Protest As Brand
Branded Protest by Ingeborg Bloem and Klaus Kempenaars has just been published in The Netherlands (BIS) and will be available in the U.S. (Laurence King Publishers) in April 2020. I was pleased to write the foreword (excerpt here) which allows for a tad of brand-bashing:
Branding is a charged practice and overused buzzword, an umbrella for marketing, advertising and public relations aimed at manipulating target audiences to embrace a person, thing or idea. Nothing wrong with that if handled with care. Branding can be both benign and nefarious. Branding is responsible for the yogurt we buy, the gas we pump, the airline we fly, the soda we drink as opposed to all of the other yogurts, gasolines, airlines and sodas on the market that because of effective branding are not our consumption preferences. Branding is also, and this is where it is dangerous, a propaganda tool used as the build-ups to the wars we fight, the rhetoric we consume, the political party we belong to, the religion we practice and the ideology we believe in. Branding is the manufacture of public opinion and from that derives brand loyalty.
But I have to admit that whatever reservations I’ve had about mixing branding and activism has been challenged by the intelligence manifest in this book. Among the case studies, including #Blacklivesmatters, PETA. Pussy Riot, Amnesty International and Greenpeace, the authors discuss a wide range of potential strategies the showcases “The power of branding and its influence on protest movements” through strategies rooted in narrative and spectacle. It is a important textbook for those considering or involved in social and political action.