Mind Streaming

John Coxon's Online Journal
Archive Search
This page is powered by Blog Studio.
and s-integrator

Monday, March 28, 2005




Racism has been an unpleasant and unwanted feature of national and international football matches and there has been widespread controversy about the way the governing bodies of football, in various countries,  have dealt with incidences of it when reported to them. There has  widespread outrage recently at how some national  football organisations, notably in Spain and Italy,  have reacted so weakly to complaints of racist abuse from , from example some of their supporters towards black players in English teams. 


The vastly wealthy and influential global sportswear company,  Nike,  have put their marketing weight behind an anti-racism campaign, “Stand up-Speak out “which includes the sale of these inter-twinned black and white bracelets at key sportswear outlets. Two black players ,  Thierry Henry and Rio Ferdinand, who have both had direct experience of being racially abused during football matches,  fronted Nike’s campaign. This corporate altruism seems to me a tad ironic given that the company does not have a squeaky clean record when it comes to ethical trading.


Much has been written about third world workers who actually are involved in the manufacture the goods big  companies like Nike  market , people (including child labour)  who have been / are being  exploited for profit and denied, for example , simple basic  rights like that of being able to form or belong to Trade Unions.


Only recently, the duality of it all came into focus . Gifted young  England player, Wayne Rooney ,  himself a questionable role model for youngsters (having , for example, verbally abused a referee recently ,) appeared in the dressing room minutes before the International friendly with Holland  kicked off  with a box of Nike anti-racist bracelets and began giving them out to England players along with team “physio” Gary Lewin .


( The Dutch team, sponsored by Nike, wore a black and white  special anti-racist campaign based team strip for the match and I understand that will be their official kit this season.)  The dressing room  joke is that many of the regular  England  players are signed up  in highly  lucrative sponsorship deals with a variety of sportswear companies and the Nike produced anti-racism bands represented a conflict of interest for them. Some, like Manchester United’s Gary Neville, were angry that Nike were trying to gain commercial capital from the issue and were cheapening the campaign by what advertising “guru”, Kevin May,  called typical of  Nike “guerrilla” marketing strategy. Nike did not have official  permission  (from the UK’s  governing body , the Football Association , or from the England team manager)  to distribute the bands amongst the players. 


I borrowed this wrist band from my partner’s nine  year old grand-daughter  to illustrate this article. ( It cost her father £4GBP in a well know sportswear retailer and I have no idea if any of that money would normally go to any anti-racist charity and certainly the Nike company could so easily fund a global  campaign given the size of their annual profits .)  It was interesting and enlightening  to hear the earnest conversation, the other day, between the little girl of nine and my partner’s  thirteen year old  daughter about whether it was just a fashion item or something more.


 (It was noticeable that, when charities used folded ribbons for fundraising, children and teenagers were not , it seems to me, particularly interested in buying them or wearing them. But , more recently , the number of ‘good causes’ silicone wrist bands has increased making it possible for a person to wear their heart on their sleeve, or rather their wrist with   a veritable rainbow of colour . Currently the catalogue includes , amongst others, the blue and white  Tsunami band,  the white Make Poverty History  band , the Dutch  and American  orange “Respect” and “Respect  2 all”  bands  , multiple coloured “I will” bands (muscular dystrophy charity) and the  pink ( Breast Cancer charity.)   wrist band. 


It was inevitable that some opportunist profiteers would  “jump on the bandwagon” or appear guilty of it, is evidenced in the increasing trend amongst young people particularly, to wear the colourful “issue” charity bracelets as merely a fashion statement and often regardless of their actual significance. The trend, I believe, began innocently enough with yellow “Live Strong”  bands , popularly worn by many sporting and media celebrities and originally designed to  promote awareness of  cancer issues  but also to raise funds for the Lance Armstrong Foundation . http://www.laf.org/  . Naturally, many youngsters wanted to copy their role models or identify with celebrities in a visible way and that opened the much wider market for these items beyond simply fund raising.


 Obscenely, originals and very probably a lot of pirated fakes from this and other reputable charities are being openly traded on the internet as this latest fashion trend /craze spreads around the world and cynical back street manufacturers are capitalising on the latest good thing, by mass producing charity silicone wristbands with of course no interest in or concern for the charities they are ripping off.


There are of course a lot of young people, I suspect alas in an increasing minority, who are genuinely concerned about health and social and environmental issues and who will have shown their concern in buying official charity wrist bands and for whom it is not merely a fashion accessory. .  But, given what a powerful force direct and indirect peer group pressure can be, if you happen to be a child and all your friends have one or more of these bands, it seems more likely that , for the majority,  the bands will have “herd identity” value only. If that is the case the average  child would be less concerned about the actual intended symbolism of these bands and have little or no concern about the source of this latest “must have now” item or where the money you pay up front for it  is actually going to end up.


The bonus for kids too, is that as a fashion accessory, the coloured silicone wristband is relatively very cheap in comparison to the latest mobile phone; the latest designer sports shoes or latest designer logo-ed sport clothes through which so many kids buy into or feel they have to buy into (and so often pester their parents into funding)  , so that they can belong to a group defined in many ways by these temporary status symbols. Manufacturers capitalise on this consumer status symbol fever by annually changing models and designs to ensure the market remains buoyant and they continue to make often excessive profit.



In fact coloured silicone wristbands are now just the latest thing in a long line of relatively cheap brand marketing devices and a number of companies actually now specialise in customised wristbands for promotional and marketing use.  . For example, very recently, a big sportswear chain in the UK, JJB Sports, have been offering free white silicone wrist bands bearing the cross of St. George ( emblem of our national football team)  when customers buy the latest replica England National Team.  Suddenly, wrist bands have gained craze status and “street cred “ so manufacturers  can look forward to profiting from the trend  before an ever  fickle general public is turned on by some new novelty device.


Etymology note.

“Jumping on the band wagon”

The phrase comes from the USA where political parades were often accompanied by a band on a wagon. Political leaders often joined them in the hope of gaining popular support. It has come to mean joining a growing movement /trend  in support of someone or something, often in an opportunist way.

Band can be a company of musicians or an organisation to which someone belongs and or is bound. It can also be a strip of material used to bind something as in hair or wrist band and can also mean a kind of  bracelet or finger ring as in band of gold.



johncoxon 8:09 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

john/Male/51-55. Lives in United Kingdom/Engalnd/Salford, speaks English and French. Eye color is brown. I am what my mother calls unique. I am also creative. My interests are photgraphy/local history.
This is my blogchalk:
United Kingdom, Engalnd, Salford, English, French, john, Male, 51-55, photgraphy, local history.