Branding national myths and symbols

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Branding national myths and symbols,[1] or BNMS, is a field of research focusing on branding and marketing of a nation's myths and symbols. The research blends the theories of marketing, cultural communications, sociology, public relations, and semiotics. The awareness of a nation’s (or a collective group’s) internal myths and symbols may result in raising cultural relations between nations, according to this theory. The use dates from before the 1990, and field of study dates from about 2000, but was not given this moniker by a scholar until 2009.

The principles of BNMS are related to, but are different from Nation branding. The main difference between two principles is that nation branding is primarily concerned with raising the global image of a nation for better economic return, while BNMS is concerned with the revealing and demonstrating the meanings behind a nation’s internal myths and symbols. In other words, nation branding is the selling or promotion of the external identity of a nation, while BNMS is the revealing of their internal identity, either for its own citizens to believe in, or to achieve better global relations between nations. According to the theory, each national myth and symbol has its own hidden meanings that may reinforce these misunderstanding between nations.

Examples of BNMS include changing the symbols on currency, a national anthem (see, e.g., National Anthem Project by the United States), and advertising in political campaigns.

Core concepts[edit]

A national myth is an inspiring narrative or anecdote about a nation's past. Such myths often serve as an important national symbol and affirm a set of national values. A national myth may sometimes take the form of a national epic, part of the nation's civil religion, a legend or fictionalized narrative, which has been elevated to serious mythological, symbolical and esteemed level so as to be true to the nation.[2] It might simply over-dramatize true incidents, omit important historical details, or add details for which there is no evidence; or it might simply be a fictional story that no one takes to be true literally,[3] but contains a symbolic meaning for the nation.

The national folklore of many nations includes a founding myth, which may involve a struggle against colonialism or a war of independence. National myths serve many social and political purposes, such as state-sponsored propaganda, or of inspiring civic virtue and self-sacrifice.[4]

In some cases, the meaning of the national myth may become disputed among different parts of the population, such as majority and minority groups, which makes branding and advertising of the national myth necessary.[5][6]

WIPO has conducted a number of symposia on the protection of folklore, i.e., "traditional cultural expressions",[7] with the goal of preventing their "misappropriation" by branding, patenting, tradmarking, or copyright by other persons.[8]

Recent examples[edit]

A recent, clear example as of 2011 is the use of "Greco-Roman symbols merged into Christianity" on the Euro note.[9] Many nations have put their national ideas on their money "via branding national myths and symbols."[9] The image of the crowning Charlemagne is on a Euro note, because he is "accepted as the Father of Europe and thereby of the EU, with buildings and rooms named after him."[9] The accepted "symbol for EU culture ... symbolises a Doric column ..." but does not necessarily represent Europe’s other cultures (Norse, etc.).[9] Ultimately, Europe is based on the myth of the demi-god Europa and many of its symbols are based on ancient Greek art forms.[9] If Turkey joined the EU, the current images could be a source of conflict:[9]

According to Homer, Europa was born in Asia Minor in the east, so Anatolia or modern-day Turkey. After Europa was abducted by Zeus in his form as a white bull, she spent her adult life with him and their three boys in Crete, Greece. Posthumously, Europa is considered as the geographical mother of a land mass. To complete this circle, Europa needs to acknowledge her filial and ancestor duties towards her Asia Minor children. Symbols like these will exasperate and perpetuate the existing mutual misunderstandings between Turkey and the EU. No matter how much each of them would like to understand the other, ultimately, without an adjustment of these symbols, their attempts will be lukewarm and ineffective.

—Hatice Sitki [9]

Another example from 2011 is that of Japan's self-branding of its scientific expertise, which fell apart after the earthquake and tsunami that March, followed by the nuclear accidents.[10] In the New York Times, Mitsuyoshi Numano wrote, "It even begins to appear that Japan’s vaunted scientific and technical prowess has taken on the character of a kind of myth, and that myth has deluded the nation’s politicians and business leaders."[10]

José Filipe Torres, chief executive of Bloom Consulting, a Madrid-based branding firm whose clients include Bulgaria, Latvia, Poland, Spain, among others was quoted by Forbes cautioning that, "Good brand positing doesn't always mean more tourism, economic development and foreign investment."[11]

Research in the field[edit]

