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!
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
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
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
(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
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.