Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

#UKUncut: A Study in Brand Toxicity

So in a heartbeat, a UKUncut member turned the select committee hearings yesterday from something the Murdochs simply endured and survived, to a propaganda coup for Rupert and James.

Predictably, as happens whenever one of their number gets convicted for violent behaviour, other UKUncut supporters circle the wagons and deny that culprit was ever a member of that ‘organisation’; airbrushed, almost as a homage to the best traditions of left-wing despots. “UKUncut is a non-violent cause”, they say, “so by definition if someone is violent they aren’t one of us”.

The Murdochs & The Browns

Mr & Mrs Rupert Murdoch and friends

While this does suggest some understanding of the concept of a toxic brand, it is neither credible or practical, because sooner or later someone inextricably linked with the organisation will overstep the mark.

And so it was yesterday, when one of the founders of UKUncut threw a fake pie in Rupert Murdoch’s face. It was non-violent, say some of the loonier fringe, because Rupert Murdoch wasn’t hurt – and even if it was, it was only Murdoch ffs. It would be interesting (though I wouldn’t wish it) to hear their reaction if the shock of the attack had brought on a heart attack.

“It had nothing to do with UKUncut” tweeted the assailant Jonathan May-Bowles, apparently an “activist” and “comedian”*, later yesterday. Oh yes it did. You are UKUncut, and so what you do is UKUncut. That is how the news agenda works; just as, say, a Tory MP pranging their car would be ‘Tory MP crashes car’ instead of the more accurate ‘Man crashes car’. Or, indeed, asking whether ‘former Cameron press officer’ Andy Coulson was involved in ‘phone voicemails, when the alleged crime actually took place some time before he had any connection with Cameron.

A central part of UKUncut’s strategy is to embarrass companies who ‘dodge’ tax and so harness some resulting consumer ‘disgust’ to force them towards UKUncut’s way of thinking. In other words, to threaten those companies with their brands becoming toxic.

For UKUncut, and their fellow travellers such as the touchingly naive Laurie Penny, to claim that yesterday’s attack had nothing to do with them and that we should focus on the real issues, belies a staggering ignorance of how the media operate – something that is central to their campaign (financially, legally and economically illiterate though it is).

Or, to the contrary, does it actually demonstrate a lurking fear on the Left, slowly being realised, that UKUncut is becoming a toxic brand itself?

* Updated: I’ve just seen a couple of his ‘comedy’ acts, and so have made the necessary amendment above.


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