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Pop Brands

Branding, Popular Music, and Young People

Series:

Nicholas Carah and Nicholas Carah

Corporations engage young people and musicians in brand-building activities. These activities unfold in media-dense social spaces. Social networking sites, the user-generated content of web 2.0, live music events, digital cameras and cell phones are all used in constructing valuable brands. This book addresses the integration of popular music culture, corporate branding, and young people’s mediated cultural practices. These intersections provide a rich site for examining how young people build brands within spaces and practices that they perceive as meaningful. The book is based on extensive ethnographic empirical research, drawing on participant observation, textual analysis and interviews with young people, musicians, marketers and other participants in the cultural industries. Contemporary theories of marketing and branding are brought together with critical and cultural accounts of mediated social life. The book explores the distinctive concerns and debates of these different perspectives and the lively interface between them.

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Chapter Seven

Extract

Brand Builders Professional brand builders The flexible relationships between corporations, marketers and cul- tural participants reflect the mobile nature of contemporary brands. The cultural industries are a dynamic and fragmented network of contractors, agencies and people providing content and labor. In this chapter I examine the work of brand-building by marketers and other professionals in the culture industry. Marketers who craft experien- tial brands aim to empower consumers by letting them drive the brand-building action at the same time they aim to accumulate capi- tal by strategically exploiting their labor. Marketers and their cultur- al industry partners derive a sense of legitimacy and authenticity about their work from the assumption that the corporations they work for are socially responsible (Deuze, 2007). Marketers construct the narrative that the marketing programs they develop are ethical and socially responsible because they ‘empower’ cultural participants in the process of empowering themselves and the corporations they work for. They also treat their work as instrumental and strategic and meaningful when it generates capital value for the corporation they work for. Experiential brands are the product of a decentralized network of production. The decentralized nature of this cultural workforce is both economically efficient and decreases the likelihood of public discus- sions about the role of corporations in social life. McRobbie (2002, p. 519) argues that ‘there is little time, few existing mechanisms for or- ganization, and anyway, no workplace for a workplace politics to de- velop’ in the flexible, ‘speeded up,’ constantly changing spaces of...

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