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• The dark side of marketing a culture: The Tetley Tea Folk & Keebler Elves crisis

January 2, 2009 1 comment


The following is a reprint of the Ad Nauseam column which appeared in the December 30, 2008 edition of the Metaverse Messenger, which, in turn, was a reworking of an old column from the early ’90s.


 

A vacation for him -- but a national disaster for the Keebler elves

A vacation for him -- but a national disaster for the Keebler elves

 

While marketing is important, we should always keep in mind its cost to culture. News shows are cluttered with spots which amount to little more than promotions of consumer goods; snack food advertisement has been credited with the increase of obesity among children; and educational institutes have find themselves engaging in various degrees of product placement in return for funds.

But nowhere is the influence of marketing felt stronger than when the commodity being marketed is the culture itself. This can clearly be seen in the case studies of two separate cultures which, as a marketing device, turned to their own heritage.

Admittedly, tea has always played a large and important role in our culture,” says Earl Bergamot, one of the Tetley Tea Folk’s most prominent citizens, “but over the last few decades it has grown out of all proportion. The only things tourists are interested in these days are the tea-related items: handcrafted tea-pots, coasters, strainers — that sort of thing. Sometimes they’ll pick up a couple of the ankle bells we wear for traditional dances, but only because they’ve seen us dancing on TV.” Read more…

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Categories: satire