As I have said many times, I am an avid reader of non-fiction. I have noticed over the years that people or organizations with certain political ideas tend to discuss issues in a specific way based on a set of assumed principles. It sometimes feels like they are following a script and, in some cases, they may be. One of the most pronounced examples is the way corporations communicate to the public, most commonly called Public Relations (PR). The trouble with the corporation—expressed very well in the film The Corporation—is that no matter what service or product it purports to provide, its goal is to maximize profit for its shareholders. Naturally, these companies and conglomerates do not want the public to think in this way because it interferes with sales. Because of this, the most important department in any corporate entity is its PR department. It must somehow create the impression that it is serving its customers and generally offering something for the common good.
Artists are a necessary part of advertising and perhaps in the design of a product as well. However, because a company does not want the public to be privy to its use of labor—stories of child labor and virtual slave wages is ubiquitous—they must play down the value of that labor while convincing the public that they are good corporate citizens. Money is the bottom line and so even those with the needed talent are regarded as laborers; artists and craftsman in particular are usually not given the credit for the work they would if the companies had to follow some kind of guild rules.
A case in point is this charming advertising promoting Domini Social Investments.
This fund manager promotes itself as a responsible business by refusing to invest in stocks (or other financial products) involving weapons production or some other distasteful industry. If the PR is to be believed, people can feel good doing business with them because no harm is being done. This is naive since many large corporations have entangled relationships others making this almost impossible and what about this company’s own behavior? This work of art is not credited and there has been no reply to repeated requests for more information on the history of this piece.
I did get a response in the second case. I had seen these trading cards on sale on the web—featuring girls, naturally—and was thinking of doing a short post.
Since the images were of low quality, I had hoped to convince the company, Forever Clover®, to not only identify the artists who made these images, but send some higher-quality images for use in this post. Following a classic corporate script, I received an email expressly forbidding me to use their artwork or even link to their site. These threatening and lawyerly letters are commonplace and are made to intimidate people who are not well-versed in the law. I assure you that we have every right under international copyright law to present a sample of their product and criticize their company.
These trading cards come in a variety of themes; some are embossed and some are embedded with glitter. According to their website, Forever Clover was established in 2011 and celebrates young girls and their friendships. It started with swap cards for girls (age 4–11) to collect and trade and has expanded into novels and activity books. Their PR involves a blog and other forms of interaction meant to show an interest in the girls’ lives and promote brand loyalty. You can read more about their mandate here, but you will find they express a very superficial and saccharine sentiment clothed as wholesome values.
It should also be noted that whoever these artists are, they are not the copyright holders; the companies are.