RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2017

RGS-IBG Logo

303 Exploring brands and being (2): coproducing understandings of place
Convenor(s) Anna McLauchlan (University of Leeds, UK)
Steve Millington (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)
Chair(s) Anna McLauchlan (University of Leeds, UK)
Timetable Friday 01 September 2017, Session 2 (11:10 - 12:50)
Session abstract Alongside numerous ‘how to’ texts on branding goods, services, knowledges, spaces and places there is a growing literature examining the geographies of brands and branding (particularly associated with Pike, 2011, 2015). This session develops this work by exploring how brands and branding are enveloped in and come to make up our messy materiality, shaping understanding of individual or collective being, thus informing or effecting responses. This could arise through links with defined practices (including habitual use of brands) alongside emotional associations such as love, loyalty, exhilaration, attachment, comfort, compulsion, disgust, hate or shame. Brands might be both networked and distributed but they are also constrained by and embedded in places, reactions to brands literally ‘take’ and ‘make’ place. These two sessions of empirically grounded critical explorations interact in a variety of ways. In the first, papers’ chiefly reflects upon the affective capacity of brands and how they can produce or elide with literal and figurative landscapes. The second session reveals how understandings of place are both used and produced through association with brands and branding.
Linked Sessions Exploring brands and being (1): elision with literal and figurative landscapes
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2017@rgs.org
Branded juices: Practices of knowing and branding in the perfume industry
Bodo Kubartz (Passion and Consulting)
In economic geography, branding has mostly been conceived as a ratiocinative, cognitive process done by and recognised through the senses of vision and hearing. However, some cultural product-industries integrate other senses. Importantly, smell plays a crucial role in the perfume industry both for professionals and consumers. Fragrant liquid, known as “The juice”, is considered to be the essential component of a branded perfume. Over the last 15 years, the international perfume market has grown with small artisanal brands becoming inspirational drivers for traditional luxury perfume brands.

This paper draws from my own work as a practitioner in the industry, research in the field (semi-structured interviews in New York City and Paris), together with literatures on brands, branding, and knowledge in economic geography. Firstly, a comparative exploration of luxury and niche perfume brands highlights their differing practices of knowing and branding, indicating that they have significantly dissimilar economic geographies. Secondly, an examination of the manufacture, retailing and consumption of perfume illustrates how professionals create, mediate, and relate to the juice and the brand. By stressing the relevance of sensual competencies in manufacturing, retailing, and consuming, this paper highlights the relevance of materials, materiality, and materializations in branding. It argues that the cultural product-industries require a better understanding of the strategic alignments of their components and proposes further research into this industry to fill this gap.
Subcultures and the experience and branding of place and fashion
Atle Hauge (Eastern Norway Research Institute, Norway)
Dominic Power (Stockholm University, Sweden)
Paul Sweetman (King's College London, UK)
There has been a significant shift in the way certain subcultures are perceived, from moral panic in the 1960s and '70s to celebration at the opening of the 2012 London Olympics, and during the Punk London programme of 2016. While the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) theorised subcultures as imaginary solutions, these shifts indicate a growing awareness of subcultures' wider impact, culturally and in economic terms. At the same time, however, academic work on subcultures has continued to focus on conceptual or theoretical debates, or offer empirical analyses of particular groups, without exploring their broader impact and effects.

