Beauty, Beasts & Bookworms

Dear buyers,

All the while long, you have been patient with my generous sharing of biased opinions about consumerism. So I thought, why not take a break from hearing about what I have to say, instead let’s hear about what my friends have to say.  So I rounded a few of them bookworms and gave them this question, What attracts you to buy a book? Let’s find out if they are susceptible to the aesthetics.

Disclaimer: This video contains shaky footages, too many closeups, unsynced audio, non-professional video editing, and perhaps bad influence. Watch at your own risk.

Conclusion, even the intellectual and academic bookworms all know and conform to consumerism, one cover or another.

The End,

Regret nothing! Gimme pretty book covers!



The Starbucks Experience

Dear buyers,

In these last 2 months of my undergraduate life, I could say for certain that the only thing keeping me alive (and sufficiently sane to continue writing) is my ambrosia, COFFEE! This nectar from the study gods helps get me outta bed and keep outta bed. So of course, I’d have to dedicate at least one post as a form of high reverence to this liquid gold. A no-brainer, the coffee brand up for scrutiny today is the infamous STARBUCKS.

Here’s a little infographic about the global brand I’d had a bit of fun whipping up:


Now for some deeper thoughts, how did selling coffee in a paper/plastic cup manage all these commercialistic accomplishments it has today (like the few from the above)? Simply, branding. According to an interview with Stanley Hainsworth, who was vice president global creative at Starbucks, he defined ‘brand’ as being ‘an entity that engenders an emotional connection with a consumer’. And how did Starbucks do that? Not only were they selling the commodity, they attached an experience to consuming coffee. Every decision that Starbucks has made was a conscious strategy towards providing their consumers that experience, this includes the music that their stores would play, the design layout of the space, pieces of furniture, the decor, the color and size of your cup, wifi access etc. The brand has us all engaged (later addicted) through our 5 senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. The bottom line being: Starbucks, through providing their customers these experiences, had successfully created a communal ‘third-place’, albeit a capitalistic one.

So the next time you visit Starbucks, perhaps stick around the store a bit longer, get your money’s worth of that Starbucks experience.

Breaking for coffee,

Regret getting my Starbucks using drive through.


The Cultural iCon

Dear buyers,

‘Tis the most wonderful time of the year! And no amount of physical and Maria-from-West-Side-Story-GIF twirls would suffice in expressing my innermost childlike joy. For it comes the time to welcome a new commodity into my life. Oh, the pleasures of consumerism! And if you are a fellow subscriber to the digital world of disposable technology (like yours truly), this escapade that I’m about to recount will ring true and hopefully, resonate.

Back to my narrative… After 5 long years of loyal service, my Samsung Note 2 had arrived at its ripe old age suited for the shelves. How do I know, you ask? Apart from the fact that it switches itself off on a whim and has a response time of somewhere between forever to never, it has been challenging due to its inability to update apps with a measly storage of 8GB. And so for the past few days, I’ve been dedicating quality dissertation-writing-time to googling and comparing phone specs like how a rational prospective consumer would.

AS IF. Who am I kidding? I have been anything (prejudiced and biased) but rational. Such preposterous behaviours include spending almost 2 hours watching the entire YouTube playlist of iPhone advertisements (among other things in that black hole of moving images). But something did prove intellectually fruitful because while I was consuming Apple propaganda, I begin to question my preference: Why an iPhone?

With a little scholarly reading to put my thoughts in perspective, I have reached an ‘aha’ moment in my little digital dilemma. The answer was simple: iPhone, other than a powerful consumer good is as well a powerful cultural icon. This little piece of 5.5-inch technology is ultimately empowered because society attaches cultural meanings to it.

Speaking for my own, the Apple brand was always representational of the American ideal in digital technology. Darn you, product placement in most American movies and TV series! I suppose it does make the technology that much more desirable when Elle Woods flaunts hers in a sea of monotonous black slabs of plastic and metal (obviously referring to my younger days when I thought vibrant orange was desirable).

Besides, the iPhone is also what I consider as the status symbol of the century. One has got to be loaded (or have loaded, pampering parents) to ride this constantly renewing wave of iPhones every new year. Not to mention, there is the need for youths to identify (of which I am likewise guilty). Wanna be a Techie? Get an iPhone. Boho-chic? iPhone. Hipster? iPhone. You get the picture. If you really think about it, there is NO homage to originality. How are you different from the other youth subcultures? Is not the unique identification what we’re striving for?

But sadly, despite my little critiques, my desire to be in trend is too strong to resist. You have to understand, this is the golden opportunity to up my photography game with iPhone’s Live Photos. To boot, the rose gold option does make it all the more aesthetically tempting.

Well, the only thing standing in between dream and reality is for the already-financially-prudent me to skimp on other expenditures, just to save enough for a consumer good that has an expiry date for trendiness. Ten points for American cultural imperialism, zero for me.

Switching off,

Will regret spending that money in another 5 years.