False Deities and Commodifying Kindness

You can never accuse me of being a tie dye dunking, granola grinding, yoghurt weaving hippy. I drink Coca Cola when I choose to. I hanker after maple glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I eat Nutella with an ice cream scoop. My body, be it my temple, is one that has seen plenty of E numbers.
You can call me bah humbug, if you like. The Coca Cola truck is coming to Chichester. Some time this month. I can’t be bothered to post the actual date. Deep joy and jubilation, Cicestrians. You will finally be able to tap into the full joy of Christmas that the big red truck will bring in. This was the big secret that The Chichester Business in Development lot have been keeping close to their hearts until just recently. This was their big news.
Apparently, according to their website which you can google for yourself, Chichester is being bestowed a visit by the red truck because the city has been selected for being a hotspot for kindness. So let me get this straight. The acts of kindness of the residents of Chichester are being validated by a multinational fizzy drink company? And we are being rewarded with a visit from their big red truck? Of course this isn’t some massive marketing gimmickry which has been hatched up by Coca Cola itself. Let’s not start about the press release our local newspaper has been sent by the company itself, educating them on how to publicise the event by the use of standardised hashtags (#) and buzzwords and web links.
Forget about any academic debate on whether Father Christmas is Pagan or Christian, or whether his outfit was originally green or gold. Left to Coca Cola’s devices, Christmas is to be represented by a fuel guzzling, road ripping, resource sapping, spend spend spend mentality that is the Coca Cola truck. Remember folks, it’s not Christmas until the Coca Cola truck has been. The tax payers of Chichester will indirectly be paying for this visit. Through the wear and tear of our streets, the extra policing that such an event will require and even down to the sheer logistics of organising such an event. The business in development levy that I as a shop owner, am obliged to pay has in some way gone to paying for the manpower that has made this event possible. And what’s worse, we are to be grateful and honoured for this privilege.
What about this hotspots for kindness? What are they? How did they decide that we, as Cicestrians have been kinder than other city dwellers? And what have we been kind about? The mountain of green chips that we deposit into clear acrylic boxes in Waitrose? The Big Sleep Out event that many of our city dwellers supported in aid of our local homeless charity, StonePillow? And the suspended coffee scheme that our bakery started, the first ever in West Sussex, perhaps this was in the long list of acts of kindness that collectively made Chichester a hotspot of kindness? And if this is so, Coca Cola, NO. We do not want any part in your plot to commodify kindness for the cheap purpose of advertising. What is shameful is that these aren’t even acts of kindness perpetrated by them. Coca Cola is a bit like that gobby person in your project group at school who never turned up for group work, did bugger all but claimed all the credit because he can talk the loudest and has the shiniest teeth.
At risk of sounding slightly biblical, but oh heck, it’s the season for it, the Coca Cola truck is a false deity. What it brings into the towns and cities that it passes is the silent hysteria of consumerism, the unsustainable societal ambition to buy, and spend, and the promise that material gains will indeed adequately replace the need for a sense of belonging that human bonding brings.
So bah humbug here, would prefer not to see Christmas (ho ho) ho-ed by Coca Cola and will be tending the home fire with her family on the night of this event.

Comments

False Deities and Commodifying Kindness — 9 Comments

  1. Well said. i wonder if many people know how ‘kind’ Coca Cola are in their business ethos, about the many issues that blacken the Coca-Cola brand; the infringement on workers rights, the environmental impact and drought caused by the bottling plants and the pure disregard that The Coca-Cola Company has for the communities it inhabits. After thinking about it, alongside how generally bad for your health all of their products are, despite me partaking in the odd drink, I’ve decided my children do not need to associate their happy Christmas with coca cola either x

  2. I, like a lot of others who live a certain distance away from Chichester, will be making a rare trip to the city tomorrow – to see the lorry, and to check out the shops.

    When I get thirsty and fancy a snack, I’ll remember your shop! I’ll also remember the mad, ranting owner who is so outraged by what Coca-Cola are unjustly inflicting upon you, and just go to Starbucks instead.

    • Dear Nothanks,
      Starbucks, really? But that’s like on a whole different street to where the truck will be parked up. Surely you’d want to go to Cafe Nero – that’s practically at its doorstep, you’d have perfect view of the truck and with an added bonus of having access to the cafe’s wifi so you could tweet about the truck if you so wish. I believe there is even a special hashtag for the event. It’d be awful if you end up missing anything by being on another street sipping your coffee, seeing that you would’ve travelled a fair distance to come look at a truck.

      Thank you for spending the little hours of your morning writing your comment to me. Succinct with no misappropriation of punctuation marks.

      Merry Christmas.

        • Well, on that matter, I actually agree with you. However, of all the coffee shop chains in Chichester, cafe Nero does make significantly better espresso than Starbucks.

  3. As always eloquently put and on the nail. The mass marketing of Christmas as a consumerist holiday makes me feel quite ill. We are made to feel as if we have to give gifts to show our love. We all chase our tails spending money we don’t really have to buy things for others that they don’t really want, and the real beneficiaries are the big companies. I commend you for taking a stand, and wish people would see Christmas for what it is,(at it’s very core) an opportunity to enjoy your friends and family. Coke Cola should remember they don’t own it and councils should have the balls to tell them where to go!

  4. Brilliantly put Aida! Mass capitalist consumerism by big corporate giants. Trying to spread false Christmas cheer that is actually a cloak for advertising. It pisses me off as a business owner and as a general citizen that this is what they waste money on. And as you say this was the “big” surprise our council had in store for us. Shopper numbers are down hugely! Car parking expenses are at an all time high. They let Xmas markets that don’t pay rents and rates all year round take over the streets, obscuring business’s that do! I actually still can’t believe it, I mean seriously!! a bloody Coca Cola lorry! It’s embarrassing!

  5. Fucking A Aida! I too will drink the occasional coke & serve it in my cafe because people want me to. But they piss me off. They came to my cafe when I opened & tried to get me to buy coke cans directly from them for more than supermarkets charge for multipacks. They seemed shocked that I would rather buy a new fridge of my own than be told what to stock by them in exchange for getting to keep their 8 year old fridge that said Coke on the side.