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Promotional Cultures: The Rise and Spread of Advertising, Public Relations, Marketing and Branding



Promotional Cultures: The Rise and Spread of Advertising, Public Relations, Marketing and Branding

Aeron Davis

ISBN: 978-0-745-63983-3 July 2013 Polity 216 Pages


In the twenty-first century, promotion is everywhere and everything has become promotable: everyday goods and organizations, people and ideas, cultures and futures. This engaging book looks at the rise of advertising, public relations, branding, marketing and lobbying, and explores where our promotional times have taken us.

Promotional Cultures documents how the professions and practices of promotion have interacted with and reshaped so much in our world, from commodities, celebrities and popular culture to politics, markets and civil society. It offers a mix of historical accounts, social theory and documented case studies, including haute couture fashion, Apple Inc., Hollywood film, Jennifer Lopez, the Occupy movement, Barack Obama’s election campaigns, news production and the 2008 financial crisis. Together, these show how promotional culture may be recorded, understood and interpreted.

Promotional Cultures will appeal to students and scholars of media and culture, sociology, politics, anthropology, social and industrial history.

Detailed Contents vi

Preface and Acknowledgements x

1 Introduction 1

Part I: Producers, Consumers and Texts

2 Production: Industry and it's Critics 15

3 Audiences and Consumers 34

4 Texts: Situating the Text in Promotional Culture 51

Part II: Commodities, Media and Celebrity

5 Commodities: Promotional Influences on the Creation of Stuff 73

6 News Media and Popular Culture: Promotion and Creative Autonomy 92

7 Celebrity Culture and Symbolic Power 112

Part III: Politics, Markets and Society

8 Politics and Political Representation 135

9 Conflict and Pluralism in Civil Society 154

10 Economies, Speculative Markets and Value 173

11 Conclusions 191

References 203

Index 237

'Aeron Davis ranges far and wide in media and cultural studies and beyond to bring us this erudite and thoughtful book on what "promotional culture" means in economics, politics, civil society and celebrity culture. Ecumenical, yet retaining a sharp critical edge, this is the best single account of promotional culture I have seen.'
David Miller, University of Bath

'Drawing on a range of critical intellectual traditions in the study of production, consumption, culture and finance, Davis discusses the rise and penetration of digital-age promotional industries in the service of capitalist commodification. His study will give readers grounding in the theories and debates that dissect the social relations, culture and dialectics of commodity production and the management of consumerism.'
Gerald Sussman, Portland State University

'Promotional Cultures is a wide-ranging and accessible examination of the different advertising, ownership synergy, public relations and other marketing and promotional forces in our lives. Aeron Davis usefully examines different intellectual traditions that have sought to understand and critique promotional ethos and practices. He also applies these traditions and his own insights to areas in which large-scale promotion is systemic, including activism, media and finance.'
Matthew P. McAllister, Penn State University

'In another seminal effort to rethink media and communicative power, Aeron Davis dispenses with the idea that the promotional industries are essential to the well-being of markets, democracy, independent media and our own lives.'
Dwayne Winseck, Carleton University
  • A critical introduction to promotional culture that brings together literature from sociology, media studies, and economics as well more professionally oriented books on marketing and PR
  • A necessary intervention in the field, with no real competing texts as PR and promotional culture is largely neglected in media textbooks
  • Filled with up-to-date, international examples including haute couture fashion, the Occupy movement and Obama’s election campaigns
  • Interdisciplinary text that examines promotional similarities and patterns across industrial, political, social and cultural life