As the market for smartphones continues to expand, so does the range of mobile accessories available to consumers. Duracell’s Powermat provides wireless charging and supplies backup power to a variety of popular devices. It’s a handy product. It’s also subject to an ad campaign that conflates electric energy with personal power, delivering a mixed and somewhat uncomfortable message.
Hip-hop mogul Jay-Z may be an investment partner in Powermat, but he’s also the “face and voice” of Duracell for this particular venture. A quick web search delivers his mission statement: “I believe in the future of wireless energy and I believe that Duracell Powermat is the company to bring on the revolution.” So much for Gil Scott-Heron’s 1974 album that inspired the Hip-hop credo “The revolution will not be televised.”
But none of this is news, just a side note. Hip-hop became mainstream long ago, just as Punk went from street-level rebellion to yet another garment on the racks. Once a price tag accompanies an idea, an expiration date is set. The concept of selling out, however, may be less familiar to the current generation.
“Never be powerless,” says Duracell in glowing text across the face of Jay-Z. The dutifully trademarked slogan nonetheless demonstrates ownership and therefore the power of the advertiser over the customer. Of course, the customer has power too; they don’t have to buy it. But the message is seductive and taps into an essential human fear: death, the ultimate lack of power. Indeed, Jay-Z looks worried or at the very least cautious. His eyes avert as if responding to a potential threat but also direct us to the “24-hour power system,” our solution to feelings of powerlessness, or in this day and age, being disconnected from the internet.