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Promotional Cultures

Promotional Cultures

The Rise and Spread of Advertising, Public Relations, Marketing and Branding

Aeron Davis

Copyright © Aeron Davis 2013
The right of Aeron Davis to be identified as Author of this Work has been asserted in accordance with the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
First published in 2013 by Polity Press
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ISBN-13: 978-0-7456-7144-4
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Contents

Detailed Contents
Preface and Acknowledgements
  1  Introduction

Part I: Producers, Consumers and Texts
  2  Production: Industry and its Critics
  3  Audiences and Consumers
  4  Texts: Situating the Text in Promotional Culture

Part II: Commodities, Media and Celebrity
  5  Commodities: Promotional Influences on the Creation of Stuff
  6  News Media and Popular Culture: Promotion and Creative Autonomy
  7  Celebrity Culture and Symbolic Power

Part III: Politics, Markets and Society
  8  Politics and Political Representation
  9  Conflict and Pluralism in Civil Society
10  Economies, Speculative Markets and Value
11  Conclusions
References
Index

Detailed Contents

Preface and Acknowledgements
  1  Introduction
Defining promotional culture and promotional intermediaries
The book’s core argument and approach
Chapter outline and wider themes
Part I: Producers, Consumers and Texts
  2  Production: Industry and its Critics
Introduction
The rise of promotional culture: an industry perspective
A history of professional development
The ‘professions’ in history: markets, democracies and media
The rise of promotional culture: critical perspectives
Alternative professional histories
Professions and the reshaping of markets, democracies and media
Conclusion
  3  Audiences and Consumers
Introduction
Countering the productionist thesis and relocating the consumer-audience
Promotional culture as co-created culture
Consumer reappropriation and uses of material and promotional culture
Reappraising the consumer-audience position
Conclusion
  4  Texts: Situating the Text in Promotional Culture
Introduction
Methodological differences in analysing promotional texts
Texts as autonomous reflections
Critical analyses of texts and power
Audiences and open and writerly texts
Poststructuralism, postmodernism and sign-saturated texts
Texts and a return to the material, power and the ideological?
Conclusion
Part II: Commodities, Media and Celebrity
  5  Commodities: Promotional Influences on the Creation of Stuff
Introduction
Top-down and bottom-up perspectives on the creation and promotion of stuff
Promotional culture and the reshaping of commodity uses, firms and markets
Promotional influences on the construction of commodities and the retail experience
Promotional influences on the firm
Promotion and the shaping of markets
Promotion, clothes and fashion: from haute couture to the high street
Promotion and hi-tech goods: from the printing press to the Microsoft–Apple computer wars
Conclusion
  6  News Media and Popular Culture: Promotion and Creative Autonomy
Introduction
Promotional culture and independent news journalism
Promotion and entertainment media: music and television
Promotional constraints on creative autonomy and cultural outputs
Creativity and autonomy retained
Promotional culture and creative autonomy in the Hollywood film industry
Conclusion
  7  Celebrity Culture and Symbolic Power
Introduction
The growth of celebrity culture and the celebrity industry
Celebrities as a powerless elite
Celebrities, accumulating symbolic capital and forms of power
Celebrity, symbolic capital and political capital: the case of David Cameron
Celebrity, symbolic capital and ideological power: the case of Jennifer ‘J. Lo’ Lopez
Celebrity, symbolic capital and economic capital: the case of Tiger Woods
Part III: Politics, Markets and Society
  8  Politics and Political Representation
Introduction
Democracies, promotional politics and the crisis of representation
A crisis of representation in democracies
The rise of promotional culture in politics
Promotional politics, managed media and citizenship
US party politics, political marketing and representation
UK politics, promotional professionalization and the mediatization of parties and politicians
Conclusion
  9  Conflict and Pluralism in Civil Society
Introduction
The rise and spread of professional campaigning in promotional civil society
The plurality issue in political sociology debates
The plurality issue in media sociology debates
Trade unions and the promotional battle against Post Office privatization in the UK
Interest groups and the challenge to global poverty: the Make Poverty History campaign
Taking on the power of global finance and the 1 per cent: the Occupy movement
Conclusion
10  Economies, Speculative Markets and Value
Introduction
Markets, actors and value: economic rationality, sociological irrationality and promotional markets
Neo-classical, orthodox economics
Heterodox economics, social and cultural perspectives
Promotion and markets
The promotion of financial products, financial markets and financialization
Selling financial markets, free markets and financialization to governments
The over-promotion of companies and stock markets to outside investors: the 2000 dot.com boom
The over-promotion of credit, debt and financial products to financiers: the 2008 financial crisis
Conclusion
11  Conclusions
Individualism as a dominant discourse
Trust, certainty and values
Media logic, mediation and mediatization
Marketization, neo-liberalism and Anglo-American promotional capitalism
Risk, creativity and innovation
Democracy, politics, information and power
Final thoughts? What now?
References
Index

