This week we’ve been given two different case studies to choose from. Looking at the past few weeks and the amount of changes brands have had to make to keep up with this virus, I’ve found the one “brand” that’s had to change the most is Easter.
At a time where one of the world leader’s brands the “Easter Bunny” and the “Tooth Fairy” as essential / key workers, it’s become apparent that the “branding” of Easter has become so much more commercialised.
Case Study 2: Take a brand and look at how it is delivered in different countries, e.g. alcohol, tobacco, transport, cars. Is it symbolised in a different way? Why might colour or typeface have been changed? Does it work at a local level and does it work at a global level?
The Vatican City is closed, Churches are closed, shops are shut and families can’t get together to celebrate this religious occasion.
Throughout the Globe, this “brand” has had to swiftly adapt so that we can all celebrate this festival whilst in lockdown. It’s not necessarily a brand as Coca Cola, Olympics etc but is a recognised event that is advertised and utilised by other companies for profit.
Looking at Regular Practice’s case study of the Olympics, it’s more and more evident that everything now is created to be seen and acknowledged on a global scale. Anything created now needs to be successful globally and understood globally. Although it may be received differently it still needs to translate.
As can be seen with historic Olympic posters or logos, the message needed to be explicit and as clear as possible – people didn’t really know what the Olympics was in 1908, and it therefore needed to be a literal translation onto a poster so we could understand what was going on. Whereas now, we have a semiotic base to build off and therefore more abstract olympic logos can be created. This shows how history and globalistion has affected the advertising for the Olympics but also needs to be recognisable as the Olympic rings.
We also need to question what messages are being conveyed by the media regarding these different brands – looking at Patrick Thomas’ Breaking News exhibition, it’s evident there is a strong mistrust for the media and the messages they portray. We are now questioning authenticity on a global scale and are now being bombarded with information. I know, currently, the population is watching the Government updates on the lockdowns often on a daily basis, reading the news for more stories and news on the virus. We are craving news and information and have a need for regular updates. Hypernormalisation shows us how the media and higher up powers can censor what we see and read.
“The Truth is Out There” – the chapter of Hypernormalisation about UFOs shows just how we (public) can be so easily deceived by what the media tells us. For a government to have the ability to create a conspiracy to distract the public from secret government operations is just a perfect example of censorship. In blurring fact and fiction, the government was able to distract the public whilst they experimented with new aircraft in order to help fight the new Libyan crisis.
Upon researching Easter and the Easter Bunny, I came across so much historical information and references to symbolism throughout history. This religious occasion began as a Christian celebration, representing the rebirth of Jesus.
Of all the main symbols throughout history, the Cross of course is the one that is most recognisable – however now it’s translated on to our hot cross buns. A perfect demonstration of how the symbols of Easter merge with common products to represent this time of year – consumed by thousands who don’t necessarily understand the meaning behind what they’re eating. It’s a perfect example of how the “signifier” can be more popular than the “signified” and doesn’t carry the message as it should.
The other popular Easter symbol is the bunny. The Easter Bunny is recognised almost worldwide as one of the main symbols of Easter. However there is confusion over the origin and relation to Easter as a religious celebration – Originating from Germany, they believed bunnies laid red eggs to symbolise the rebirth. This belief of painted eggs was brought over to America with German settlers, and so our “westernised” concept of the Easter Bunny was born.
This lovable character is now as recognisable as Santa or the Tooth Fairy. These characters are brought to life by our imaginations and, of course, advertising. The painted eggs soon transformed into brightly coloured chocolate eggs delivered by the Easter Bunny.
As bunnies go, they are reverred around the world – in Asian culture the bunny is a sacred messenger but the Easter Bunny is non existent. Eygptians saw rabbits as goddesses of swiftness and keen movement. Throughout the globe the rabbit is seen as a symbol for rejuvenation, new life, moving forwards – and the amalgamation of all these symbols have created the Easter Bunny over time.
The Easter Bunny Around The World:
The Easter Bunny is reverred around the world as a symbol of “freshness” and new life, a main celebration of Easter.
In most Western countries, the Easter Bunny delivers chocolate or brightly coloured eggs to children – culminating in Easter Egg hunts.
Germany: The bunny originated here and so there are many historical drawings or prints of their interpretation of the Easter Bunny. These show how our modernised view of the Easter Bunny has developed over time. Advertised more as a hare with a basket of brightly coloured eggs, the sensation of Chocolate Eggs or Chocolate Bunnies is non-existent.
Moving forwards in time and travelling across Europe, the Easter Bunny has developed into a character similar to Santa or the Tooth Fairy. An approachable, “Cadbury’s” Bunny, chocolate is now heavily involved.
With both eggs becoming chocolate and the Easter Bunny itself being represented in Chocolate,t he transition to American-style Easter has begun. Hirschfelder claims “since the second half of the 20th century, we have seen a terrific process of erosion that has led to today’s de-Christianization of society”. This change from the original Christian meanings and symbols has meant that those recognisable objects or icons no longer hold the same meaning.
Throughout most Western society, the rabbit is portrayed pretty much the same – the emphasis on creating a friendly, advertisable character has resulted in a lack of meaning behind the symbol. In other areas of the world, Russia, Asia etc, the Easter Bunny is not recognised at all – being that some of these countries don’t celebrate Easter does mean there is a lack of any significant Easter Symbols but, for example, Russia, their tradition of exchanging eggs has also resulted in our Westernised translation of this.
However, in Australia, Rabbits are seen as vermin and therefore they celebrate with their Easter Bilby. Again, this did not originate as a celebration of Easter but a promotion of the endangered animal – the Bilby.
Interestingly, as discussed in Marrone&Magano (2018), a rabbit is a multifacted object throughout many societies throughout the globe. The Westernised view of this domesticated, lovable animal differs strongly to other countries who se a rabbit as the main component to a recipe – despite our view of the bunny as a fuzzy Easter character, it also has “multiple connotations and multiple semiotic identities”.
In conclusion, the globalisation and commercialisation of Easter has resulted in some cartoon-esque, digitalised projections of what we want to celebrate at Easter. No longer do the symbols have their original, significant meanings in the majority of households in Western society. The religious celebration has become a time for feasting, chocolate, Egg Hunts, and more. It’s become a commercialised event, similarly to Valentines Day, Christmas etc. Are our traditions becoming homogenised because our lives are now more digital? Should we even celebrate these festivals and icons without understanding the root of their meaning? Despite the strong symbolism throughout religious events, the meanings of these symbols are becoming confused with modern translations.
Update on Editorial Piece:
I believe we should always be aware of the meaning behind our celebrations – it’s something we take for granted year upon year and expect it to happen. And it does, naturally, because our calendars revolve around these dates and many many businesses would go under without these holidays.
However, I believe our consumerist lifestyles have resulted in the symbolic messages behind these celebrations to be misread or misunderstood – it’s so vital we recognise what the concepts are.
Therefore, I’ve created an editorial piece that looks fun, colourful and bright to encourage people to read it – it’s intended to look like a child’s booklet as an educational tool. However, of course, it’s written in the style that this Degree is asking for. Had I not wanted to included reference material or theory, I could have made a child-centric pamphlet which could be put in Easter Egg boxes or similar to encourage education behind these holidays.
Marrone, G. & Magano, D (2018). Semiotics of Animals in Culture.