A postulation: ‘First as Protest, Then as Marketing Campaign’ is the new ‘First as Tragedy, Then as Farce’.
Smelly high-street cosmetics chain ‘Lush’ pulled a ‘naked’ campaign stunt (once in 2007, then again in 2008) billed as a ‘protest’ against packaging. Except it’s not a protest. It’s a marketing campaign. This is symptomatic of the way society functions.
I think this needs to be put in some kind of context. In these postmodern times, people increasingly experience brands as a method of expressing a certain aspect of themselves. This is tied into two things:
1) The postmodern experience is that of experiencing oneself as art
2) The consumerist experience is that of defining oneself by one’s purchases
So, it follows, the only way you can express yourself and your values to others is via consumer choices. The Lush ‘protest’ operates in this framework. It says, “Oppose x, buy y instead.” Of course, it also says, “Look at our attractive young employees’ bodies.” Nothing like a cheeky bit of nudity to get the papers involved.