Consumed by Affects: Kwentong Jollibee [Jollibee Stories], Happy Objects, and the Formation of Intimate Publics

Jeremy De Chavez

DOI: https://test.crossref.org/10.13185/KK2022.003804
Published Date: Feb 28, 2022

Abstract

In 2016, the Jollibee Food Corporation, a Philippine multinational company that owns the world’s largest Asia-based fast-food chain Jollibee, launched Kwentong Jollibee [Jollibee Stories], a highly successful digital marketing campaign. Kwentong Jollibee advertisements have a reputation for being able to express the shared sentiments of a diverse collective. Typically simple and highly sentimental narratives, those advertisements promote good intentions and feelings as reliable and facile antidotes to everyday problems, cultivating a commodity culture that encourages an irrational trust in the powers of positive affects. In this paper, I examine the role of positive feelings and affects in synchronizing private and public feelings and in conjoining practices of capitalist consumption with optimistic relations to the future. Drawing primarily from the work of Lauren Berlant and Sara Ahmed, I argue that those advertisements are able to construct an “intimate public,” a process aided by the circulation of “happy objects” that shape low-resolution fantasies of belonging and resilience. I offer readings of representative Kwentong Jollibee advertisements to elaborate on how capitalist structures opportunistically manipulate emotions and feelings to create, address, and expand their market, and even to insidiously commodify experience itself by forming affective communities that offer a respite from a world experienced as compromised, cold, and cruel.

Keywords

advertising, affect theory, happy objects, intimate public, Jollibee Stories

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

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International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Professor
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faruk
Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
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University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)