LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 14: Olajide William Olatunji aka KSI (L) and Logan Paul onstage at the KSI VS. Logan Paul 2 - launch press conference held at Gilbert Lindsey Plaza on September 14, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/Getty Images)
Artillery Row

I hate PRIME with a passion

Where does advertising stop and entertainment begin?

Every morning, I wake up, climb out of bed, walk to the kitchen and crack open a chilled energy drink. You might think I’m being silly when I say “every morning”. No, I mean every morning. It’s expensive. It wears my heart out. It massacres my gut flora. But I love the combination of taste and caffeine. If I don’t have it I feel very mildly bereft.

I’m a potential customer for “PRIME” then — a line of sports and energy drinks promoted by the famous social media influencers Logan Paul and KSI. It caused chaos in supermarkets over the Christmas holidays as young fans flocked to empty the shelves of products. Aldi soon ran out. Such was the demand in one shop that it was being sold for £10 a bottle.

I haven’t drunk PRIME. Perhaps it tastes good. But I hate it. I hate the product. I hate the people who promote it. I hate the people who produce it. I want to have every can and bottle of the stuff put in a giant shipping container and launched into space. 

Logan Paul — whose career triumphs include filming a dead man in a Japanese forest and losing his fans millions of dollars when he launched an NFT project with a bunch of con men — and KSI — who, to his credit, hasn’t done such things — want you to believe that backing PRIME is an almost spiritual thing for them. 

We created PRIME to showcase what happens when rivals come together as brothers and business partners,” their “About” page announces (the pair had a couple of lucrative boxing matches against each other). Inspirational! Some of you might think that the pals founded the company for mere financial reasons, but no! It was to illustrate the virtues of cooperation. It’s a veritable “Rocky and Apollo Creed” moment!

PRIME, these comrades announce, intends to “fill the void where great taste meets function”. I don’t know what language that is but it isn’t English. “We’ve been humbled by the process of creating a real brand & surpassing some of the biggest beverage companies in the world,” the brothers in arms announce, “As underdogs, we always cherish the opportunity to show the world what’s possible.” Yes! If you can only gain millions of followers on YouTube then you too might be able to launch a soft drinks company. Think big, kids!

Paul and KSI have been marketing their products with clips in which the bosom buddies scream like six-year-old children about their alleged nutritional advantages. These are overstated — but even if that was untrue it would be embarrassing to watch grown men have some kind of religious experience over the fact that their soft drink contains no sugar. (It contains artificial sweeteners instead.)

Famous people advertising stuff is nothing new, of course. We’ve all grown up with athletes advertising fast food as if they refuel after a contest with a massive blob of salt and seed oils. We’ve all seen Hollywood stars advertising banks and mobile phones after their wives divorced them and the child support bill came through.

But what is depressing is that social media was meant to give us an alternative to old corporate means of creating and promoting information and entertainment. We didn’t need the suits obstructing and corrupting our creativity any more, maaaaaan. We were independent! We were free!

Free to market even more. In fact, the stars of a new age have ended up having a deeper mercenary streak than the stars of old. In the age of the “influencer” it is hard to know where the advertising ends and the entertainment begins. George Clooney might promote Nespresso but no one could mistake an advert for a film. These compatriots want you to think that a line of soft drinks is some kind of passion project.

People are quite willing to accept inferior standards

Who can blame them? It is obvious that people are quite willing to accept inferior standards as long as “their” content creator has his or her name on it. So, we get boxing matches in which influencers trade best-in-their-gym-guy punches with old MMA fighters, presented as if they are the next Ali/Frazier or Tyson/Holyfield. KSI was meant to box Dillon Danis — a gurning idiot with a background in jiu jitsu, whose fame entirely results from his friendship with Conor McGregor — next week. With all due respect to KSI, who seems like a decent chap, you would have needed the brain of a tuna melt to find this fight compelling.

We get music which could only appeal to interrogators at Guantanamo Bay. We get these goddamn NFT projects — influencers and NFTs combining as proof that people are not only vulnerable to being sold garbage but actively enjoy it.

Again, I haven’t drunk PRIME. Perhaps it tastes like angels’ tears. Perhaps it has the rejuvenating qualities of a cold dip in a waterfall in the Garden of Eden. But I hate that kids — and adults! — are scrambling to buy it because of whose glassy eyes are on the adverts. No one wants to sound like the hippies who had cardiac arrests because Bob Dylan fancied playing a few chords on an electric guitar. But there is at least some extent to which cynicism is a matter of pride — a matter of showing that you didn’t ask for bullshit and you don’t like how it tastes. 

Now, that’s a good idea: BULLSHIT. A new sports drink that gives you the power of an ox and also aids digestion. Whose dumb face can I plaster all over it?

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