Tuesday, August 15, 2006

heavenly brands

This is a shrine to the Jade Emperor in Stanley, Hong Kong. On the offering table there were the usual incense and food offerings - including Fox's Glacier Fruits.

(Glacier Fruits are a perfect choice as they offer the traditional altar gifts of fruit and sweets but combined in one handy, long lasting format).

In Asia, brands' influence doesn't just stop in this world. In Singapore during the Hungry Ghost festival people leave food out for the wandering ghosts to 'eat'. It's usually traditional things like rice flour cakes but one shop I regularly passed would leave out a McDonalds Fillet o' Fish. Coca-Cola and various beer brands would also make an appearance. In Japan it's traditional to leave out the deceased's favourite indulgences on the grave so its not unusual to see OneCup sake and various brands of cigarettes sitting out in cemeteries. In Chinese funerals its also common to burn 'grave goods' - replicas of goods the deceased may want in the afterlife and I've seen grave replicas of BMWs and Nokia phones. Gives a new meaning to 'lifecycle' marketing [rimshot SFX]. But I do find those blurs between the sacred and the mundane interesting as it gives a homely feel to proceedings, a sense of proximity and familiarity both to the rituals and those being remembered. Also another example, if needed, of how brands have permeated modern Asian life and after-life.

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