En-route from work one evening, I was quite literally stopped in my tracks. As clichéd as it may sound (as a result of the infatuation with the phrase in books, TV shows and even fairy tales) I was simply so stunned by something that my feet stopped moving. What was this something, this combatant to my inertia? A poster.
Without knowing what the poster was about or even who it was produced by, it should be already obvious that this poster had done its job. To cut through the clutter and noise of the commercial visual landscape and actually register in a person’s mind is no mean feat – to start affecting their behaviour immediately is on another level. This poster had kidnapped my consciousness, it had transported me to another reality, another plane of existence, where all light and sound and matter was gone and all that was and ever would be were the poster, and me, stopped in my tracks, staring at it.
It was the words that truly drew me in. The major picture was pleasant, easy-on-the-eye, sure. But this picture didn’t, couldn’t, have the devastating effect that those words had on me. Their simplicity was striking; the complexity of what they meant for my life was startling. “Angus the Third”.
The Angus Burger – no, the Angus entity- is an idea created by a company in order to make money. It is completely artificial (no, I’m not talking about the cheese). This is not a historical culture based on a shared belief – the concept hasn’t been formed by weather patterns or local wildlife, hunting rituals or ceremony. But this IS a culture, a mass-market, freeze dried, deep-fried culture.
This is why the addition of a third Angus burger into my world had such an effect – had it been a new toothpaste or washing powder I wouldn’t have looked twice, but this was an event which affected the culture which I am a part of.
And as is often the case with culture, it’s not the physical realm which is significant. Sure I like Angus burgers. They are salty and satisfying, cheap and convenient. However it is not the physical characteristics of the burger that causes my infatuation with them. Nor was it the physical elements of the new burger which caused such a shock to my system. It was the concept of Angus, the image, the idea.
I won’t attempt to analyse the factors which are responsible for the creation of this culture, nor will I presume to lecture companies and brands on the mechanism for reproducing it. But it was this culture, not any one physical element of the product, which was responsible for not only the sale of two Angus burgers that very evening, but also for me pulling out my phone, taking a photo, posting it on Twitter, picture messaging it to my friend with the phrase “Not even fucking kidding” and keeping the culture alive.