“Young people are “threatened . . . by the evil use of advertising techniques that stimulate the natural inclination to avoid hard work by promising the immediate satisfaction of every desire.”
- Pope John Paul II, quoted in Eric Clark, The Want Makers: Inside the World of Advertising, 1988, New York: Penguin Books, p. 371.
Every solid brand name is built on its own unique combination of units called “branding elements”. Taglines, celebrity spokespeople, flashy animations and catchy jingles all fall under that umbrella, but the most powerful branding element a product can have is its logo. The best are immediately recognizable and, when obscenely excessive media money is spent in placement, they lease and mortgage every possible space in our daily lives.
Countless hours and dollars are spent tweaking, refining and testing logos in hopes that they will resonate powerfully and memorably with the American consumer. Every manufacturer wants their brand to become a household name, so warm and fuzzy that Ma, Pa and the kids will want to snuggle up to it at night and wake in its embrace every morning. After all, there’s nothing like Folger’s in your cup. Or so I’ve been told.
“Advertising is only evil when it advertises evil things.”
- David Ogilvy, Ogilvy on Advertising (1985), New York: Vintage Books, p. 207.
Allan D. Hasty has stumbled upon and researched a surreptitious misuse of some of America’s most beloved logos by an unlikely industry: the drug trade. Indeed, the same logos that appear in the media selling the products that are in our everyday lives also pepper the variously-sized drug baggies that litter American streets. Cute animals, candy graphics and superheroes have all been co-opted to promote and sell drugs. The kind that’ll have you feeling as good as you did when you were a kid. Or so I’ve been told.
Interestingly, Hasty’s paintings neither condemn nor condone the appropriations. Presented large scale, they become a celebration of the marks themselves and an examination of the degradation they endure in their crude printing processes. Collecting and categorizing these tiny plastic baggies has been a focus of his for some years now, originally appearing as marred, distressed photographs. But recently, the artist has chosen to present the works with no manipulation, he simply paints them “as is” and in doing so they become emblematic of rotting corporate ideals, consumer complicity and, at a much lower, more demonic level, an attempt by drug dealers to brand and market their super-strong-but-won’t-make-you-paranoid Thai stick, their Grade-A Columbian, numb-your-gums Cocaine or the mind blowing, you’ll-only-need-to-take-one-of-these-and–you-won’t-have-a-black-Tuesday-Louis-Vuitton ecstacy tab. Or so I’ve been told.
“So sweet, you make my mouth water.”
- Annabelle Lwin, Bow Wow Wow
Bill Previdi – Curator, NYC
< >click image to enlarge
I Want Candy
July 1 - August 15, 2008
Allan D. Hasty