Friday 24 February 2012


Stuck for an hour at Twickenham railway station I studied the advertisements. The two largest both use classical imagery to promote companies which can turn you into a millionaire without manufacturing anything, doing anything useful, or contributing anything whatsoever to the human project/life on planet Earth. 

If you choose Schroder Investments Limited, you are invited to see yourself as hiring a Roman mercenary soldier who will excel in ‘defending your income’. But if you feel financially predatory rather than defensive, then you choose ‘ARTEMIS the PROFIT HUNTER’, aka Artemis Fund Managers Limited and Artemis Investment Management LLP.

In a dazzlingly offensive and cynical advertising campaign, which has won prizes for the agency which designed it (offputtingly called Libertine of Soho), ARTEMIS encourages the investor to see himself (and ‘he’ is emphatically male) as a neo-colonial white man stalking the globe. He is armed with guns and rifles and disgorges petrol fumes from old-fashioned aeroplanes, in blind pursuit of defenceless wildlife—‘profits’ portrayed as living but terrified birds and animals. 

The campaign pointedly puts two fingers up at ‘bleeding heart’ capitalists. It laughs at those who worry about the third world debt crisis or have sentimental greenish tendencies, such as criticising the use of non-sustainable fossil fuels or wanting to protect endangered species. 

This is not the sort of company which cares about being seen to be politically correct: enterprises in which it has invested include the Nigerian-dictatorship-supporters at Royal Dutch Shell, Wal-Mart (child labour in the Honduras and largest gun retailer in the USA), and GlaxoSmithKline (which sued the South African Government for trying to supply AIDS victims with affordable medicine). Not to mention Coca-Cola, against which US United Steelworkers filed a lawsuit as they have reason to think its franchised bottle plant in Colombia hires  paramilitaries to suppress union activities.
Yet ARTEMIS THE PROFIT HUNTER has managed to insinuate its unsavoury ideology into primary schools. Seven-year-olds are encouraged to enter a competition in which they draw or paint a cute, enterprising Profit Hunter about to slaughter a Profit--a small vulnerable zoological specimen which is obviously Asking For it. You can see the results at How very wholesome. There is clearly no more use for drawing Robin Hood about to steal from the rich to give to the poor, who was the sort of hero I was asked to admire and draw at the age of seven during my own childhood (admittedly in Nottingham).

I do have a warning for William Littlewood, legendary fund manager at ARTEMIS who previously made a 20m fortune when scarcely out of nappies at JUPITER Investments. At Bristol University he did not study Classics, but Economics, which explains why he so ignorantly risked incurring the disfavour of a mighty goddess when he named his company. 

The goddess Artemis protects the young, the weak, the defenceless, the female, wild animals, and the unsullied purity of the unploughed planet from predatory aggressors.  In Aeschylus’ Agamemnon she gets very angry because two imperial eagles kill a pregnant hare, and her wrath leads directly to the death of the human monarch, Agamemnon, symbolised by the eagles. He is murdered in a bath.

Other fates suffered by the villains who arrogantly rape the land and creatures protected by Artemis include being blinded, gored to death by wild boars, bitten by a scorpion, torn to pieces by your own dogs, and getting the plague. Littlewood may even be turned into a bear or (heaven forfend)  a girl, the fate that befell the Cretan Sipriotes when he tried to rape the Mistress of Wild Animals. CAVEAT VENATOR.

1 comment:

  1. Great piece thanks. It is so easy to let advertising imagery just insinuate itself into your mind without actually looking and thinking what values it reinforces!