Category Archives: Communities and Tribes

Is Star Trek Better Than Star Wars? Is J. J. Abrams The Saviour?

Yoda shows disrespect to Star Trek

Yoda shows disrespect to Star Trek

In this month’s GQ magazine (May 2013 issue, p. 68 in my print copy) John Ritter has an article about J. J. Abrams, the Lost creator-director whose speciality has becoming reviving old franchises like Mission Impossible and Star Trek. About Star Trek, he opines–with an opiate reference–in relation to J.J. taking on the challenges of building the new Star Wars Disney franchise:

  • “The idea that the same man can mainline both Gene Roddenberry and the Force is mildly alarming. Think of what opposite Star Trek and Star Wars are. We’ve been defined since childhood by which we prefer: rationality vs. mysticism, robust and morally complex characters vs. good-and-evil archetypes. A guy who can reunite the two halves of the Great Sci-Fi Schism shouldn’t be making movies, folks–he should be our envoy to the Middle East.”

This is an incredibly rich paragraph. A veritable treasure trove.

Let me first offer my opinion on whether Star Trek and Star Wars are actually opposites or, more accurately, oppositional poles. Although I know many fans will choose one franchise over another, or that fans often say that they are “Star Trek people” or “Star Wars people” like they say they are cat people or dog people, I also know that there are many people who, like me, have worshiped at the altars dedicated to both Spock and Yoda since they were children (and yes, I am also both a cat person and a dog person—jeez, I wonder if there is a correlation).

But I think the dichotomy that Ritter sets up in this paragraph is incorrect, particularly on the Star Trek side. Star Trek is “rationality” devoid of “mysticism”. Um, not so fast. Have you seen what’s inside Mr. Spock? Like, telepathy and mind control. How many times has a false god been mistaken for the real thing: Apollo, Vaal, Q, Trelane, the Metrons, and on and on?

As numerous authors have written (for three strong examples, see Porter, Jennifer E. and Darcee L. McLaren (1999), ed., Star Trek and Sacred Ground: Explorations of Star Trek, Religion, and American Culture, Albany, NY: SUNY Press; Wagner, Jon and Jan Lundeen (1998), Deep Space and Sacred Time: Star Trek in the American Mythos, Westport, CN: Praeger; Jindra, Michael (1994), “Star Trek fandom as a religious phenomenon,” Sociology of Religion, 55 (Spring), 27-51), Star Trek in all of its vainglorious iterations is chock-full of mysticism and spirituality. Many, many episodes in the original series could, for example, be seen as symbolizing humanity’s ongoing quest for God, or gods, and an overturning or ambivalence towards this seemingly inescapable yearning in modern times. And as Wagner and Lundeen’s book demonstrates, Star Trek has plenty to do with mythology and archetype. As has any great story.

Which franchise do you think Ritter favors? My bet is that he sees himself more as a rational type than a mystic, and prefers “morally complex” characters to “archetypes” (or is that fictional stereotypes?).

But comparing fan debates in the fictional space to long-standing territorial and religious conflicts in the Middle East is particularly revealing. The fact that a writer can devise and a publication can publish such comparisons can only point to some deep resonance of belief, belonging and identity that comes from fan identity, particularly this, one of the core fan identities of our time.

J.J. Abrams is a master director who plays with mysticism and ambivalence to science. Like creator Chris Carter of The X-Files, his works often peer into the (small v and plural) existential voids, they look at the holes and gaps in technoscientific rationality and human society (even its sciencefictional reflection) and find there the ever-unfulfilled need for certainly and belief, and even spirituality and mysticism.

His works vividly portray this ambivalence and fear and hope and desire, which burns at the very heart of our society. And that is exactly why he is such a good choice to continue to tell these precious modern myths which so many of us hold so dear.

Making Triangles: Marketing Positioning for the Social Media Age

ValknutA lot has changed about marketing  in the last decade. And therefore a lot has changed about marketing strategy in the last decade.

