January 2, 2008

Our Manifesto

From 1992 to 2004, "We eat what we like" was the featured tagline in advertising for Kellogg's Apple Jacks cereal. The standard set-up for the commercials opened with a group of kids eating Apple Jacks, only to have their taste for the cereal questioned by an adult or dubious peer - due to the fact that it "doesn't taste like apples". Unwilling (or unable) to provide reason for their cereal preference, the kids either find a way around answering the question (such as shifting focus to a Dad's golf attire), or simply refuse to provide an answer beyond "we just do". The commercials close with a chorus of children's voices shouting, "We eat what we like!"

Apple Jacks Commercial, 1998

While it may be a bit Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism to suggest that advertising copywriters are often the most adept at capturing and distilling (or is it creating?) zeitgeist, the Apple Jacks tagline is a remarkably succinct, evocative portrait of late 20th century American consumer society. Part of a contemporary trend in advertising aimed at children, the theme/mission of these commercials is the empowerment of the child qua consumer. Unlike earlier advertising, (see 1988 Apple Jacks commercial) these commercials set the preferences of the child in direct opposition to those of the adult. Moreover, they offer no reason for this preference, save the "adults don't get it" angle. The message imparted is that the way to rebel, to differentiate yourself from your parents, is to want this product. The "Apple Jacks '94" commercial (see sidebar) lacks even this, offering no more than, "We eat what we like!" And why do we like it? Well, we just do.

A rallying cry for irrational choice, "We eat what we like" is now over 15 years old. Though no longer a part of Kellogg's advertising campaign, its ethos still exists in the child - now adult - consumers educated by its message. Through our choices, we make ourselves. Reason is an inconvenience. We are what we eat; we eat what we like.

1 comment:

parallelliott said...

that's righteous. this is the revolution i've been looking for.