Preface and Acknowledgements

Promotional Cultures has been many years in the making and has had multiple inspirations and sources of advice. My early research focused on public relations, news media and political communication. Since then I have looked at promotional practices and mediated consumption in several settings, including the trade union movement, the corporate and financial sectors, and party politics. At the same time, my teaching and interests have wandered across popular culture, the cultural industries, literary theory, social and industrial history, anthropology, and economic and political sociology. In 2003 I began putting these varied interests together in a course called ‘Promotional Culture’ (taking the title from Andrew Wernick’s 1991 book). My knowledge of advertising, marketing and branding was extended, as was my reading around promotion in media, culture, consumption and everyday commodities markets. The course, like this book, offers only brief introductions to the actual practices of these professions. Its main aim is to try and observe and think about them historically and socially. How have they grown and come to influence people, media, culture, organizations, occupational fields and social networks? These are the core concerns driving this book.

This book will appeal to anyone interested in the rise of promotional culture. It should also draw in anyone interested in seeing how promotional imperatives and practices influence social relations professionally and personally. Promotion is always there, working visibly or invisibly, whether one is drawn to celebrities and fashion, popular music and film, politics and campaigning, or goods markets and high finance (and many other things besides). The book is written for advanced students and scholars in departments of media and culture, sociology, politics, anthropology and social history. Although not designed specifically for practitioners and business school-style courses, it should still have much to offer them. It is full of industry histories and sources, statistical information, and case studies.

I have many people to thank. The first of these are Andrea Drugan, Lauren Mulholland and everyone at Polity. As well as offering useful advice and encouragement, Andrea persevered with me over several years of delayed delivery. The many friends, colleagues and external advisors who have offered advice, assistance and/or moral support along the way include Peter van Aelst, Olivier Baisnee, Rod Benson, Lisa Blackman, Andy Chadwick, Nick Couldry, Rosemary Crompton, James Curran, Will Dinan, Lee Edwards, Natalie Fenton, Bob Franklin, Des Freedman, Julie Froud, Jonathan Hardy, David Hesmondhalgh, Sukhdev Johal, Anu Kantola, Mike Kaye, Gholam Khiabany, Adam Leaver, Bong-hyun Lee, Jacqui L’Etang, Colin Leys, Celia Lury, Liz McFall, Angela McRobbie, David Miller, Pat Moloney, Liz Moor, Mick Moran, Angela Phillips, Michael Pickering, Mike Savage, Emily Seymour, Nick Sireau, Gerry Sussman, Grahame Thompson, Peter Thompson, Daya Thussu, Catherine Walsh, Karel Williams and Dwayne Winseck. Last of all I must, of course, mention my family, who have had to compete more than they would have liked with this book: Anne, Hannah, Miriam, Kezia, Kelly, Helen and Neville.

Aeron Davis
October 2012

1

Introduction

This book investigates the rise of what Andrew Wernick (1991) first termed promotional culture. It begins by tracing the twentieth-century history of the promotional professions of public relations, lobbying, advertising, marketing and branding. Other early chapters look at promotional texts and consumer interactions with promotional culture. The book then goes on to observe how the professions and practices of promotion have spread and come to influence society more generally.

Throughout, the book asks what part promotion has played in historical transformations and in evolving social relations. Promotional practice was once fairly ad hoc and driven primarily by the selling of goods and services. Now it is professional and systematic. It is also about selling organizations, professions, ideas and people. For industry practitioners, everything is promotable: big or small, public or private, complex or simple, exclusive or common, solid or intangible, present or future. For individuals, too, promotion is part of everyday practices, both in work and in leisure. Over time, promotional imperatives have come to influence the behaviours of whole organizations, professions and institutions. Industry, politics, civil society, media, culture, markets and finance have all accommodated promotional developments, just as they have evolving new technologies or demographic shifts. In so doing, they have changed. The question is how?

Defining promotional culture and promotional intermediaries

To start, some clarification of the terms promotional culture and promotional intermediaries is needed. My definitions relate to active practices. When Wernick (1991) first used the term ‘promotional culture’, he offered a rather broad definition. He argued that ‘culture’ generally had become ‘saturated in the medium of promotion’. No object (image, product or form of communication) could be separated from the promotion of itself and all objects linked to it through communications. All objects are thus connected by ‘an endless chain of mutual reference and implication’. Bourdieu (1984: 359) first used the term ‘cultural intermediaries’, which I have adapted to ‘promotional intermediaries’. In his explanation, he referred to the ‘new petit bourgeoisie’ which were employed ‘in all the occupations involving presentation and representation’, ‘in all the institutions providing symbolic goods and services … and in cultural production and organization’ – in other words, a wide section of society employed in a large range of symbolic activities. My use of these terms is narrower and relates to active promotional practices.

