understanding media

Week 11

Vehicle Strand: Advertising and Branding
In this first part of the class we consider Naomi Klein's discussion of advertising and branding in her book No Logo. We look at the shift made by some of the world's most financially successful corporations from the advertising of products to the marketing of a brand. We then discuss the question of shock advertising, looking at Hermann Vaske's documentary The Fine Art of Separating People From Their Money, and at the controversial advertising campaigns of Benetton in particular.
Required Reading: Branston and Stafford (2010), Ch. 11: 'Debating Advertising, Branding and Celebrity'.

Environment Strand: Environments and Anti-Environments
In this second part of the class we engage with McLuhan's notion of the anti-environment, a means of making ourselves aware of the imperceptible media environments to which we are ordinarily subject. By way of example we consider Andy Warhol's iconoclastic Campbell's Soup Can, the sprays of 'Exterior Paint Specialist' Banksy, and the culture-jamming and spoof advertisements of Adbusters. We close by reviewing the assessment requirements for the Case Study.
Optional Reading: McLuhan and Fiore, 1967, pp. 8, 25-26, 41, 68, 82-85, 88, 93, 114, 126-28, 142, 148, 150.

Module Forum
Topics under discussion in the Module Forum this week include advertising by Benetton and Pepsi, shampoo and Naomi Klein's analysis of brands, mobile phones in The Matrix, McLuhan's anti-environments, Andy Warhol, Banksy and Adbusters.

Case Study
If you choose to write a Case Study using the concepts drawn from this week's vehicle strand you will need to address the question of advertising and branding. You might use Naomi Klein's discussion in No Logo to look at the changing ways in which a particular product has been advertised over the years. Alternatively you could examine how the identity of a brand has been constructed and marketed through advertising, sponsorship, and other means.
Useful Reading: Branston and Stafford, 2010, Ch. 11; Klein, 2000; Lupton and Miller, 1996d; Lupton and Miller, 1996g; Newbold et al. 2002, Ch. 7; Schor, 2005; Desmond, 2003; Lasn, 2000.
If you would rather make use of McLuhan's notion of anti-environments, you could choose some individual or organisation - an artist, charity, campaign group, etc - and examine the way in which they have made some imperceptible environment visible to us. You will need to discuss both the environment that we tend not to see, and the way in which an anti-environment has been deployed to provide an 'early warning system'.
Useful Reading: Duffy, 1969, Ch. 8; Tyler, 2013; Rae, no date, 'Art'; McLuhan, 1966; McLuhan, 1965; McLuhan, 1968.
Whatever you choose, you will probably want to arrange a tutorial with the Module Tutor. For more information on the Case Study see the section on Assessment in the Module Handbook.

Before the Next Class You Need To...
(1) Read Branston and Stafford (2010), pp. 323-27 on celebrities.
(2) Read Starkey (1995).

If you're stuck or confused, post your problem on the Module Forum or .