This paper will consider how we might redress this by exploring the cultural and economic impact of key subcultural groups. It will focus, in particular, on how best to interrogate the relationship between subcultures and place, and the ways in which subcultural associations are utilised in both the branding and marketing of and people’s perceptions and experiences of urban spaces; and the relationship between subcultures and fashion, and the ways in which subcultural associations are utilised in both the branding and marketing of and people’s perceptions and experiences of fashionable brands. It will consider how best to conceptualise the value of subcultural associations to places and brands, and their visitors and consumers, and how the marketing of such associations is viewed by subculturalists themselves. Rather than seek better ways to exploit or monetise subcultures, the intention is to explore and acknowledge their wider impact in cultural and economic terms.
Exporting Regional Identity: Some Evidence from Argyll & Bute, Scotland
Julie Clark (University of the West of Scotland, UK)
Gareth Rice (University of the West of Scotland, UK)
Much of the research in and around geographies of brands and branding has been dominated by cities, at the expense of more rural environments (Landry, 2006; Landry and Wood, 2007; Cronin, 2010; Ulldemolins, 2014). Our paper seeks to address this imbalance through focussing on the region of Argyll & Bute in Scotland as a case study. This area produces many commodities associated with Loch Fyne, in the west of the region: Loch Fyne branded ales, whiskey, oysters, mussels and salmon have become an integral part of the regional economy. Building mythology alongside market, this range of produce supports place-making practices, which have helped to consolidate, sustain and project an outward-facing identity for the region. However, whilst these products are enmeshed in regional networks and material cultures, they are by no means constrained by them. By tracing the geographical contours of branded Loch Fyne products in and across different spatial scales, we seek to illustrate how origination and association have influenced the meaning of place, within and beyond the region. We conclude with some reflections on how Loch Fyne branded products are part of a region building process which is imbued with meaning as part of the wider geographies of Scottish brands and branding.
“Guggenheim Effect”? The Bilbao Brand and Gentrification Process
Iratxe Muñecas-Izaguirre (University of Deusto, Spain)
This paper deals with the study of the urban marketing public policies developed in the city of Bilbao (Spain) for the promotion of this city and a bigger global competitivity through a new city-brand, with a special focus on the ensuing process of gentrification.

The effects of globalization have had significant changes in the urban context, specially the stress deriving from the global competitivity between cities for the same economic resources, as well as the shift from an industrial to a service economy, with the promotion of the service sector and the tourism activity as the main economic resources. The city is no more a production place, becoming an object of consumption itself. The relevance of the selection of this issue is based on the consequences and scope of its action in the various areas with social implications.

In this context, this paper starts with an introduction to the Bilbao reality, the analysis through bibliographical and case study of the public policies developed in the search for a new brand of this city, and of the emerged gentrification process (Vicario and Martinez 2003; Janoschka and Salinas and Sequera 2014), identifying its different kinds and the peculiarities that presents in the areas of Bilbao named by the city council as “areas of opportunity”. Furthermore, clarify the situation of the identity, brand, icons and citizens of this biscay city of the north of Spain with a considerable heritage, and historical relationships with countries like e.g. UK or Canada.
Embedding, Disembedding and Re-embedding Manchester City
Steve Millington (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)
While certain global brands might be characteristically fluid, many brands are more epistemologically, culturally and affectively fixed. Crucially, Holt (2006) recognises that brands cannot generate meanings to which people will automatically subscribe, but must tap into broader sensations, desires, opinions and identities. Brands may be conceived as ‘ideological parasites’, tapping into pre-existing discourses and feelings, into ‘myth markets’ (2006:374). In 2008 Manchester City Football Club launched the Our City branding campaign (Edensor & Millington 2008). In contrast to the global aspirations of other more well-known football brands, the campaign tapped into popular pre-existing structures of feeling, belief and identity through which individuals both ‘locate themselves and define their locality’ (Hague and Mercer 1998, 113). Here such mythic elements were locally embedded, with a particularly situated appeal to a historical, geographical and cultural context, whereby the local becomes the site of claims for authenticity as a marker distinguished from the inauthentic global. Consequently, the Manchester City brand is less promiscuously available to multiple interpretation and appropriation. Cultivating the loyalty of local fans may make commercial sense for a team struggling to win trophies, but events off the pitch rapidly changed following a takeover by an Abu Dhabi based oil-rich family. Subsequent investment has transformed Manchester City into a winning team with global aspirations. To achieve this the new owners set about purchasing overseas football clubs in Melbourne and New York, to form the City Football Group. Consequently, this paper revisits embeddedness of the Manchester City brand, and its subsequent dis/re-embedding.