By Martin Smith
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 1846

Cashing in on the movement?

This article is over 18 years, 9 months old
Multinationals want to make profits from peace...and from war
Issue 1846

THE ANTI-WAR movement is sending the advertising hacks into a spin. Canny corporations see the anti-war and anti-capitalist movements as new marketing tools to get to young people. How they connect into these movements takes many different forms. Corporations like Nike with its ‘Just do it’ theme or FCUK with its anti-establishment stance are playing on relatively safe ground. Meanwhile Qibla and Mecca Cola are trying to take a small bite out of Coca-Cola and Pepsi’s markets by plugging themselves as an ethical alternative to these global giants.

Mecca Cola’s advertising blurb reads, ‘Don’t drink stupid. Drink with conviction.’ Other companies are trying to tap into the anti-war market. Levi’s Europe has just produced a T-shirt with the word ‘Peace’ emblazoned on it. A French shoe company is promoting an Arabic-style shoe decorated with the Stars and Stripes alongside the word ‘Peace’. A Spanish trainer company is using peace symbols to advertise its shoes.

Recently a Virgin Megastore shop worker sent me an internal memo. It urges shop managers to organise window displays advertising classic anti-war albums. A manager says, ‘There is a growing market for this kind of stuff.’

Market strategies Surveys conducted by advertising agencies are identifying a so called new trend among young people called ‘inner directedness’. This gobbledegook is the kind of thing that corporations pay tens of thousands of pounds for. For the likes of you and me it means that a growing number of people are rejecting the latest fashions and gadgets in favour of products with ‘ethical’ and ‘moral’ themes.

At a recent seminar on advertising, an executive at D-Code (one of those agencies that try and persuade you that air you breathe is a product worth buying) told this gathering of the limitations of these new market strategies. He warned, ‘Large corporations such as McDonald’s are too establishment to be able to capitalise on these anti-war sentiments, the same is doubly true for oil companies and banks.’

With a wry smile the D-Code executive added, ‘As the war draws to a close, some major corporations believe they can turn the tables on this new radical chic and cash in on any coalition victory in Iraq.’ Doesn’t it make you feel good knowing that these multi-billion dollar corporations will be able to cash in on the death of thousands of innocent Iraqis?

Capitalism is so perverse that even T-shirt manufacturers are looking for a way to cash in on the war whatever the outcome. In the spirit of any bloody victory the so called coalition forces gain I thought I’d give these multinational corporations a few of my advertising ideas for free.

HSBC could rename itself Heartless Savage Bloodthirsty Capitalists and McDonald’s fries can now be called McFried. Of course advertising is a powerful medium. But the fact that advertisers have to use the values of our movement to sell us products reflects just how strong our anti-war struggle has become.

We need to keep reminding ourselves – we are many, they are few. They need us much more than we need their nasty little sales scams. After reading about the greed and hypocrisy of all these corporations I bet I know what you are thinking. You are going to reject all this consumerism and get yourself a Stop the War Coalition T-shirt. Am I right?

If so, is it a case of subliminal advertising? Or is it the power of one of the largest political movements this country has ever seen? You decide.

Stop the War Coalition T-shirts can be obtained for £5 from or 020 7053 2153.

Sign up for our daily email update ‘Breakfast in Red’

Latest News

Make a donation to Socialist Worker

Help fund the resistance