Blowing Up the Brand

Blowing Up the Brand began as a two-day conference in May 2009 at the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. Organized by Melissa Aronczyk and Devon Powers, the goal of the event was to bring together writers and academics with diverse disciplinary backgrounds and research interests to share critical perspectives on the expanding role of the brand as both a cultural form and a model of political and economic organization. Keynote speaker, former New York Times Magazine columnist Rob Walker, and conference participants set out to debate and define the new terms of “promotional culture” in the current social, political and technological context.


Blowing Up the Brand: Critical Perspectives on Promotional Culture, edited by Melissa Aronczyk and Devon Powers, was published by Peter Lang (New York) in 2010, as part of the series Popular Culture and Everyday Life (series editor Toby Miller).

Blowing Up the Brand is reviewed in the Canadian Journal of Communication 37.3 (2012), Popular Communication 9.1-2 (2011), The Communication Review 14.2 (2011), Reviews in Cultural Theory 2.1 (2011); Journal of Communication 61 (2011); Journal of Mass Media Ethics 26.4 (2011).

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Blowing Up the Brand

Melissa Aronczyk and Devon Powers

I. Authenticity, Value, and the Utility of Fiction in Promotional Culture

2. Brand Valuation and Topological Culture

Celia Lury and Liz Moor

3. Promotion as Institutionalized Deception: Some Coordinates of Political Publicity

John Corner

4. The Consuming Self: From Flappers to Facebook

Jeff Pooley

II. Branded Space, Branded Citizens

5. Branding, Crisis, and Utopia: Representing New York in the Age of Bloomberg

Miriam Greenberg

6. The Transformation from Chengfen to Shenjia in China: Branding and Promotional Culture

Hongmei Li

7. A Nation of “Shop ‘til You Drop” Consumers? On the Overspent Puerto Rican Consumer and the Business of Shopping Malls

Arlene Davila

III. Branding and the Promotional Public Sphere

8. Through the Looking Glass: The Promotional University 2.0

Alison Hearn

9. Activism, Branding, and the Promotional Public Sphere

Graham Knight

10. Silvio Berlusconi, One Man Brand

Waddick Doyle and Gabriele Cosentino

11. Marketing Chimeras: The Biovalue of Branded Medical Devices

Mary Ebeling

IV. Art, Entertainment, and Entrepreneurship

12. The Politics of Commerce: Shepard Fairey and the New Cultural Entrepreneurship

Sarah Banet-Weiser and Marita Sturken

13. Strange Powers: The Branded Sensorium and the Intrigue of Musical Sound

Devon Powers

14. Texts that Sell: The Culture in Promotional Culture

Jonathan Gray