It is the promotional industries which have done most to define promotional practices. The industries include public relations, lobbying, advertising, marketing and branding, as well as those in related professional fields (e.g., pollsters, publicists, speech writers and agents). Promotional intermediaries are those who work in one of these occupations, either for a promotional company, in-house for an organization, or as an independent consultant. Although such occupations can be multifaceted and quite distinct from one another, they also overlap and converge in certain ways. Each is concerned to identify a saleable product (a commodity, message, idea or individual), a potential audience (citizen, consumer, social group, elite decision-maker), a communications medium (formal, informal, mass, digital) and a message. For industry historians, these occupations established themselves as ‘professions’, with identifiable institutions, norms and practices, through the course of the twentieth century (see chapter 2). According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010), in 2008 there were 623,800 people employed as ‘managers’ in ‘advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations and sales’. This was predicted to rise to 704,000 by 2018. According to the UK Office of National Statistics (ONS, 2011), in 2011, 432,000 people were employed directly in marketing, advertising and public relations.* These figures do not include the hundreds of thousands more employed in junior roles or those who work in linked or server professions.

However, promotional culture is not simply reducible to a few recognized professions. As will become apparent, promotional practices have been adopted, to a greater or lesser extent, by many non-promotional occupations. Lawyers, journalists, campaigners, religious leaders and industrialists, to name a few, gain promotional advice and training, and are all capable of using promotional techniques. At another level, ordinary individuals, in their day-to-day experiences, have both grown accustomed to a promotion-rich society and come to internalize and reproduce basic promotional practices. This is not the same thing as saying everything is promotional and everyone is a promotional intermediary. Rather, the point is that active promotional practices are rather more widespread and systematic than they once were. They have become absorbed into day-to-day culture.

The book’s core argument and approach

The book explains and engages with various perspectives on promotional culture. Some of these are quite dismissive when it comes to considering the significance and impact of promotion. Those derived from orthodox economics, or audience or consumer studies, strongly question the influence or effectiveness of promotional practices. Others, in cultural studies and parts of the industry itself, suggest that promotional culture is simply part of wider culture and thus cannot be an independent shaping force. Each therefore downplays the significance of the promotional professions and their activities.

In contrast, I argue that promotional culture’s impact has been rather more substantive. The argument is not just based on the idea that promotional techniques persuade individuals to believe in or buy things they would not otherwise do. This is often the case, although, as decades of effects and audience studies have found, the issues are complex. Promotion frequently fails and may well be more influential in various indirect ways. For example, advertising messages may not convince people to buy a product that promises to make them more attractive or improve their social lives. But such adverts may extend brand awareness, help define what is attractive, or link acts of consumption to social relationships. However, such debates are a relatively small part of the book’s broader position.

The larger point about promotional culture’s influence is based on the notion that individuals and organizations have become more promotionally oriented. That is to say, they give promotion a greater priority, more resources and more time. Similarly, promotional practices have spread to a number of occupations and settings which once had little or no promotional function. In many instances, strategic decisions to promote specific things are consciously made. But, in many respects, the need to promote has simply become unconsciously internalized by people and institutions. Over time this has had a subtle ‘social-shaping’ influence on those who adopt it. Politics, markets, popular culture and media, civil society, work and individual social relations have all adapted to promotional needs and practices.

At an institutional level, promotional intermediaries and resources are now employed in many areas of society and by many types of organization. Political parties, charities, news organizations, legal firms and police authorities are just as likely to turn to media managers and brand consultants as the producers of soft drinks or widgets. Heads of marketing, advertising and public relations sit on company boards and hold equivalent senior management positions elsewhere. Their objectives are given higher organizational priority. Budgets now routinely include promotional costs. Indeed, the promotional budget in many diverse types of organization has grown several-fold over the decades. For example, between 1987 and 1997, Nike’s promotional budget grew tenfold, to reach almost $1 billion annually (Goldman and Papson, 1998: 4). In 2005, the average Hollywood studio film had come to devote 38 per cent of its budget, or $39 million, to its promotion and distribution. It had been 12 per cent in the 1940s (Epstein, 2005: 7–9). In the UK, over the last three decades, the number of information officers employed in the Ministry of Defence has quadrupled while those in the Metropolitan Police increased elevenfold (COI, 2012). In 2008 the combined campaign expenditure for US presidential candidates, political party committees and political action groups reached $5.98 billion (Magleby, 2011: 19).

