Imperial Decline

The New York Times today features a piece on the design of the workspace at the ?What If! [note: a fine nominee for the most annoying agency name ever] marketing agency, which “works to expand the markets of businesses like PepsiCo, Pfizer and Virgin.”

The theme is postmodern playground:


The new interiors recall the whimsies of larger creative campuses like Google. There are “stimulation” shelves for employees to display objects; white boards in the elevators (“Smiths or Cure?” read one line of graffiti the other day); a “library” with no books (just wallpaper that looks like books); and vintage stereo components that play vinyl.

Can you guess what the building housing all this behavior-engineering “play” on behalf of corporate sugar water and other forms of cash-farming used to be? Yep, a free-care hospital and a lending library.

For the umpteenth time, Orwell couldn’t make this stuff up.

7 Replies to “Imperial Decline”

  1. “Smiths or Cure”?
    Precisely why I hated college and collegians in the 80s – and now they are marketing for Pfizer.
    !WhatIf? sounds like a joke, looks even more like a joke, but TCT is claiming that this is an actual place?

  2. Well, Martin, to be fair to those groups, it wasn’t them putting themselves on that scribble board in the corporate elevator. It was one of the posers riding up to put in another day’s “play” on behalf of Pepsico.

    Nonetheless, the comment does reek of pose-striking.

    And not very talented pose-striking either. “Smiths or Cure” is quite akin to “Coke or Pepsi,” as the first pair are almost as similar as the latter two, in terms of the range of possible music choices. The ham-handedness of that cool claim speaks volumes.

    Personally, I rather like both The Smiths and The Cure, though the former had the good sense to call it a day before hitting their inherent right wall.

  3. The saddest part is that the douchebag who felt compelled to write this on the whiteboard is convinced that he/she is a superior human being relative to the masses whose tastes and brand preferences this workplace engineers. Because, you know, the middle class brands and preferences are so much hipper and cooler. Nothing like this lame working class stuff, no sir.

    I have many garments of delicate wool cloth in my closet. This proves that I am worth more and am more secure in society than the migrant worker and his frumpy flannels, right? RIGHT?

    Oh, well, I better stop procrastinating, need that paycheck for the dry cleaning bills…

  4. But seriously, Michael…the paragraph you have cited here is a perfect distillation of a world gone completely, utterly mad.

    ‘Daddy, what where you doing when the world went completely to shit?’

    ‘Well, son, to be honest…I’d rather not talk about it.’

    ‘Mommy says you even had fake books on your…’

  5. Nerc and Marla are right, yet I am once again chastened that bands whose tunelessness and ear for grating non-melodies delight others, making me think that cultural taste preferences probably match up, in a sinister marketing way, with what’s left of politics, and that part of me will still always be Pop.
    The false bohemianism of the manager-approved hipster-scrawl – not “Negri or NRA?” brings me to wonder how to think life will turn out for this dude:
    Nature versus (corporate) nurture – which will win for this generation?

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