  t-shirt.

And don't even get me started on the Adidas symbol.  Is that some sort of cybernetic foot or something?

So when did we get it into our heads that paying them to wear their advertising was a cool thing to do?  Or rather, how did they get it into our heads?  Discounting the usual alien-abduction theories, I would guess that these marketers are more sophisticated than I give them credit for.  For centuries advertisers have been making empty promises that their product will vastly improve our lives to try to make the sale.  The new marketing is more subtle, though.  Our defenses are alert nowadays for outright claims that a product will improve your life, but when we see a commercial that just shows a group of people enjoying themselves immensely while using the product, our defenses are lowered because we're not aware that any claims are being made.  I'm not even sure that we're fully aware of how this stuff is affecting us.  The real battle for our wallets is being fought below the surface.

The funny thing is, if we're convinced that something has value, then in some sense it does.  If we're convinced that we would be happier if we owned some product and we go ahead and purchase it, we end up being happier for a time for having acquired it.  It's a placebo affect, and a pretty good one.  On the other hand, if any of these things truly made us happy, we wouldn't constantly be left wanting more.  I would bet that a company would rather have a repeat customer than a satisfied one.

Occassionally I notice how the ubiquitous advertising is getting to me, and it weirds me out.  Sometimes I'll have this urge to buy something that I know I don't really like, like a Big Mac or any clothing from The Gap, and I can't figure out why I would want it so badly, but I'll go ahead and buy something just so it'll stop bugging me.  I wonder, did I get brainwashed today when I wasn't paying attention?  Why do I feel this urge to buy shit that I hate?  Where did these cravings come from?

(As I write this, I keep on thinking of the song, "Constant Craving," by K.D. Lang.  Don't you wish you could listen to that right now?  The song's on her CD, "All You Can Eat," which retails for only $13.99 at most retail outlets.  Did you know that CDs are cheaper to manufacture than records?)

Hold on, I'm getting a message beamed in from the Mother Ship...

What was I talking about?  I can't seem to remember...  Man it's tough to write a complete thought out when you have ADD.  Ah yes...  No wait... Damn, I forgot again.  I can't concentrate, all I can think about is having a tasty Zima malt beverage right about now.  Word on the street is that it's a few degrees cooler.  I wonder if Zima sells t-shirts.

My bet is yes, yes they do.