Organizational strategy and decision-making, in turn, is influenced by promotional imperatives. Heads of marketing have a significant say on which musical acts, authors, television productions and stars should be supported. Politicians and policies rise and fall, in part, as a consequence of decisions based on expectations of media coverage, focus group and survey data. Promotional skill-sets are increasingly valued within organizations. Individuals, whose primary occupation is not promotion, regularly undergo promotional skills training. It is now common for public figures, be they politicians, CEOs or heads of charities, to have media relations training. Marketing knowledge is now highly desirable for those wishing to move into professions such as financial management or fashion design.

On a personal level, people in mature capitalist democracies both move in promotion-rich environments and have themselves absorbed the practices and cultures of promotion. Everywhere we look and travel we are besieged by promotional images. According to estimates, individuals are bombarded with over 3,000 adverts a day (Twitchell, 1996). These are on billboards, television channels, films, websites, radio stations, public transport and sports stadia. Many everyday objects contain the logos and imagery of their producers. Gap T-shirts, Levi jeans, Apple phones and Chanel perfumes scream out at their consumer-owners with each use. Sponsorship deals and product placements pop up in Hollywood films and television shows. Fast food comes in packaging sporting the latest Disney or Pixar characters.

At the same time, individuals have internalized the practices of self-promotion. Many service companies exploit the ‘emotional labour’ of their employees. How workers dress, their mannerisms, behaviour and scripted speeches are all regarded as key promotional elements of the firm (Hochschild, 1983). Self-promotion continues outside of work too. As Bauman (2007) notes, in order to operate in today’s consumer society, people turn themselves into promotional commodities. Choices of clothes and goods promote the ‘commodity-self’ to others, whether at work or in leisure. CVs, blogs and social networking sites are also used more consciously to present the individual self to a wider audience.

Thus, slowly, and often imperceptibly, promotion has seeped into all areas of society, at the organizational, social and individual levels. In the twenty-first century, promotion has become ubiquitous. It appears everywhere and, at the same time, we no longer notice its presence. Products and product lines have shifted. Organizational structures, budgets and the balance of personnel employed have changed. Ideas, norms and values have altered, influencing elite and wider public understanding and decision-making. Mainstream public media and popular culture have been reshaped.

Investigating the nature and significance of such individual, social and organizational changes is what directs discussion in most of the chapters that follow. These never assume that promotion is an autonomous all-powerful force that ‘determines’ or ‘performs’ all it touches. In fact, the book’s approach involves exploring just how promotion interacts with individuals, organizations and other influences in a more co-determining or dialectical way. Promotion combines and interacts with social, economic, technical and other forces.

Most of the chapters convey a sense of modern history and change in which promotion plays a part. Chapters 2 and 3 look at the histories of the promotional industries as well as evolving patterns of consumption in history. Other chapters delve into the histories of film, fashion, television, electrical goods, celebrity, journalism, political parties, interest groups, the trade union movement and financial markets. In some cases, the history leaps erratically through the twentieth century. In others, it dwells very much on the last three decades, a time when Anglo-American, extreme forms of free-market capitalism have been in the ascendancy. At such a time of market ‘disembeddedness’ (Polanyi, 1944), it is unsurprising that promotional industries and practices have flourished. Much of the time, the focus is on an evolving market, political or cultural field. Biographies, historical overviews and news pieces often combine with academic accounts to fill out these histories. In that respect, a large proportion of the texts cited are not concerned primarily with promotional culture per se but, in diverse ways, still offer insights on its presence and influences.

Under such circumstances, many of the sector studies locate the influences of promotional culture within the general evolution of those fields. It soon becomes clear that the promotional intermediaries employed, and the means by which promotion interacts with a sector, vary considerably. For example, in consumer electronics markets, one crucial aspect of promotion is driven by companies lobbying one another and regulators in an attempt to establish their preferred industry standards and platforms (chapter 5). In the music and film industries, personal agents and company image managers are key to the promotion of new music releases and movies through their stars (chapters 6 and 7). In financial markets, investor relations specialists are vital for finessing company reports and accounting data in order to impress big institutional investors (chapter 10). In politics and civil society (chapters 8 and 9), the need to manage public news media has reshaped organizational campaign strategies and policy preferences. In party politics (chapter 8), film and network television (chapter 6), and the clothing industry (chapter 5), where fashions are volatile, marketing managers are a powerful day-to-day force. But, in all cases, one or more types of promotional intermediary and forms of promotional practice have directly or subtly altered a sector.

