Assessing loyalty to an imaginary brand

Posted by Rob Walker on July 9, 2008
Posted Under: Fandom,Imaginary Brands

I’ve linked to past entries in the Brand Autopsy series “Would you miss …?”

But this is the best one: Would you miss Dunder Mifflin? That’s the non-existent paper company in The Office.

Side note: Look at all this Dunder Mifflin merch!

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

Reader Comments

I only recently began reading your work, since I saw you on C-SPAN’s BookTV a few weeks ago.

I will confess that I own a Dunder Mifflin bag AND hat! I would argue that, for anyone using these items, this is pure kitsch.

My politics are extremely anti-corporate; I don’t display any real-world corporate logos. (Um, well, except for those from sports teams. I see a legitimate exception there, though I would bet that others of my political stripe would not. Hmm; perhaps an interesting idea for a column, no?)

The beauty of imaginary brands, such as Dunder Mifflin and the one you profiled from the movie Idiocracy, is that they allow for the subversion of the “language” of adverstising, and for the co-optation of this language for the purpose of making an ironic statement. (Co-opting the co-opters!)

And this is certainly true for the Dunder Mifflin logo. Indeed, all of the responses on the Brand Autopsy board come from the ironic, in-on-the-joke perspective, fully going along with the gag.

Carrying around this bag (especially to work!) is also an homage to the writing on the show, to the fact that this show has it right: we all essentially work at “Dunder Mifflin” — at a thankless job, under an incompetent boss, surrounded by annoying, borderline-horrible people.

Now, could someone possibly misunderstand the meaning of my display of this logo? Could someone miss the gag? I would imagine so — it is not pleasant to think that there are people so square that they wouldn’t get the joke; but it is realistic to think that.

In the aftermath of the New Yorker Obama cover, it is interesting to consider the frustration inherent in trying to do satire in a society that is losing the ability to discern it, or even to understand it.

Written By Ferdinand Cesarano on July 15th, 2008 @ 2:27 pm

I love that I got a new reader from being on C-Span! That’s awesome!

And I like what you’re saying here about Dunder Mifflin, I totally get it. But you’re right that .. not everyone might. But I’m sure you’re not worried about that, nor should you be. Thanks for the comment.

Written By Rob Walker on July 17th, 2008 @ 7:58 am

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