If I had just waited a few more weeks, I could have made Stephen Colbert’s SuperPack pack the centerpiece of last month’s post about Super PAC packaging.
Colbert recently announced (facetiously?) that Ben & Jerry’s was coming out with a limited edition “SuperPack Pack” of his “Americone Dream” flavor. Whether or not this is true, it pleases me to see the packaging implications of “Super PAC” come to the fore.
Americone Dream’s package design has already undergone a few iterations. An earlier version had a red & white striped flag background, rather than the Ben & Jerry’s new blue skies. The new “SuperPack” pack also appears to now have red, white & blue banners, festooned under the lid.
To my way of thinking, Colbert’s Super PAC (“Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow”) is a brilliant piece of popular conceptual art. By legally forming a bona fide “Political Action Committee” with comedic rather than (strictly) political intentions, Colbert uses a similar stratagem to that of the “N.E. Thing Company”—artists who officially formed a corporation in 1966, hiring a corporate graphic designer to design their corporate logo, etc. and yet who had entirely non-corporate motivations for doing so.
Like N.E. Thing Co., Colbert used an existing legal entity (a Super PAC, in his case) as an opportunity to subvert and critique an institution while feigning participation. N.E. Thing attended trade shows and sent out corporate faxes. (The fax/facsimile was the latest thing in corporate communications in 1966, just as the Super PAC/Political Action Committee is the latest thing in political fund-raising in 2012.) Colbert ran faux political ads on television and tried (belatedly) to get on the ballot on the South Carolina Republican primary.
(A video of Colbert’s SuperPack pack announcement follows, after the fold…)