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New Vocabularies, Old Ideas

Culture, Irishness and the Advertising Industry

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Neil O'Boyle

Advertisements are often viewed as indices of cultural change, just as the advertising industry is often imagined as innovative and transformative. Advancing from an alternative position, which borrows much from practice-based research, this book instead highlights the routinisation of practices and representations in advertising. Drawing extensively from his own study, the author uses Irishness to investigate the relationship between cultural symbolism in advertising and the cultural vocabularies of advertising practitioners. While globalisation and immigration to Ireland have putatively unhinged taken-for-granted understandings of Irish identity, the author argues that representations of Ireland and Irishness in the global context continue to draw from a stock of particularisms and that advertising practitioners continue to operate with largely essentialist understandings of culture and identity. As the first of its kind in Ireland, this book makes a case for renewed attention to advertising by academic scholars and promotes the benefits of interdisciplinary research.

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Chapter 2 The Irish Advertising Industry and Internationalisation 27

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Chapter 2 The Irish Advertising Industry and Internationalisation Adland’s global mantra: global consolidation1 Where capitalism goes, advertising goes2 Pratt (2006: 1883) argues that while advertising researchers have proven adept at analysing its textual forms and more recently have begun to investi- gate the domain of production, few have been attentive to structural dimen- sions of the industry, such as international regulation and governance and above all, the growing power of the major advertising groups. He highlights, for example, that several large American, Japanese, and British advertising agencies and holding companies have concentrated ownership and control and now ef fectively dominate the industry worldwide. While in this book I am primarily interested in producer discourse and practice and in using Irishness as an analytical bridge between advertising and advertisements, I also wish to say something about industry form and structure (albeit to a much lesser extent). The internationalisation of advertising does not just refer to agency mergers and consolidation but also to the development of global markets and transnational practices. As Kemper (2001: 8) points out, the advertising business is a community as well as a profession; “that community is worldwide and in many ways stronger than the ties that join the advertising profession to its public”. Hence, it is perhaps useful to first establish the embeddedness of Irish advertising within wider organisational and professional networks before shifting our attention, in later chapters, to its cultural rootedness. 28 Chapter 2 It goes without saying that in addition to those working in...

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