Slate just did a great overview of the history of the jingle, to the tune that every generation wants new cool things, and to be told about them in a different way. Which is way true. At a glance, the Fifties were for International Style (although I have no idea how Eames chairs were supposed to be comfortable); Eighties fashions, unfortunately, are making a comeback (but everybody knows those neon colors are retro, notcool, right?); and the Noughties were all about shiny glass and brushed steel, courtesy of Macintosh.
But that’s the past. Let’s talk about the future according to the ones making it all up. Here’s a doubleplusfast overview of big brands and products soon to come!
Soma (Brave New World)
I can rattle off seven brand-name drugs (Prozac, Klonopin, Valium, Vicodin, Advil, Excedrin, Prilosec) faster than I can name the Seven Dwarfs (Dopey, Sleepy, Sneezy, Doc, Grumpy, Happy ... Bashful?), so it’s no surprise that one of the greatest dystopian novels of all time, Brave New World, revolves around the pleasure drug Soma. The stuff sounds pretty strong, and lasts a dangerously long time: “half a gramme for a half-holiday, a gramme for a week-end, two grammes for a trip to the gorgeous East, three for a dark eternity on the moon.” And when characters realize they haven’t got the magic drug, they whine in catchphrases: “A gramme is better than a damn.” Above and beyond all the other possibilities in this list, I'd say Big Pharma is the real future.
Depend Adult Undergarment (the year, not the undergarment; Infinite Jest)
David Foster Wallace had a few hilarious ideas about the near future. In particular, calendar years were to be sponsored by corporations (Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment, Year of the Whopper), and Ian Crouch has considered the real-life twists on this joke. But really, it’s not so strange to imagine that kind of sponsorship becoming normal. People joked about the iPad and female sanitary products, but those quick-witted tweeters were no match for the almighty Apple.
Diet GingerCoke (In Persuasion Nation)
I have a soft spot for George Saunders, in large part because his characters really believe in their brands. In one story, the titular Jon is part of a collective compound that mainlines advertisements from Prudential Life to Honey Grahams (especially LI 34321) and does Assessments for products like Diet GingerCoke. If you’ve got companies raising their own focus groups, you know you’re going to get the best advertisements ever.
ColgatePalmoliveYum!BrandsViacomCredit (Super Sad True Love Story)
Welcome to the not-too-distant future: a world run by conglomerations like GlaxoSmithKline, only with a little bit more “global” and a little less “local.” Our hapless narrator, Lenny Abramov, flies on a UnitedContinentalDeltamerican plane, and ColgatePalmoliveYum!BrandsViacomCredit (don’t forget the exclamation mark) doesn’t even have a focused purpose anymore, except to wield more power than the government. But hey, in Gary Shteyngart's vision future, everybody can rate each other and talk in Netspeak!
Mattel Hoverboards (Back to the Future Part II)
Fine, I know we're talking about books, but I grew up watching Marty McFly hitting 88 miles per hour on that DeLorean, and Back to the Future II was easily my favorite film in the trilogy. When I first saw it — around the time jingles were reduced to the "cannibalization of the pop charts and an endless parade of kitsch," according to Slate — I thought it was super futuristic: 3D ads for Jaws? Gigantic televisions that show multiple channels? And I am definitely psyched to see that the film’s predictions for 2015 are closer to fact than fiction. Still waiting on the Hoverboards, though.
image credit: jeanpaulreparon.blogspot.com