55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
A slap in the face for unethical shopping decisions?,
This review is from: No Logo (Paperback)
I have owned this book for some time, and have only just plucked up the courage to read it. This has taken a month to finish, largely because the issues raised required some thought and resulted in a bit of discussion at home, even briefly diverting attention away from sport on TV. The title makes it clear that the author is taking up a particular, predominantly negative, attitude towards branding and marketing in the context of globalisation. Naomi Klein has researched the impact of brands on local environments and people, and on the countries where products are manufactured, with reference to the power of multi-nationals to shape national and international politics and policies. I was impressed by the detail in the book, although I found parts of it heavy-going for the same reason.
The chapters dealing with the marketing of brands to young people within schools and universities were particularly interesting-things have changed since my day. I was fascinated by what makes a brand "cool" and how corporations have acquired and then exploited knowledge about us all to create demand for products. I discovered that my belief that I take no notice of advertising is almost certainly wrong-I see so many messages during a day that some of them are bound to stick and then pop up the next time I need to buy a pair of trainers.
The strongest chapters relate to the treatment of workers in sweatshops in various parts of the world. I knew that such operations existed but I had not appreciated the extent of their reach. This book proved to me that I have bought goods manufactured by someone who is living on payment well below minimum wage, working long hours, often in unsafe conditions. That has made me stop to think about what I will buy and from where in future.
Having awakened my awareness I was disappointed that the book did not tell me what to do with it. I would have welcomed some positive suggestions for making different choices when shopping, or details of how to lobby for change. I was also unclear as to Naomi Klein's view regarding violent direct action. I felt that she was uncritical of some actions taken by protestors, for example in the May Day riots, and it would have helped me to understand her perspective, and that of the protestors, if she had stuck her neck out a little more. I would also have appreciated a more historical context to the detail e.g. an explanation of how the textile industry has developed in the UK via sweatshops, unionisation etc. in such a way as to lead many clothing retailers to source products in, say, Macau (using the example that I am wearing at the moment), rather than Yorkshire. Does this mean that we haven't moved on from the portrayal of the textile industry in the sitcom "Brass" and still all that matters to us is the cheapest price and the highest profit? If so, why?
I have made the book sound like a worthy tome and in some respects it is. I am surprised by how many people I have seen reading it on the Tube. What I have learnt from "No Logo" is that we value individuality and want to do the right thing as long as we don't stand out from the crowd or have to pay too much! The big brands can capitalise on those conflicting desires to sell more products that are pretty much the same as each other using the flattery of advertising to convince us that only we are worthy of them. This book has taught me not to be quite so easily duped. Now all I need is another book to tell me how to shop ethically!