If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times– I am a slave to packaging. However, I feel like it’s past time I altered that expression. Slavery is too real and heavy to compare to my compulsion to buy stuff and things. I may have found a better analogy for my Achilles’ heel of consumption. No, thankfully, I’m not a slave– but I am beholden in some strange way to the whims of our culture and corporate overlords.
It’s like an arranged marriage. I was destined for this, seemingly groomed from the start to recklessly need and shamelessly plead with my parents for whatever seasonal variation had been foisted upon my favorite cereal. And I’m sure the speed with which I threw my hard-earned allowance at shiny, new action figures lined the pockets of some coked-up, Hasbro marketing team. One might think that as I have grown up and become increasingly aware of the many tricks employed by advertising gurus that I would have become less susceptible.
Well, one would be wrong.
Is it because I grew up during the 1980s when branding and marketing were crashing through walls like the Kool-Aid Man? Maybe it’s because I’m weak-minded, but I take suggestions from advertisers like it’s my job. And I’m not alone. I’ve got friends collecting Funko Pop figurines like they were Beanie Babies and friends collecting digital Pokémon like they were Magic the Gathering cards. We’re natural-born consumers, and companies know this. And if you think you’re too much of an adult to fall victim to such nostalgic influences, you’ve got another thing coming.
Just look at all the beer! So much beer! Unless you drink professionally, there’s no way anyone could keep up! How do they hook you? With the packaging! Flashy labels with names that reference pop-culture touchstones, so you don’t have to think too hard. Overwhelmed by all the choices? Just pick the one with the name that makes a pun out of your favorite television program!
Make no mistake about it, craft beer is the hot, new adult toy for the collector who grew out of their Transformers. Not many will care that I have a limited-edition custom-made “Holiday Special” Boba Fett action figure– but when I tell them I have a small batch, limited-run, holiday IPA– with a tie-in to that popular band that is so hot right now– suddenly everyone has to know where I got it, was there any left, and how much did it cost me. Lucky for you, I was born beholden to packaging, and I always buy an extra for the shelf. Unlucky for you, the one for the shelf is for display… Never to be opened.