Saturday, December 24, 2011

An Analysis of the Starbucks Christmas Pastry Packaging

This morning, Christmas Eve morning, I went to Starbucks and ordered a coffee and a blueberry scone. As I was eating my scone, I began staring at the packaging that it came in. It looked like this:

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For some reason, that nutcracker guy looked surprisingly familiar. Suddenly I realized, that's Guy Fawkes, the English revolutionary whose mask has become a symbol of the Occupy movement, like this:

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It got me thinking, why would Starbucks, a huge corporation, use an image that so closely resembles the symbol of an anti-corporate movement? And then it hit me. They are commodifying the rebellion. They are re-purposing a symbol of rebellion, and using it for capitalist purposes. You may argue that the resemblance is purely accidental. But I know enough about corporate advertising and marketing to know that NOTHING they do is accidental.

It's also interesting that the Guy Fawkes character on the Starbucks packaging is winking at us, as if to say, "Get it?"

The text is also interesting. It says, "Let's remember why we go together so well." Guy Fawkes is handing a nut to a squirrel. Why would a squirrel need a nutcracker? Its teeth do the job just fine. Perhaps the text is suggesting that, while we do not need corporations to do everything for us, we'd rather they did. The packaging is using the spirit of "goodwill" of Christmas to send a complex message about American apathy and complicity in corporate culture.

The Guy Fawkes/Nutcracker represents the benevolent corporation, and we are the squirrels, taking what they give us, too lazy to do for ourselves what the corporations have been doing for us for years. Merry Christmas.

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