“DRINK ME”

Love, Anger, Euphoria, Depression

Disclaimer:
“Love, Anger, Euphoria, Depression” (mixed media on found objects) is a satirical piece not intended to target any one product or company. It is a parody of marketing techniques, very successful ones. The four bottles were chosen for their shapely beauty and ingenious ad copy. The piece in no way implies that advertising is the only reason for overconsumption of alcohol.

My family has been scarred and made smaller by alcoholism. Mom died too early (at 44) of a slow and torturous death from a cascade of ailments (anorexia, malnutrition, catastrophic accidents) and cancers (Hodgkins Lymphoma, bone, lung, throat and brain cancer.) Alcohol and its consequences destroyed her immune system during her short, young life. Cigarettes played a part by giving her lymphoma a weakened place to spread.

Several years ago, I mounted an exhibit devoted to loss, family and fate. For this piece I decided to go to the object of addiction itself. What I found there was an astonishing work of marketing brilliance. If you go to a store and look closely at the actual products, you’ll see that I’ve reworded each liquor bottle label using the same “spirit” (pun intended) that they use in their advertising copy. I simply changed some of the words but kept the enthusiastic pep talk about what enchantment these products could provide. This is a parody of marketing to be sure, but I’m not sure which is worse… one’s abuse of alcohol or the beauty and acumen with which they are marketed!

What follows are the rewritten labels on each bottle. I could easily have done this with cheeseburgers and advertising instead. The point isn’t to denigrate any one product. I drink alcohol in moderation. This happens to have been the product my mother chose to self-medicate and accidentally destroy herself with. Many other family members were and/or are alcoholic as well. I have to wonder if the allure that alcohol is given in advertising increased their belief in its curative powers. When you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole, words can be powerfully seductive.

“…and round the neck of the bottle was a paper label, with the words `DRINK ME’ beautifully printed on it in large letters.”
ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND
by Lewis Carroll

Love

What gives our Romance its distinctive crave-ability is the psychic mellowing process perfected by Love itself. Before our new Romance is stored in barrels to age, it’s filtered through ten feet of human psyche culled from hopeless romantics everywhere. Psychic mellowing…drop by drop, makes Love’s Romance uncommonly addicting. It hooks more people and takes about twice as long to kick. But we think it’s worth it. As our fans say “Every day we drink it, we’ll drink it another day.”

Anger

This authentic Irish Classic Emotion is made from the finest quality genes in the heartland of Ireland. A subtle blend of fresh Irish Want and mellow Irish Despair produces a memorable emotion and experience. To enjoy it at its best, store for six months or more and when opened, share it with your entire family. Enjoy it straight up, with Depression, or in Solitude.

Euphoria

The legend began over 100 years ago in New Orleans when it was discovered that this smoothest of spirits could instantly dispel boredom, anguish and despair. Over the years its reputation and popularity spread, establishing it as part of America’s need for escape. Today, America’s “take it easy drink” is enjoyed straight, on the rocks or mixed with your favorite defense mechanism.

Depression

Depression is the darkest spirit produced by the human mind. Ever ready to take over in times of stress, this spirit has been passed down for centuries, from generation to generation, and remains as rich and strongly felt today as it was for your great-grandfather. It is best appreciated after a hard day at the office, or maybe when unexpected guests arrive. It’s smooth, dark mood is guaranteed to outlast all others.

____________________________________________________

Inspiration for this piece is from the Brazilian poem “Residue” by Carlos Drummond de Andrade (1902-1987) –translated by Mark Strand. An excerpt…

And from everything a little remains.
Oh, open the bottles of lotion
and smooth
the cruel, unbearable odor of memory.

Advertisements

10 thoughts on ““DRINK ME”

  1. Oh this is just so ace! I love the way you highlight the subtlety of the advertising and branding by being just as subtle. Bravo 🙂

  2. Painful, funny and powerful. I think there are a lot of thoughtful folks like you who have the same ambivalence towards marketing substances that are enjoyed by some but also do quite a bit of harm to others. In one way or another, we’re all at war with the folks who want to influence us. A piece like this is a good way to beef up the defenses.

  3. Thanks Fred.

    I want to point out that it’s only partly that this product, used to excess, can kill you, because there are many substances that are just as lethal in large doses.

    My issue with marketing is that it creates desire in me for things I don’t need, and has my whole life. I wish at my age I had every dime back I spent on things that I didn’t know I needed, but marketing (and society’s adherence to norms) insisted I couldn’t do without. Many things I never got but remained wistful about. I saw them (unconsciously) as part of “living a normal life, being one of the crowd” – belonging! Marketing uses the connection between us and belonging, being normal, or even superior, to get us to buy. I wish I had been able to see that before this late date that’s all.

  4. Oh, and I love the statement you made “we’re all at war with the folks who want to influence us” because it’s also true that everywhere there is someone telling us how to live our lives – in detail! So instead of telling us to buy a product, they’re telling us to “buy in” to their belief system.

    Where do we run? We have to become adept at screening, constantly, or we become sheep.

  5. @mosaicmoods I have a few dimes I would like back myself. Part of the trick in defending yourself from ‘tricky’ marketing or even a ‘tricky’ friend is being aware of how people can take advantage of unconscious emotions to drive behavior. A service your art here today definitely provides!

  6. Thanks Fred. I’m 56, so I feel behind the curve on learning how not to be tricked into buying in (corporate cubicle, 18 years) or buying period! I am more aware now but can’t get back all those years and all that money! Funny, I started out living the hippie lifestyle “off the grid” in the 70s. Maybe that’s how the greedy 80s got a hold on me!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s