Sunday, 25 March 2007

Textual Summaries

I've been distilling the main concepts of the texts I've been reading to succinct portions for adding to my writing later. In some cases (Ellen Seiter, for example) I have created a few different pieces, because I know I will need to use different fascets of the theory in different contexts in my own work.

Here are a few:

Ries, Al & Laura
The Origin of Brands

The Ries’ approach to branding and marketing consumables, is particularly focussed on creating new categories for brands. A compelling argument is made for new products to be given two names, firstly for the category which, in order to thrive or even thrive, must be utterly singular and unique (cola) and the second name the brand (Coke). The Ries’ place a strong emphasis on divergence, as opposed to convergence concepts. Accordingly, a product can occupy the top of the range, or the bottom, but the "mushy middle" is no man's land, and doesn't sell. The first product in a category usually stakes an unshakable lead in the category, even if the next product that comes along is of superior quality – a phenomenon the Ries’ term "survival of the firstest". The only option for a product which is second in the category, they argue, is for it seem to be, and become, the opposite of the market leader in every conceivable way.

The ultimate goal of a brands, say the Reis’, is to establish loyalty beyond reason in the consumer.

Walkerdine, Valerie
Daddy’s Girl. Young Girls and Popular Culture


Even though publishing this text prior to the explosion of the Tween marketing phenomena, Walkerdine is writing of the "little girl who doesn't think or act like one; she's a child with the mind of an adult.'

Primarily concerned with class, Walkerdine mines the aspirations and fantasy life of working glass girl children, and their relationship with popular media to expose the vulnerability of working class girls to the paradigm of the orphan girl who is rescued to a life of luxury, love and comfort, primarily as a conduit for oedipal themes – especially, the relationship or otherwise between girls and their fathers. Often, Walkerdine counters, this results in characterising the mother as an inteloper or competition. Walkerdine touches on the inevitable direct or coded sexualisation of little girls this engenders.

Seiter, Ellen
Sold Separately. Parents and Children in Consumer Culture.


Seiter considers the horror of children's media as educated middle class snobbery primarily over the kitchiness, or girliness of the conten, which ultimately excludes the poor, who she believes have little choice in entertaining their children. Informing children that the things they like to watch are tasteless and of little worth belittles them, and underestimates their analytical powers. Seiter believes that children are media-literate, and know when they are being persuaded to consume, via advertising or marketing ploys. Indeed, Seiter argues that kids engage and challenge what they see, as they see it.

Seiter believes that being able to discuss the latest cartoon or TV show is the currency of childhood, and depriving them of it disadvantages them in child culture. Additionally, children’s programing is often designed to appeal to the rebellious side of kids, and therefore is not really designed to appeal to adults at all - the fact that adults find it revolting should make it all the more appealing to kids who adore all things cheeky and subversive.

Seiter's discussion of marketing of toys through time gives voice to the way in which girls and minorities have been relegated to stereotypical roles, and the white boy has traditionally been the only child to be challenged through play - to build, discover and learn. Girls, and minorities have traditionally been kept busy playing at keeping house and nurturing others, or languishing in the periphery, observing the white boy child at play.

Seiter makes a good point that adults abhore the consumer tendancies and desires in their children, despite having their own. She believes this is injust to children, who also desire consumables just as adults do, debunking at the same time the notion of ‘purity of consumption’, the purchasing of necessities only: Something adults rarely, if ever, do.

Seiter draws attention to concept of chase and flight in consumption of lower social classes seeking to emulate the upper classes, who move on to something else before the goal can be achieved.

In advertising, Seiter notes, boy's play takes place in an imagined place which does not resemble the home, kitchen or other domestic saces, whereas girls are invariably depicted playing in their bedrooms.


Roberts, Kevin
Lovemarks, The Future Beyond Branding

Roberts contends that the most successful brands establish an emotional connection with consumers by engaging with them in a sensual way, terming the most skilled of these brands “Lovemarks”. A similar concept that the Ries’ develop, but term “loyalty beyond reason”.

1 comment:

michael.hill said...

Good to see this form of summarising your reading and understanding of the theoretical content of the reading.

I think it would be good to start transposing this text into a formal thesis document asap with this section becoming the basis for the Review of Literature chapter and the Bibliography.