AMY GOODMAN: Naomi Klein, I wanted to talk specifically about the kind of branding that you begin your introduction with in No Logo at Ten, how branding has changed. Give us some specifics.
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I mean, it's-it always-branding is expert at absorbing its opposition. So, I gave a couple of examples of companies that had gone "no logo," an example of Absolut vodka taking their label, their logo, off the bottle. And Starbucks opened, interestingly in Seattle, a store without their brand on it at all. They're trying to make their brand disappear. So, you have this evolution in corporate branding.
But, what I decided to focus on is not how corporate-the latest gimmicks and techniques of corporate branding, but, rather, how politicians were-and, indeed, how government has absorbed the techniques honed by the corporations in the '90s in creating and selling their super brands. And now they're being used by political parties, by politicians really, to sell themselves.
And I'm afraid, I think, that that's where Obama fits in, that he really is a super brand on line with many of the companies that I discuss in No Logo. And he has many of the same problems as the companies that I discuss in No Logo, like Nike and Apple and all of these-Starbucks-all of these, sort of 1990s, sort of, lifestyle brands that co-opted many of the, you know-the iconography of the transformative political movements like the civil rights movement, the women's movement. And that was really the hallmark of 1990s branding.
One of the things in this-you know, a large part what I write about in No Logo is the absorption of these political movements into the world of marketing. And, you know, the first time I saw the "Yes, We Can" video that was produced by Will.i.am, my first thought was, you know, "Wow. A politician has finally produced an ad as good as Nike that plays on our, sort of, faded memories of a more idealistic era, but, yet, doesn't quite say anything." We think we hear the message we want to hear, but if you really parse it, the promises aren't there, it's really the emotions.
And, you know, I think that that explains in some sense the paralysis in progressive movements in the United States where we think, Obama stands for something because we-our emotions were activated on these issues, but we don't really have much to hold him to because, in fact, if you look at what he said during the campaign, like any good super brand, like any good marketer, he made sure not to promise too much, so that he couldn't be held to it.
Afghanistan is a very strong example, Amy. I mean, it's hard to build the case that Obama is breaking a campaign promise when, in fact, this-he is doing what he said he would do during the campaign, even if he made us think that he was a pro-peace candidate, even if he used the iconography, the imagery of the peace movement, even if he, you know-it's the same thing with labor. "Sí se puede. Yes we can." This is the imagery of, this is the slogan of the farm workers. Even, you know, Obama's-you know, the famous poster, you know, this is like the poster of Ché, but this isn't a real social movement because it never made those transformative demands.
And that's what social movements have to do. We have to get back to basics, Amy. And we'll see it in Copenhagen.
I think Naomi nails it precisely, but there's something more worth adding. The results of social protest movements are always far more popular than the movements themselves. This is just a flat-out historical fact. You can see it in polling questions that ask about public attitudes, such as: