Rethink the Cool
What follows is transcribed from Adbusters' early shoe leaflet circa 2003.
There was also a forum thread for people who wanted to swap shoes with others who had bought matching-wrong sizes.
Rethink the cool
A VIRUS IS SPREADING
RED DOTS ARE POPPING UP ON SNEAKERS EVERYWHERE
I WONDER WHAT THAT'S ALL ABOUT...
Only a couple of generations ago, we the people sand the songs and told the stories and generated our culture from the bottom up. But now, more and more of our culture is spoon-fed do us top-down by corporations, TV networks and ad agencies. We must reclaim our culture, start telling our own stories again singing our own songs, producing our own meaning, creating our own cool. The Blackspot is one way to start doing that.
At first, it seems to be working. Johnny shows up in his cleaning white Nines, and while nobody really makes a big deal, the brand conscious girls do stop giving him a hard time, Johnny feels a tiny bid of confidence washing over him, This might just be a good year, he thinks.
Time passes. Now there's a funny feeling in Johnny's stomach, The Nike ads above the urinals have changed, he notices, and some kids already have the newest shoes. That girl doesn't bother saying hi any more.
Johnny gets a job delivery junk mail after school, to buy new sneakers. He feels trapped & helpless. This cool is making him broken he thinks. This cool is making him sick. This cool is toxic.
Sally's been thinking. She's been thinking how stupid it is that celebrities get paid like, a billion dollars to say whatever corporations want them to say. She's been thinking how boring it is that next month there will be new celebrities, in edgier ads, selling stuff that's "better" than the stuff you've just got.
One day, at lunch, Sally meets a quiet, nervous boy named Johnny. He says that he needs new shoes. Sally shows him her pair of Blackspot sneakers on which she's painted a bunch of neon pink skulls. Johnny thinks she looks pretty wicked in them. He likes that her shoes look like they're really hers, like she's been wearing them for a thousand years. Like the shoes weren't cool until she made them cool.
That sounds nice, he decides.
THE MOST EARTH-FRIENDLY SHOE IN THE WORLD BLACKSPOT V2
100% ORGANIC HEMP UPPERS
1 SHARE = 1 VOTE IN THE ANTI-CORPORATION
HAND-PAINTED RED SWEET SPOT (FOR KICKING CORPORATE ASS)
HAND DRAWN WHITE SYMBOL OF DEFIANCE AGAINST THE CORPORATE COOL
VEGETARIAN TOE AND HEEL
PORTUGUESE UNION FACTORY - CONCHAS ET FRERES OR QUALISHOE
DESIGNED BY THE ONE-AND-ONLY JOHN FLUEVOG
RECYCLED TYRE SOLE
BLACKSPOT V1 THE ORIGINAL CLASSIC
For years the old pattern went on. People were jaded by mega-corporate control of so much of their lives, but couldn't see how they could take some power back. We decided to launch the counterattack. The result is the world's first anti-brand - the Blackspot sneaker.
Made from organic material in a Pakistan fairtrade factory, everything about the Blackspot, from its red toe tip and hand-drawn anti-logo to its renegade billboards and TV ads is designed to do only one thing: kick mega-corporate ass. We're going to cut into Nike's market share, unswoosh that tired old swoosh and give some birth to a new kind if cool in the sneaker industry. Veganline.com buy another label of shoe from the same factory - the Ethletic trainer.
NO MORE SWEATSHOPS NO MORE CORPORATE COOL Buying a pair of Blackspots makes you a voting shareholder in The Blackspot Anticorporation: Log in to http://bit.ly/blackspotmembers and use your shareholder number as the password (your number is on the shareholder certificate inside the shoe box). In the forums we'll brainstorm, discuss and vote on:(http://bit.ly/antirpreneur2 was similar to http://bit.ly/blackspotmembers)
What future Blackspots will look like
Where and how they'll be made
Which industries and which corporations we'll target with our revenue next
HOW TO UNCOOL A MEGA-CORPORATION
Just behind the ubiquitous swoosh lurks the uneasy knowledge that the Nike brand was built on sweatshop labour, obscene profit margins and highly-paid celebrities dispensing a bogus, top-down cool.
It's a dangerous game they've been playing and it shouldn't take much to make that corporate cool machine blow up in their faces.
Apply a helpful dot of red to the ass kicking sweet spot, right at the top of the toe cap
Slap a black spot on every last logo, brand name and trademark.
Walk into any local indite store and tell the manager about the Blackspot - how they're trying to create a bottom-up socially responsible cool in the sneaker industry. Then email us with the retailer's specs, and we'll do the follow-up. If the store decides to carry Blackspot we'll end you a token of our appreciation.
Blackspot start popping up all over the urban landscape - a sign of defiance, just like the anarchy symbols of yesteryear.
We start airing fifteen-second mind bombs on the TV networks, If they refuse to sell us the airtime we'll launch legal actions against them,
THE RISE OF THE ANTIPRENEUR
The Black spot is an open-source brand. There's no copyright so take it and use it. You'll be a completely new kind of entrepreneur - an antipreneur - part of a movement of business-minded social activists determined to create a more grassroots approach to capitalism and beat dysfunctional corporations at their own game.
If Blackspot Sneakers can bite into Nike's market share even by one percent then we will have set a precedent that will inspire antipreneurs in other industries - a virus at the hart of corporate capitalism.
Check out the experiment that was at http://bit.ly/antirpreneur2 and others like it that are happening now.
REVOLUTION IN EVERY CUP
As city streets around the world are choked with every more Starbucks locations unlucky neighbourhoods suffer a gut-wrenching, local-culture coffee enema.
To hell with Starbucks. Try a Blackspot Culture Shop selling fair-trade, organic coffee with revolution in every cup. More than just a coffee shop with books, it'll be an info shop with coffee - part library, part meeting place, and part alter of caffeine. Coffee shops have a proud tradition of hosting revolutionary thought. Lets revive that tradition. Look for the first Culture Shop in Vancouver Canada, then use our template to start one in your town: [email protected] Adbusters.org
McDonald's pays big bucks to make damned sure that every lamp-heated patty, in every corner of the world, tastes wearily the same. So here's a radical idea: a chain of Blackspot Restaurants, serving only fresh, nutritious, locally sourced food.
You want a burger? Sure we'll make you a burger. But it won't be with tasteless, factory-farmed agri-business sludge. It'll be with local, organic produce grown in your city's backyard. So instead of a global brand spreading global homogeneity, we'll have a global anti-brand championing local variety with a slow surprise in every bite.
THE VIRUS SPREADS
Cola - A socially responsible alternative to the world's most branded beverage
Water - Purified, local water in reusable, refillable containers
Apparel - Organic, unbleached clothing made in co-op factories
Stencils - for symbolic defence against the corporate cool
Biodiesel - Indy outlets selling fuel made from waste vegetable oil
Loans - Low-interest loans to Blackspot start-ups
Law - A dedicated law form defending our right to unbranded space and democratic media.
OPEN SOURCE, GRASS ROOTS REVOLUTION
It's not as hard as you think to beat large monolithic corporations like Nike, McDonald's and Starbucks in shop-to-shop combat. Most megacorporations are slow, bureaucratic dinosaurs, easily outmanoeuvred by nimble, fleet-footed entrepreneurs.
In capitalism's next evolutionary phase small will trump big, local will beat global and shared open-source brands like the blackspot will triumph over jealously guarded copywrites.
All it takes is for a few of us to start living spontaneous lives of playful resistance-to living without dead time.
Bit by bit, industry by industry this little black spot will change the ugly face of corporate capitalism
The Blackspot Anticorporation, 1243 West 7th Avenue Vancouver, BC V6H 1B7 Phone (604) 736-9401 blackspot [at] Adbusters [dot] org
There was a similar site that didn't require you to buy the shoes called antipreneur.org . Both were online in the late 2000s and are on archive.org
This is a quote from the front page:
CAN ACTIVISTS HARNESS THE ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT?
While giant corporations run roughshod over our lives, we whine and complain, protest and boycott. But the one thing we've never done is fight the corporations head on.
For too long we've ignored the market, written it off as enemy territory. Yet, what do mega-corps like Walmart and Coke fear most? Competition.
We're talking about a new breed of bottom-up enterprise that does things differently: promotes ethics over profit, values over image, idealism over hype. A brand of grassroots capitalism that deals in products we actually need -- and believe in. No sweatshops. No mind-fucking ads. Just sustainable, accountable companies. Run by us.
Imagine a chain of restaurants serving only locally-sourced food. Or an artist-controlled radio network. Instead of Nikes? Blackspot Sneakers. Instead of McDonald's, Warner Music and Microsoft? Tell us in the forum. ...ENDS