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Tuesday, 4 October 2011

MA Marketing Camp 2011

The Marketing of Comedy, the Comedy of Marketing
Marketing Camp at Royal Holloway, University of London
Wednesday 12 October 2011, 7:00pm
Arts Lecture Theatre

NB - if you are not an MA Marketing student or are MA Marketing alumni and wish to attend, please email me at

Stephen Brown, Jonathan Kesselman, Finola Kerrigan, Dean Craig, James Fitchett and more...

“By the way, if anyone here is in marketing or advertising… kill yourself. Thank you.” Bill Hicks

Writer, director and producer Jonathan Kesselman will address this year's Marketing Camp.

From Boomerang (1992) to How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989) to What Women Want (2000) the portrayal of marketers tends not to be particularly reverential but rather one of morally bankrupt shysters in urgent need of redemption. Even early movies like the Travelling Saleslady (1935), Ex-Lady (1933) or the Easiest Way (1931) present such dark humoured representations leading us to suggest that ever since the emergence of cinema, the medium has been used to laugh at marketing as a site of morally bankrupt production of, at best, nonsense or at worst, corrupting ideology. Where the gaze is turned inwards to examine the impact of marketing upon filmic production as in, say, What Just Happened (2008) the representation is no less complimentary with marketing revealed to be a conservative force undermining directorial vision and true art.
Such is the extent of the phenomenon that the esteemed Marketing Professor Steven M. Shugan writing in Marketing Science (2006), with a tiny hint of hubris, encourages marketing scholars to take such content seriously as “the depiction of business and businesspeople in motion pictures might have as great an influence on public perceptions of business as all of our research combined” (p681) leading us to wonder if the real comedy of marketing is to be found not in its depiction but in its scholarship, in all its pseudo-scientific, clich├ęd, po-faced, power-pointing self important glory. If not inadvertently or unknowingly hilarious marketing is often at its best when embracing comedy itself – see for example the work of Stephen Brown.

Stephen Brown, will make a rare appearance at the event speaking on the topic Sex With Philip Kotler.

Meanwhile advertising has often been a great source of comedy with many of the great and good of the comedic world trying their hand in the trade, though sometimes via clandestine trips to Japan. More recently given the rise of social media and increasing levels of disintermediation we live in an age where comics can be found promoting themselves via blogs, tweets webpages and beyond. Of course this continues the tradition of comics as entrepreneurs carving out careers in the circuit via self-financed and self-promoted shows at places like Edinburgh.  If it was ever true that a division between marketing and comedy existed in the first place, then it is a division that is increasingly difficult to discern.

Finola Kerrigan, author of Fim Marketing
In this context of convergence of comedy and marketing we gather at Royal Holloway to provide discussions, encounters and interventions between marketing scholars and comedians. A variety of topics shall be considered: stories from comedians who struggle in a world of marketing, marketers who struggle in a world that is profoundly funny, best practices and lessons learnt from marketing comedy and indeed anything at all that fits the bill of the comedy of marketing, the marketing of comedy.

The speakers will include Jonathan Kesselman, US-based writer, director, producer and comedian best known for his production of the cult classic The Hebrew Hammer. Jonathan will speak about his experiences and encounters of marketing practice. Professor Stephen Brown, is an enigma. Finola Kerrigan of King's College is author of Film Marketing and is a well established author whose work relating to the marketing of independent movies spans a decade.

Dean Craig, maker of Death at a Funeral
Professor of Marketing James Fitchett
Also speaking on the day will be Professor James Fitchett from the University of Leicester, Dean Craig - maker of the hit movie Death At a Funeral, with more guests to be added closer to the day.

Shugan, Steven M. (2006), "Antibusiness movies and folk marketing," Marketing Science, 25 (6), 681-85.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this Alan, 'twas a great evening of marketing pyrotechnics