Brands go Slow

These days, everyone is jumping on the Slow bandwagon – even some who don’t really belong there.

Many brands are now using the language of Slow to sell us stuff. Audi launched a sedan in Britain a few years ago under the slogan: The slowest car we’ve ever built. And they didn’t mean their new sedan would struggle to overtake a Lada on the highway. They mean we built this car with care and attention – when they say the “slowest” car we’ve ever built, they really mean the “best” car we’ve ever built.

The Orange telephone network ran a campaign saying “Good things happen when your phone is switched off.” Not an act of commercial suicide: they know we will always use our phones. But Orange wanted to link itself to the growing desire people have to unplug from technology so the can slow down, enjoy the moment and connect with other people in a way that is deeper and more meaningful than a text message.

The Kit Kat campaign to set up No Wi-Fi zones (see picture above) taps into the same vibe.

In a similar vein, Haagen Dazs recently launched a new line of ice creams in Spain. You have to take the ice cream out of the freezer and wait 12 minutes for the centre to soften and for the flavours to develop. And the advertising campaign made a virtue of slowing down and waiting for that perfect moment of pleasure.

In 2011 the Paris Fair (La Foire de Paris) chose “Slow Time” as its theme.

What does all this mean for the Slow revolution? It cuts both ways.

The danger is that companies and brands use “Slow” to sell products and services that have nothing to do with the Slow philosophy. This is inevitable. And some are already stretching the link with Slow to breaking point. One example: last year, the world’s first Slow Mall opened in downtown Santiago, Chile.

But I think people are intelligent enough to see through the dishonest use of the Slow creed. And on the positive side: the fact that so many brands are using Slow to market themselves, even if they are not Slow, shows just how far this cultural revolution has spread.

It also adds to the chorus in favour of deceleration. Advertising is the wallpaper of our lives, and it usually bombards us with the message that there is never enough time and we have to buy more and more things to help us to do everything faster and faster.

My hope is that introducing even just a few ads that sing the virtues of slowing down makes it easier for us to contemplate putting on the breaks.

What do you think?