lululemon says “zeitgeist be damned!”

Today, the Globe has informed me that Lululemon, Canadian-born vendor of stretchy pants for soccer moms, ladies who lunch, and I guess maybe the odd well-off yoga-doing person, has a new slogan on its shopping bags: “Who is John Galt?”

This, of course, is from Ayn Rand’s sophomoric and interminable Altas Shrugged, one of several books Rand wrote devoted the values of individualism and consumption. It should come as no surprise that any for-profit corporation has this mentality; most just don’t say it so bluntly. I am not going to spend time here arguing with Ayn Rand. There are plenty of sites on the Internet that do so very nicely. And I am not even going to point out how strange it is to conflate libertarian values with those of yoga. For some fantastic comments on this odd confluence, check those that have been left on the Lululemon blog.

What is surprising, however, is that Lululemon executives have chosen this as a slogan now. At a time when we have seen Occupy movements spring up around the world, when there is a growing awareness of the divide between the 99 percent and the 1 percent, when the public is fed up by massive bailouts for the banks that have contributed to the economic mess we are seeing all throughout the West, when we’ve had enough of the bonuses received by the very people that have driven the US and other economies into the ground, when the people are speaking out and rising up against the privatization of infrastructure and institutions, Lululemon has chosen to go against the Zeitgeist. Dramatically. Which is pretty interesting.

Are they paying attention? Maybe they are, and there’s something I’ve missed, something that promises today’s public will love this sentiment. But I don’t think so. I think, at least in Canada, that the reaction will be more negative than positive, and that it won’t be long before the Lululemon bag returns to its previous vanilla feel-good sentiments.

“Let’s get sweaty, bendy, toasty, happy!”


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