At the same time, one can also locate promotional similarities and patterns emerging across the quite diverse occupational fields discussed. For example, Hollywood big budget films and haute couture fashion both share a similar promotional market dynamic with Wedgwood’s eighteenth-century top ceramic ranges. This involves producing high-profile, loss-making products which serve to promote high-volume sales of cheaper, associated goods. Similarly, individual showmanship can be found in many occupational fields. Great economists, such as John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman, spread their new economic orthodoxies as much through popular media as through academic papers. John Paul Gaultier, Steve Jobs and David Cameron have all put great emphasis on impressive media launches, building on personal presentation, to promote their ‘products’. From another promotional perspective, financial products, such as complex derivatives, have much in common with film stars, dotcom companies and modern art. All have become ‘sign-saturated’ goods which generate financial value out of the ‘symbolic value’ (Baudrillard, 1988b) that promotional activity produces. Each may be packaged up to encourage large investment, creating high economic valuations out of myths, narratives and speculation. Clearly, the practices of P. T. Barnum are still alive, and snake-oil salesmen come in many guises.

Before continuing, it is necessary to put down a few provisos and acknowledge some failings. First, although the promotional professions are often discussed as one, they are separate occupations that can operate in very different ways. They share many similar and overlapping functions, but one cannot assume they are the same. Some of the more general points made may be more applicable to certain promotional industries than others. Likewise, some chapters focus more on certain promotional professions than others. Second, this is not a text for budding spin doctors and advertising executives. Industry perspectives are presented and there are lots of useful examples, figures and case studies. However, it is not a how-to-do book that explains the core principles of the promotional disciplines and lays out clear advice on best practice. Nor is it an uncritical, pro-industry account. Third, it is not possible to cover every promotional topic adequately in such a text. Several subjects, such as media effects, agents and publicists, or web-based promotion and social media, could have had a whole chapter but, instead, are dealt with within other discussions. There will also be many key industry figures and scholars who are mentioned only fleetingly or not included at all. Similar gaps and omissions will be apparent in the various sector studies, from fashion and finance to politics and popular culture. Such is the consequence of attempting to cover a wide range of professions and disparate subject matters. I am happy to admit all these faults but hope these will be balanced up by the book’s larger argument and broad subject coverage.

Chapter outline and wider themes

The main argument and approach outlined above runs through the chapters that follow. Each chapter, while contributing to the larger argument, also offers a self-contained review of a subject that can be read alone and often contains alternative interpretive frameworks for understanding and evaluating promotional culture. The first part, Producers, Consumers and Texts, focuses very much on the promotional industries themselves and their outputs as well as consumer responses to promotion. It is in this part that several of the classic texts on promotional culture are presented and juxtaposed.

Chapter 2 looks at conflicting histories of promotional culture, pitting industry accounts against (post-)Marxist and other critiques. Practitioners view their industries as developing from ad hoc and self-serving occupations into respectable ‘professions’ that now serve organizations and their publics equally. Industry histories also characterize these emerging professions as vital cogs in the development of much that we now take for granted: democracy and its institutions, mature consumer-oriented markets, and mass media. In stark contrast, (post-)Marxists and others essentially tie promotional culture to wider critical evaluations of capitalist democracies. Promotional intermediaries are employed primarily to fulfil state and corporate objectives. Their activities manipulate publics into acting against their own self-interests, obscure true social and industrial conditions, reinforce social prejudices, and are deployed falsely to justify wars and environmental degradation.

Chapter 3 draws on work in sociology, anthropology and media studies to focus on consumer and audience perspectives. It offers a critical re-evaluation of those critics of promotional culture that tend to focus on producers and economic determinism. Countering the ‘productionist thesis’ of history, authors reinsert consumers and consumption back into the evolving cycles of past and present production. Similarly, they directly counter the passive audience-consumer model assumed by critiques. Instead, individuals actively ‘reappropriate’, ‘decommodify’ and ‘recontextualize’ commodities and promotional texts as they establish their own identities and social relations. The final part of the chapter sets out the counter-criticisms of the audience-consumer society thesis. These suggest that the notion of ‘consumer sovereignty’ is itself a trope generated by modern capitalism that promotes misconceptions of work, leisure and consumer power. The sustainability and consequences of ‘the consumer society’ are also questioned.

