Submitted by Jose Carlos P. Marin 2008-20307 UP Diliman
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the images featured in this gallery.
As a result of the longevity and enduring nature of his works, the word Shakespeare is no longer just bound to the existence of a man named William Shakespeare several centuries ago. Shakespeare has become an umbrella term that refers not only to the man and his works but the very influence that they have had on the world. It goes without saying that Shakespeare, among the many other things that he has become through the centuries, is a very potent status symbol. One of the easiest ways to intellectualize almost anything you have to say is to quote Shakespeare’s works. Yet, I believe that Shakespeare’s role as a status symbol is something to be celebrated and lamented at the same time. As a result of Shakespeare being a status symbol, people have come to believe that he is significant and important without seeing for themselves exactly why that is so. How many people who know who Shakespeare is have actually read one of his plays cover to cover? While it is true that being a status symbol grants Shakespeare immeasurable significance and ensures that his works will remain relevant for the foreseeable future, it has also led to a rather shallow understanding of his legacy. This is especially true for Shakespeare’s continued presence in advertisement.
The fact that anything attached to Shakespeare automatically assumes an intellectually elevated existence is not lost upon the heads of marketing in corporations the world over. Thus, advertisements that utilize Shakespeare’s words and images have never gone out of style. After all, it is the continued presence of Shakespeare in the public’s consciousness that grants these advertisements their marketing potential. It is an amusing irony that the various advertisements that harness Shakespeare’s immense presence and, in doing so, re-affirm his significance to the general public are the ones that provide the least amount of information about him. Not to mention that the products themselves hardly have anything to do with Shakespeare.
The various print ads featured in the images provided barely feature more than a line or image from Shakespeare’s works. Yet, they were deemed significant enough to convince people to purchase the product they were attached to. The heads of marketing of these companies certainly thought so. Several of these advertisements come from as long ago as the early years of the 20th century (almost a hundred years ago). Perhaps, more than anything, it is a testament to just how influential Shakespeare is that just his slightest involvement in anything grants it importance and superiority.