But our theories of  marketing strategy have stayed strangely the same.

I have been waiting for a reasonable solution the these challenges for over a decade. And while I have been waiting, I have also been working on a solution of my own.

I have cobbled together what I consider to be the best of existing theory and thinking, and tested it through MBA classrooms around the world with some of the best students in the world. And now I have tried to unify it into one theory, a theory that balances accuracy with elegance to try to answer the following question:

How Should We Analyze Marketing Positioning in this New, Complex, and Multifaceted Age of Many Media (traditional, new, and social)?

The Answer, It Turns out, Is In The Interlacing Tri-Triangular Shape of an Ancient Norse Symbol: The Valknut.

Personal Brands and the Next Thing in Social Media Marketing

In January I started my MBA class in social media marketing and management at the Schulich School of Business and it really feels great to be teaching again. If you’re interested in the class, you can join our open to the public Facebook page, which is simply titled Social Media Marketing.

In today’s class we had an interesting discussion about positioning your personal brand. Of course, because it’s a social media marketing class filled with aspiring marketers, a number of people in the class were considering positioning themselves as social media experts (no, I don’t mean social media”gurus”, eek). So whatever the category they were interested in, whether it was a category manager, a brand manager, sales manager, advertising account manager, or even a financial professional, they were thinking about using “social media savvy” something like that as their point of difference that help them to stand out from the crowd in a way that would help them to be noticed and found relevant.

As we were discussing this topical an important point difference in class, it dawned on me that social media marketer as a descriptive term is becoming increasingly less unique and therefore less meaningful.

Gather round, children, for a tale from the origins of Web Age.

You see, when I began researching in this area, I was known as “an Internet guy.” Then I was a “virtual community guy.” And then “online community guy.” Then I was a blogging guy. And all the time, I guess I was a netnography guy. In the last few years, I’ve obviously been a social media guy.

And I guess that’s at the crux of my problem with all this. Because in the example that I gave to the class, I positioned myself as a social media marketing professor, and my point of difference was social media marketing expertise. However, when I think about it, that’s now a much more crowded space than it was a decade ago. And it’s getting more crowded all the time.

I think we are already at the stage, then, where social media and social media marketing are fragmenting into various specialties and subspecialties. First you could be an Internet person, then a Web person, a browser person, a new media person, a social media person, and so on.What will be the next phase of social media? Being a web analytics person. A community management person? A brand community designer? And online research community specialist. A co-creation and User-Generated Media specialist. A PR response person. A transmedia brand narrative storytelling specialist.

In other words, just as “Internet marketer” is a meaningless term because the Internet has become so diverse and complex, exactly the same thing is happening to social media. And that means that each day “social media marketer” is becoming less ad less meaningful.

The takeaway for smart marketers and marketing students concerned about their personal brand? If you are interested in this space, get knowledgeable and get specific. Find a cutting edge area, get skilled in it, and lead.

That’s the way to brand yourself. With a point of difference that is actually different. And that matters. And that will make you matter.

And what do you really think you can deliver on anyways: being “the social media person” or the “online research community specialist”? If you think the former, especially because it sounds vaguer and thus easier, I think you have an even bigger lesson to learn.

My advice? Social media marketers–Go Forth and Specialize.

Netnography in Turkish

Last SummTurkish_Flager I traveled to Turkey and had the time of my life there. It is a beautiful country filled with wonderful people and I cannot say enough about the hospitality, intelligence, and culture of the Turkish people. And of course they are a people of exquisite taste…which is why they are obviously so interested in Netnography.

I have had a number of brilliant Turkish students and colleagues who have been eager early adopters of the netnographic method and are already making big contributions to our global understanding of social media and social media marketing. Before my travels there, a very kind academic translated one of my white papers about Netnography into the Turkish language. I present it in a link here for everyone in Turkey, to hopefully help to bring Netnography to Turkey in even greater and more accessible fashion. Thank you so much for the translation!  I really appreciate it. Here it is

The Return

Someone should do research on keeping up a blog. The ups and downs. The thrills and chills. The attention and neglect. Maybe there is already such research. I would be very interested to hear about it.