Chapter 4 looks specifically at the texts, signs, symbols and discourses of promotional culture. It presents key methodological approaches for analysing adverts and promotionally influenced news texts. It then discusses how these have been employed by different traditions: industry-applied forms of analysis; critical, mainly (post-) Marxist and feminist critiques; audience and readerly conceptions of texts; and poststructuralist and postmodern perspectives. In this last, more detailed account, there is a strong sense that promotion has helped to transform capitalism and social relations. Both ‘exchange value’ and ‘use value’ have become subordinated to ‘symbolic value’. Processes of production, exchange and consumption are now occupied more with signs than with material objects. Such discussions highlight wider philosophical questions about what exactly promotional texts represent and where they are to be located in society and culture.

Chapters 2, 3 and 4, while offering a dialogue with alternative perspectives on promotional culture, also restate the book’s core position. This emphasizes both the increasing promotional orientation of society and that promotion has had a significant ‘social-shaping’ influence on those who either adopt it or engage with it. Indeed, promotional intermediaries, practices and texts retain considerable discursive and symbolic influence. They thus have a bearing on social relations and material power. The chapters in the second and third parts of the book follow this line of reasoning. Each records the emerging influence of promotional intermediaries and practices within the sector. Each also evaluates a core issue that emerges as promotional culture becomes a more central part of a field. These include commodity production itself, creative autonomy, symbolic power, citizen representation, plurality in civil society, and value.

Part II covers Commodities, Media and Popular Culture, and Celebrity. Chapter 5 looks at the construction and promotion of everyday commodities, or ‘stuff’, and introduces a further perspective on promotional culture: new economic sociology and its variants (cultural economy, actor network theory). This work looks at the role of promotion in industrial history, in markets, and in the behaviour of market participants. It does so using sociological rather than economic perspectives. In most relevant literature on commodity promotion, the influence of promotion on the production of goods per se appears minimal. However, as the chapter argues, promotional influence works in a number of less visible ways that then affect production indirectly. Promotional imperatives can reshape corporations, retailers and markets quite significantly. They may also focus on business-to-business relations in order to establish standards, norms and fashion parameters. Thus, by influencing producers and market structures, promotion can also influence production processes. The larger discussion is followed by extended case studies of commodities markets in haute couture and high-street clothing fashions, electrical goods and home computers. The examples of Microsoft and Apple are given particular attention.

Chapter 6 turns to the sectors of mass news media and popular culture. The theme is one of worker autonomy in these industries. The focus is on how promotional considerations and personnel conflict with news journalists and creative artists. From the start, the cultural industries have been reliant on advertising. Over the decades, both public relations and marketing have also become strongly interconnected with media and cultural production. Whether this co-dependency between the promotional and cultural industries has had an all-too-powerful influence on the creative process, and therefore the shape of news and cultural products, is examined. The discussion is applied in greater depth to the cases of news media, popular music, television and Hollywood film.

Chapter 7 brings together literature from sociology, media, politics and business to investigate the topic of celebrity. Celebrities have multiple roles in promotional societies. They promote themselves, are used to promote their host organizations and products, and promote other organizations and products. The theme explored is symbolic capital and power. Many accounts see celebrity, fame and the symbolic as rather superficial, transitory and powerless things. However, as the chapter argues, the symbolic capital generated by celebrities and their intermediaries is exchangeable for substantial levels of economic, political and ideological forms of power. This has a series of consequences, both for the organizations involved and for wider society, politics and markets. The general discussion is followed by extended case studies of David Cameron, Jennifer Lopez and Tiger Woods.

Part III, Politics, Markets and Society, turns towards other sectors of society in which the role of promotional culture has grown and, accordingly, contributed to the reshaping of those fields. Chapter 8 draws on studies in political communication and media and politics to record how institutional politics has been affected by promotional needs. The key theme is citizen representation. This investigates how the formal institutions of democracy – parties and governments – have become more or less representative of their publics. Advocates and critics of political marketing, advertising and public relations come to quite different conclusions on the issue. As the chapter goes on to argue, the promotional needs of parties and governments have, in turn, helped to reshape political news coverage, political parties and legislative agendas. Three case areas are discussed in some detail: news media management, political marketing in recent US presidential elections, and the mediatization of UK political parties and personnel.

Chapter 9 looks at work in political sociology and media sociology to consider promotion in civil society. It has become clear that a wide range of organizations, institutions, interest groups and social movements have adopted promotional techniques and personnel to achieve a range of political, legal and economic goals. Churches, charities, consumer groups and local councils have joined others in attempting to influence news content and powerful decision-makers in government and business. The key theme of the chapter is plurality and the question of whether or not a more promotional society is also a more pluralist society. The larger discussion is followed by extended case studies of UK union battles against Post Office privatization, the international Make Poverty History campaign, and the global Occupy movement.