Jonathan Rose first wrote about this concept in 2000, in which he claimed that Canada has had "an unholy alliance between advertising agencies and political parties" since the formation of the Confederation in 1867.[5]

In a 2003 article, Rose wrote that that national myths and symbols reinforce and create a "community and binding [its citizens]. These myths are not judged on their veracity but rather [on] their metaphorical and symbolic meaning."[6] Rose maintained that the messages within these "created" myths are disseminated and ultimately maintained through its "civil society from its institutions, public policies and government".[6] His prototypical study was on the Canadian government's creation of national myths in the 1980s and 1990s.[6] Rose pointed out what was unique (in the 1980s) several major points:

  1. "government advertising is used to create and develop national symbols and myths."
  2. that government used "advertising [that] centres around the existence of sub-national minorities," particularly to respond to threats from time to time of successionism in the province of Quebec, which could be generalized to other nations with vocal minorities.
  3. "advertising has become so pervasive in Canadian politics that issues requiring popular support are more than likely to be brought to the public directly through advertising campaigns."[6]

Branding National Myths and Symbols was first coined in 2009 by Turkish-Australian scholar Hatice Sitki, who proposed in Myths, Symbols and Branding: Türkish National Identity and the EU, that these long-existing myths keep us from truly understanding and working with the "other".[1] Sitki proposes that cultural misunderstanding will continue between nations until they understand one another’s cultural myths and symbols.[1] Sitki explains in the Cyclical Formula "Us/Other+Other", how Türkey and the European Union can benefit by accepting that they have, and continue, to play a "triple role" to one another.[1]

BNMS argues that collective groups such as the EU do not need to be "branded" in order to improve their economic value. Rather, they need to be branded to achieve their cultural goal of moving from a "poly-cultural" society to becoming a "multicultural"[12] society. One way for this to be achieved is for nations to realise and work with the hidden meanings of their myths and symbols. Vijay Prashad proposes that the concept of polyculturalism is a way to combat anti-racism. Prashad defines poly cultures as a "provisional concept grounded in antiracism, rather than in diversity..."[13] Roger Hewitt takes a different approach to how peoples with different languages can understand each other. Hewitt argues that the concept of polyculturalism is "not intrinsically equal."[14]

The "national myths" used in Masterpiece Theatre lead to "strengthen[ing] imperial attitudes", according to a 2009 book about the spate of Victorian British novels made in films from the 1980s through the 21st Century, and sources it cited.[15]

