Beyond the Brand

Curator's Note

In Sofia Coppola’s new film The Bling Ring, California teens break into celebrities’ homes, grab Manolos and McQueens, and hit the clubs. Of course, for these teens, it’s not about the stuff. It’s about leaching celebrity value and media attention --once they get caught, as of course they do -- to create their own brands. That The Bling Ring is based on a true story only adds to the delicious irony.

Beyond the Brand is a workshop we’re hosting on June 17, 2013 in London, part of this year’s International Communication Association conference. It’s designed to provide resources for scholars to think with, through and past the ubiquity of branded life. As concept, metaphor, technology and communicative logic, brands appear to be everywhere even as they effectively seek to hide their origins. How can we come up with more effective and trenchant definitions and analytical tools to overcome brands’ seeming ubiquity, and to defuse the apparent power of branding in language and in practice?

Over the next four days on In Media Res, we’ll feature summaries of our workshop themes:

Tuesday 18 June: Brands, Knowledge and Surveillance

What do brands “know” about consumers? And how can we find out what they know? How can scholars access the various forms of data collection that industry professionals use to generate brand loyalty?

Wednesday 19 June: Brands and Scholarly Methods/Critique

 How shall we develop critical assessments of brands (and of the promotional industries more generally)? Does the broad concept of “promotional culture” help or hinder specialized academic critique? What role, if any, does the academy play in promoting “brand literacy,” and what might that literacy look like?

Thursday 20 June: Industrial and Institutional Change in Brand Environments

How does branding interact with other promotional professionslike advertising, public relations, lobbying and marketing?How is the growing power of these professions challenging and changing traditional institutions, such as government, the university, etc.?

 Friday 21 June: Brands and Communities of Resistance, Locally and Transnationally

 What forms of resistance, activism and contention toward brands are currently taking place? Conversely, what forms of resistance, activism and contention have recently made use of brand logics and practices to be effective? How might this research contribute to the recent spate of social movement formation and activism worldwide?


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