Chapter 10 introduces a further perspective on promotional culture: neo-classical economics. Economics has an ambiguous relationship with promotional culture. On the one hand, advertising and marketing appear to be essential components for linking producers and consumers and for reconciling supply and demand. On the other, orthodox economic theory likes to assume that market actors are rational and to exclude social, cultural and other external factors, including promotional culture. The chapter rejects such economic orthodoxy by drawing on alternative work in economic sociology, cultural economy and heterodox economics. The discussion then focuses on the role of promotion in the construction of speculative markets in finance and elsewhere. The theme of the chapter is value and how promotion is implicated in new constructions of ‘value’. It goes on to argue that promotional intermediaries and activities can have a significant influence on volatile values, extreme market behaviours, bubbles and crashes. The cases discussed in more depth are the financial lobby, the 2000 dotcom boom and bust, and the more recent property and financial market bubbles and crashes.

Chapter 11 offers general conclusions about our promotional times and also pulls together some of the wider themes that have emerged through the preceding chapters. These include discussions of marketization and promotional capitalism; media logic and mediatization; democracy, information and power; risk and innovation; individualism; and trust, certainty and values.

* ONS (2011) includes ‘marketing and sales directors’, ‘advertising and public relations directors’, ‘public relations professionals’, ‘advertising accounts managers and creative directors’, ‘marketing associate professionals’ and ‘market research interviewees’.

Part I

Producers, Consumers and Texts

2

Production: Industry and its Critics

Introduction

This chapter presents two contrasting accounts of the promotional industries in terms of their history and place in contemporary society. It focuses on the occupations of advertising, public relations and marketing as they emerged over the course of the twentieth century. The first part relays how the promotional industries define and present themselves. It combines some detailed histories with the views of industry practitioners as relayed in personal accounts and textbooks. This presents a history that combines rapid growth with an evolving sense of ‘professionalization’. It also suggests that the promotional occupations have been vital constituent elements in the establishment of markets, democracy and mass media. The second part draws together promotional culture’s varied critics, who question the ‘professionalization’ narrative. Instead they argue that such occupations have rather problematic historical evolutions, including the use of mass propaganda and the employment of unethical and questionable practices. Professional promotion has been used to serve elite corporate and state objectives rather than the public interest and to sustain corrupt and unjust forms of capitalist democracy. As such, promotional practices have negatively shaped markets, political institutions, media and culture.

The rise of promotional culture: an industry perspective

A history of professional development

For practitioners and industry historians, the history of the promotional industries is to be marked by an evolving sense of ‘professional’ development (e.g., Cutlip et al., 2000; L’Etang, 2004; Leiss et al., 2005; Newsom et al., 2007; Fletcher, 2008). Most writers acknowledge that examples of basic practices in advertising, public relations and branding can be traced back several centuries or millennia. However, in the main, historical narratives concentrate on the twentieth-century transformation of ad hoc practices into established professional occupations.

In each case, although details and time lines vary, historical accounts record a similar evolutionary path towards ‘professional status’. Industries emerged out of the actions of dispersed individuals and small agencies. These were often engaged in dubious practices and instinctive decision-making. Over several decades each sector was transformed. Professional bodies, with codes of ethics and regulatory frameworks, were established. Educational programmes were developed, first within the firms and associations involved and then in higher education colleges. Complex research methodologies and rigorous social scientific procedures were cultivated. Industry trade magazines, academic journals and annual award ceremonies linked practitioners and disseminated ‘best practice’. By the last decades of the century, transnational companies with global visions, networks and employees signalled how far these new industries had come.

Advertising (Leiss et al., 2005; Fletcher, 2008; see also Norris, 1990; Lears, 1995) very much conforms to this pattern as, over time, it became a ‘scientifically informed’ and ‘regulated’ profession. Advertising agents had existed since the mid-nineteenth century in the US and the UK but did no more than buy and sell advertising space in the press. That began to change in the early twentieth century. After advertising was made tax-free in the US in 1913, larger, stable advertising agencies emerged, each offering a range of creative and advisory services. By 1917, 95 per cent of national advertising was handled by such agencies (Leiss et al., 2005: 136). In 1926 both the UK and the US Advertising Association were founded, the latter with a mission ‘to promote public confidence in advertising and advertised goods through the correction or suppression of abuses’. Both associations established codes of ethics and good practice as well as educational programmes. After the Second World War, advertising and ad agencies began to thrive. By the 1970s, pioneering firms, such as J. Walter Thompson in the US and Boase Massimi Pollitt in the UK, were offering integrated, research-based and creative ‘account planning’ services. Robust regulatory bodies emerged alongside industry expansion. In the UK in 1962, the Advertising Standards Authority was set up. In the 1970s it was strengthened with reputable advertisers contributing a 0.1 per cent levy of their revenues to its operation. It gained further powers under the media regulator Ofcom in 2006 (Fletcher, 2008: 249).