How life can sometimes get in the way of blogging. Darn that life thing. What nerve!

Well, I’m back and the blogging is easy. Tomorrow, my Social Media Marketing and Management class starts up again at Schulich for the Winter 2012 term. I am hoping to share lots of good material with all of you good people. My voice is back online. Let the fun continue….

Journal of Marketing Appointment Announcement

jm_cover.jpgThis blog is getting some “red hot” editorial news about the State of Marketing Scholarship these days. My last post broke the news about the new editorial team at the Journal of Consumer Research (“JCR”).

And here is a very fresh one about the #1 Journal in the Marketing field.

As many of you are aware Gary Frazier is the editor elect of the Journal of Marketing (or “JM”) and will be taking over in July of 2011 from Ajay Kohli. For a while, Ajay, Gary, and Bob Leone have acted as co-editors of the journal. As with JCR, the manuscripts flows in the main journals in our field have been increasing dramatically, necessitating some editorial action to share the workload.

Gary has decided to change the structure of the Journal of Marketing to one that includes Associate Editors (or “AEs”). I think this is a very smart move. AEs at JM will have considerable latitude to make recommendations, but the final decision will always lie with the Editor-in-Chief, that is, Gary. Gary has appointed 16 AEs, some truly excellent people, and I believe he is looking for a couple more.

marketing_journals_411×211.jpgGary has asked me to be an Associate Editor of JM for his term and I have happily accepted. Thank you for the vote of confidence, Gary.

What this means, I believe, is that the Journal of Marketing is institutionalizing a role and a place for Consumer Culture Theory, cultural, or “qualitative” approaches to practical marketing issues in the field. This is big news. It is something that many of us in the CCT field have been working towards for many years. More top tier options for our publications is important to continuing the institutionalization of CCT work as an important and necessary (albeit minority) component of all Marketing Scholarship, Marketing Education, and Marketing Departments.

At the #1 journal in the Marketing field, we now have, perhaps more than ever before, the promise of a real presence and solidified representation at the top of the field.

I think that a look at the past 7 years of cultural work in JM will show that CCT work is getting more and more applied, and offering increasingly powerful pragmatic insights to the marketing industry.

The move is also presenting  a natural place for all types of social media and social media marketing research. One of my personal goals is to raise the quality and profile of research on social media and social media marketing research.

Officially, these will be the areas of the Journal of Marketing that I will have Associate Editor authority over:

Primary (substantive) content area

Internet and social media marketing

Secondary content areas

  1. Word-of-mouth marketing;
  2. entertainment marketing;
  3. brand and product management;
  4. retailing

Methods: 

  • Qualitative/ethnographic (e.g., discourse analysis, semiotics, phenomenological interviews, metaphor analysis),
  • Other methodological orientations as necessary (I am trained and versed in a variety of different methods)

If you do social media research using qualitative methods, you can pretty much guess who is going to be shepherding your work though JM.

So starting in July I will be looking forward to seeing all your best managerially-oriented work sent to us at the Journal of Marketing. I will do my very best to make sure it gets treated fairly or even better, and to publish the best work to keep our field of Marketing moving steadily forward.

JCR Gets a New Editor–Three New Editors, To Be Exact

I have been on the JCR Policy Board for about a year, representing the American Anthropological Association.This has been my first time going through the process of electing a new Editor, or Editorial Team.

In this case, I want to say that we had two team running for the Editorship and both teams were really outstanding. It was extremely difficult to choose one team as better than the other. What I can say is that I am very happy with this choice. I think the new editors will do an extremely good job, be very fair, very devoted, and very enthusiastic. If you like the way JCR is running right now, I think you are going to be pleased with the way it will continue running.

