Past events

2009 - 2010

October 9th, 2009
Computer-Aided Content Analysis
Ashlee Humphreys, Integrated Marketing Communications Department, Northwestern University

For this session, Ashlee led an interactive discussion about, and demonstration of, the resources available for computer-aided content analysis, as well as the plusses and minuses of using this method for analyzing qualitative data..


November 13th, 2009
Toward A Theory of Brand Discourse
Laura Oswald, Department of Advertising, University of Illinois

Current theories of meaning production and consumer response in marketing communication focus on advertisements taken in isolation from the brand legacy and the competitive context. Thus there is currently not an approach to advertising that accounts for the structure and context of brand meaning, a global discourse that transcends any particular advertisement and reiterates the brand position over time and across markets. In this presentation, Laura introduced the structural theory of discourse to account for implication of the surface message or text, cultural and ideological subtexts, and the implication of consumers/readers/spectators in the brand world. She argued that discourse theory constitutes the single most important advance in semiotic inquiry since Saussure, because it takes into consideration the dialectical relation between the structure of sign systems and the social codes structuring semiosis, or meaning production, a process that engages a communicating agent and a receiver in a communication event. She supported her discussion with case studies.


December 11th, 2010
Double Moral Hazard at 20,000 Feet
Gülnur Tumbat, Department of Marketing, San Francisco State University, Kent Grayson, Marketing Department, Northwestern University

In this presentation, Kent presented his research (co-authored with Gülnur Tumbat) on agency relationship between climbers and guides on Mount Everest. Participating in these relationships involves serious risks for both “sides” of the exchange relationship. Yet, while previous research on agency relationships has proposed a number of solutions for handling this kind of risk, many of these solutions do not apply on Everest. This presentation highlighted additional solutions for the agency problem, which have not been emphasized in previous work on agency relationships.


February 12th, 2010
The Costs of "Effectiveness" in Social Marketing Messaging
Rita Denny, Practica Group LLC, Chicago IL

This presentation described a study undertaken in New Zealand, which focused on both the semiotic codes of social marketing messages and the interpretations of this messaging by targeted audiences (including Maori and Pacific Islanders). The presentation questioned the utility of standard measures of ‘effectiveness’ (e.g., compliance), and instead asked, what is the price to be paid by such messaging when it undermines New Zealand cultural ideals and legends of solidarity?.


March 5th, 2010
Chief Culture Officer
Grant McCracken, Research Affiliate, Convergence Culture Consortium, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

During this presentation, Grant discussed his new book, Chief Culture Officer: How to Create A Living Breathing Corporation. The book argues that every company needs a chief cultural officer to anticipate cultural trends rather than passively waiting for these trends and reacting to them. The book specifies the skills that a CCO should have, and provides a range of examples of companies that have benefited by having someone playing the role of CCO in spirit (if not also in name).

Grant was selected as our first annual "fly-in" speaker--someone who does not live within driving distance of Chicago and whose travel expenses are paid by our generous sponsors. As is true every year, nominations and voting for the "fly in" speaker were open to everyone on the C4 mailing list. Thanks to all who participated!


April 9th, 2010
Aesthetics and Beyond in Advertising: Theory of Distance in Aesthetics and its Implication in Advertising
Vivienne Chen, Department of Managementand Marketing, Oakland University

In this presentation, Vivienne addressed one major aspect in aesthetic theory--the distance--and explored how consumers, without self interest, appreciate the advertising and get involved with the aesthetic elements..