Marketing’s history and growth is harder to define because of its changing functions and its overlap with economics and other promotional industries (see accounts in Bartels, 1988; McDonald, 1996; Kourdi, 2011). The National Association of Teachers of Advertising, established in 1915, became the American Marketing Association (AMA) in 1937. It began producing a monthly newsletter in 1946 and by the 1990s was publishing four journals. In the UK, the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) began in 1911, originally as the Sales Managers Association. Marketing magazine started in 1931. In 1945 the association gained official government recognition, in 1973 it developed its first code of practice, and in 1983 it gained royal charter status. In 2001 the Marketing and Sales Standards Setting Body was created in conjunction with the Department for Education and Skills.

The development of industry research methods, education and training was also integral to the ‘professionalization’ of the marketing and advertising sectors. In 1908, Walter Dill Scott published The Psychology of Advertising, one of the early texts to draw on the social sciences in its approach. Charles Coolidge Parlin was credited with producing the first piece of market research, in 1911, presented as a 460-page ‘commercial research’ report. Several more followed in different industry sectors. In 1917, Ralph Starr Butler published Marketing Methods. George Gallup began producing public opinion surveys in the 1920s using proper sampling techniques. By the 1950s, agencies were making use of Nielson and Hooper audience ratings, as well as ‘motivational research’, ‘consumer panels’ and ‘attitude measurement’. By the early 1960s, over 100 technical colleges were offering marketing diplomas in the UK. In 1962, the Designers and Art Directors Association emerged and launched a series of annual award ceremonies, educational programmes and publications. The Advertising Association sponsored the appointment of a chair of marketing at the London School of Economics in 1964 and the first MA degrees in marketing began the following year. In 1980 the IPA launched its Advertising Effectiveness awards. In 1998, the CIM presented its first Chartered Marketer awards (see also Nixon, 1996).

The historical development of professional public relations lagged a little behind advertising but followed a similar path (Tulloch, 1993; Ewen, 1996; Marchand, 1998; Cutlip et al., 2000; L’Etang, 2004; Newsom et al., 2007). The ‘grandfathers’ of the industry, Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays, set up offices and touted their services to businesses and government at the start of the twentieth century. Corporations, charities, churches and universities began organizing their ‘publicity bureaus’ before the First World War. The Democratic and Republican parties established their PR offices in 1928 and 1932 respectively. In the 1920s, UK government institutions, such as the Empire Marketing Board and the Ministry of Health, started employing press staff for public information campaigns. Like advertising, PR consultancies began growing more substantially in the US and the UK from the 1950s onwards.

Accounts also note the emergence of industry ‘professionalism’ in the form of associations, ethical codes, training and education. For many, nineteenth-century PR was typified by the kind of stunts and ‘press agentry’ of the showman P. T. Barnum (Grunig and Hunt, 1984). That began to change when, according to Newsom and his colleagues (2007: 29), Ivy Lee’s new publicity bureau opened for business in 1906, with a ‘Declaration of Principles’. In 1923, Edward Bernays’s Crystallizing Public Opinion was among the first of many industry texts. Through the 1930s a number of early professional associations were founded. In 1947, Boston University opened the first school of public relations, and by 1949 some 100 colleges in the US were offering PR courses. In 1948, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) was established, and in 1954 it published its first code of ethics. The UK Institute of Public Relations (IPR) also began in 1948. It produced its first PR practice guide and offered its first qualifications in 1958; a more prescriptive ‘Code of Practice’ was published in 1963. In the 1980s the IPR (now CIPR) began presenting its own Excellence in Public Relations awards. In 1988 the first MA degree in public relations was offered, at Stirling University.

Since the 1950s each of these occupations has continued to expand. In the US in 2003, $249.2 billion was spent on advertising and the industry employed 165,000 people (Leiss et al., 2005: 3). PR practitioner numbers rose from 19,000 in 1950 to an estimated 258,000 in 2010 (Cutlip et al., 2000: 31; US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010). In 2002, the AMA estimated that 750,000 people were employed in marketing or marketing-related jobs. In the UK, in 1952, advertising expenditure was £123 million, equivalent to 0.77 per cent of GNP. In 2011, £15.9 billion, approaching 1.5 per cent of GNP, was spent on advertising (Fletcher, 2008; AA, 2011). By 2005, the PR sector employed directly an estimated 47,800 people, with many more employed indirectly in press cutting, media evaluation and other PR-servicing firms (Key Note, 2006). In 2011, £7.5 billion was spent on public relations ( PR Week