Here is the full official announcement going over the communications transom right now. I’ve been authorized to spread the word, so here goes…

“The Journal of Consumer Research Policy Board is pleased to announce that Mary Frances Luce, Ann L. McGill, and Laura Peracchio have been named coeditor-designates of the Journal of Consumer Research.  The new team, whose three-year term begins July 1, 2011, replaces John Deighton, who has served as editor-in-chief since July 2005.   We gratefully acknowledge John’s service, as well as his team of editors for the last three years-Deborah MacInnis, Ann McGill, and Baba Shiv.

Mary Frances Luce is the Thomas A. Finch Jr. Professor of Marketing at The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs.  Professor Luce’s expertise is in consumer behavior, medical decision-making, and the effects of negative emotion on decision behavior. Her teaching interests center on health care marketing.  Luce received her Ph.D. in Business Administration from Duke University and has held previous appointments at the Wharton School of Business.  Luce’s research has appeared in such publications as Journal of Consumer Research, Health Psychology, Management Science, and Marketing Science.  She also co-authored Emotional Decisions:  Tradeoff Difficulty and Coping in Consumer Choice. In 2003, she was Co-Chair of the Association for Consumer Research Conference, and she currently serves as an associate editor of the Journal of Consumer Research.  She has received research grants from the National Science Foundation and the Marketing Science Institute.

Ann L. McGill is the Sears Roebuck Professor of General Management, Marketing, and Behavior Science at the Booth School of Business, University of Chicago.   Professor McGill’s research focus is consumer and manager decision making, with special emphasis on causal reasoning, consumer evaluations of products and services consumed alone or with others, the influence of freedom of choice on outcome satisfaction, and product and brand anthropomorphism.  McGill has held teaching positions at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and New York University.   Besides teaching and advising several PhD candidates, McGill is an editor of the Journal of Consumer Research and in 2008, she was Co-Chair of the Association for Consumer Research Conference.  McGill won the 2005 McKinsey Award for Excellence in Teaching at the University of Chicago.   She received a BBA with high distinction from the University of Michigan, and an MBA and a PhD from Chicago Booth.

Laura Peracchio is Professor of Marketing at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Professor Peracchio received her Ph.D. from Northwestern University and a dual BA and BSE from the Wharton School and the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.  Peracchio’s areas of research interest are focused on consumer information processing including food and nutrition issues, visual persuasion, and language and culture. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Consumer Psychology, Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, and Journal of Advertising. Peracchio is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Consumer Research and the Journal of Consumer Psychology and has served as President of the Society for Consumer Psychology. She was awarded the Society for Consumer Psychology’s Inaugural Distinguished Service Award and research awards from the American Marketing Association, the Marketing Science Institute, and the Journal of Consumer Research. Peracchio’s teaching focuses on nonprofit marketing, social and public policy issues, and consumer behavior.

The Policy Board was very impressed with the proposal submitted by Professors Luce, McGill, and Peracchio.  They are all highly respected scholars and long-time contributors to JCR and to the consumer research community more broadly.  Ann is currently an editor of JCR, and all three have served as area-editors and members of the JCR editorial review board.  The team brings great energy to the editorial position, and under their direction we expect to see JCR’s influence broaden and strengthen among researchers interested in all aspects of consumption behavior.  In addition, the team has excellent ideas for promoting interdisciplinary research within JCR.   The field of consumer research will continue to develop in important ways under this team’s scholarly leadership.

The JCR Policy Board is comprised of representatives of eleven organizations.  Current members of the Policy Board are Itamar Simonson (American Marketing Association), Rob Kozinets (American Anthropological Association), Linda L. Price (American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences), Barbara Bickart (American Association for Public Opinion Research), Juliet Schor (American Sociological Association), Michel Wedel (American Statistical Association), John Lynch (Association for Consumer Research), Leigh McAlister (INFORMS), Ronald Faber (International Communication Association), Durairaj Maheswaran (Society for Consumer Psychology), and Norbert Schwarz (Society for Personality and Social Psychology).