Elizabeth Hafkin Pleck argues that the "invented tradition ... of Kwanzaa" was equivalent to the American Indian challenge to "the National myth of inclusion of Thanksgiving...."[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Sitki, H., ‘Myths, Symbols and Branding: Türkish National Identity and the EU', VDM, Dr. Muller Aktiengesellschaft & Co. KG, 2009. See Postgraduate students by research at Deakin University Centre for Citizenship and Gloibisation, accessed January 13, 2011.
  2. ^ Renan, Ernest (1882). Qu'est-ce qu'une nation?. 
  3. ^ Abizadeh, Arash (2004). "Historical Truth, National Myths, and Liberal Democracy". Journal of Political Philosophy 12 (3): 291–313. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9760.2004.00201.x. 
  4. ^ Miller, David (1995). On Nationality. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-828047-5. 
  5. ^ a b Ian R. Sadinsky and Thomas K. Gussman, "Federal Government Advertising and Sponsorships: New Directions in Management and Oversight", CISPAA, Volume 2, number 7, pp. 305, 306, found at CBC website, citing Jonathan W. Rose, Making 'Pictures in Our Heads' — Government Advertising in Canada (Praeger Series in Political Communication, 2000), found at Google Books. Both accessed January 13, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d e Rose, J., 'Government advertising and the creation of national myths: The Canadian case', in ‘International Journal of Non-Profit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, Vol. 8, No. 2:153-165, Henry Stewart Publishing, January 2003. Abstract found at Wiley Online Library, and text found at Queens University website; both accessed January 13, 2011.
  7. ^ WIPO website "Folklore (Traditional Cultural Expressions)". WIPO. Retrieved September 27, 2011. 
  8. ^ WIPO website "Folklore (Traditional Cultural Expressions)". WIPO. Retrieved September 27, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Hatice Sitki, "EU-Turkey: Atatürk and Charlemagne on your euro notes," CafeBabel.com, 8 February 2011. Found at cafebabel.co.uk website. Accessed February 11, 2011.
  10. ^ a b Mitsuyoshi Numano, (trans. Joel R. Cohn), "Beyond expectations," in "A Country's Lasting Aftershocks," New York Times, March 20, 2011, Week in Review, p. 12. Found online at New York Times website. Accessed March 21, 2011.
  11. ^ "World's Most Well-Liked Countries". Forbes. 2010-05-09. Retrieved 2011-08-04. 
  12. ^ Sitki, H., 'How to meet your other, or your ‘Us/Other+Other’ Türkey and Europe/EU’, paper presented at 'Rethinking Humanities and Social Sciences', University of Zadar, September 2010
  13. ^ Endo, R., 'Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro-Asian connections and the myth of racial purity', by Vijay Prashard, International Migration Review, vol. 37, No. 4, The Future of the Second Generation: The Integration of Migrant Youth in Six European Countries (Winter) 1313-1314, 2003
  14. ^ Hewitt, R., 'Language, Youth and the destabilisation of ethnicity', published in R Harris and B Rampton (eds.), The Language, Ethnicity and Race Reader, Routledge, London, 2003
  15. ^ Dianne F. Sadoff, Victorian Vogue: British Novels on Screen, (U of Minnesota Press, 2009), p. 29, ISBN 978-0-8166-6092-6, citing works by Timothy Brennan and Jonathan Rose. Found at Google Books, accessed January 13, 2011.
  16. ^ Elizabeth Hafkin Pleck, Celebrating the family: ethnicity, consumer culture, and family rituals, p. 72. (Author Harvard University Press, 2000), ISBN 978-0-674-00279-1. Found at Google books. Accessed January 14, 2011.

Further reading[edit]

  • Holt, D. B., 'Jack Daniel’s America, Iconic brands as ideological parasites and proselytizers', Journal of Consumer Culture, Sage Publications, London, 2006
  • Fan, Y., 'Nation branding: what is being branded?', Journal of Vacation Marketing, 12:1, 5-14, 2006 from www.bura.brunel.ac.uk/handle/2438/1286
  • Meike, E., and Spiekermann, M., ‘Nation Branding: San Marino developing into a brand’, 2005
  • Weiner, E., National Public Radio's "Day to Day", January 11, 2006
  • Gumbel, P., Time Magazine, May 29, 2005
  • Risen, C., 'Branding Nations', New York Times, Dec 11, 2005
  • Guerrini, S., 'Designing Nationality: The production of image and identity by the Argentine State', University of Kent at Canterbury, 2008
  • Aronczyk, M., 'Better Living through Branding: Nation Branding and National Formations' in the Routledge Companion to Advertising and Promotional Culture, Matt McAllister and Emily West (ed.), New York Routledge, 2010
  • Aronczyk, M., 'Research in Brief. How do things with brands: Uses of National Identity', Canadian Journal of Communication, vol 34:291-296, 2009
  • Rose, J., 'Government advertising and the creation of national myths: The Canadian case', in ‘International Journal of Non-Profit and Voluntary Sector Marketing', Vol. 8, No. 2:153-165, Henry Stewart Publishing, 2003
  • Olins, W., from www.wallyolins.com/includes/branding.pdf
  • Olins, W., 'Branding the nation – the historical context in Journal of Brand Management', Vol 9:4-5, 2002
  • Danser, S., 'The Myths of Reality', Alternative Albion, Loughborough (UK), 2005
  • Endo, R., 'Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro-Asian connections and the myth of racial purity', by Vijay Prashard, International Migration Review, vol. 37, No. 4, The Future of the Second Generation: The Integration of Migrant Youth in Six European Countries (Winter) 1313-1314, 2003
  • Hewitt, R., 'Language, Youth and the destabilisation of ethnicity', published in R Harris and B Rampton (eds.), The Language, Ethnicity and Race Reader, Routledge, London, 2003
  • Sitki, H., ‘Myths, Symbols and Branding: Türkish National Identity and the EU', VDM, Dr. Muller Aktiengesellschaft & Co. KG, 2009

External links[edit]