This Year's Events
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October 31, 2014, 12:00 - 1:30 PM
Brand Volunteers: Unpaid Contributors to the Marketplace
Bernard Cova, Kedge Business School, Department of Marketing


Bernard Cova will present and discuss recent work about what he names brand volunteering. Through collaborative marketing approaches, companies invite consumers to provide unpaid contributions. Companies commonly do this in the realm of brand communities. The key question Bernard Cova addresses is: How can a company lead consumers to offer unpaid contributions to brands as an act of free will? To answer this question, he develops a framework based on volunteer commitment research to study the actions a company takes to engage consumers in unpaid work for brands. He uses this framework to analyse the online collaboration promoted by the carmaker Fiat with its brand community of Alfisti and the offline collaboration promoted by the endurance events organizer Tough Mudder with its community of Mudders. The results introduce the notion of brand volunteers: brand enthusiasts who are committed to providing unpaid work for the exclusive benefit of the brand. With this notion, the research discusses the possibility of exploiting consumers in value co-creation and the existence of compromises, signifying an agreement between two collaborating parties in which one party (here, the consumers) temporarily puts aside possible sources of conflict.

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February 6, 2015, 12:00 - 1:30 PM
Title to Be Announced
Amber Epp, University of Wisconsin, Department of Marketing


Abstract to be announced in January 2015.

Amber was selected as our 2014-15 "drive-in" speaker--someone who does not live in the Chicago area but who lives within reasonable driving distance and whose travel expenses are paid by our generous sponsors. Thanks to Alan Malter and his committee (Ashlee Humphreys and Michelle Weinberger) for choosing this year's speaker!

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March 6, 2015, 12:00 - 1:30 PM
Title to Be Announced
Eileen Fischer, York University, Department of Marketing


Abstract to be announced in January 2015.

Eileen was selected as our "fly-in" speaker for 2014-15--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!

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April 3, 2015, 12:00 - 1:30 PM
Royal Fever: The British Royal Family Brand Complex
Cele Otnes, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Business Administration
Pauline Maclaran, Royal Holloway University of London, Department of Marketing


In this presentation, Cele will join us to argue that the British Royal Family can be understood as a "brand complex" -- or a combination of several types of brands identified in the consumer behavior and marketing strategy literature. Cele and her co-author argue that defining complex brands as one type of entity (e.g., "human brands") may understate their complexity, the challenges they pose to marketers, and their sources of key narratives that can keep brands resonant and resilient. Drawing on a decade of ethnographic and sociocultural research, they demonstrate how consumers and producers of the Royal Family Brand Complex rely on these narratives to craft experiences with the brand. 

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May 8, 2015, 12:00 - 1:30 PM
The Bricolage of Death: Jewish Possessions and the Fashioning of the Prisoner Elite in Auschwitz-Birkenau, 1942-1945
Noah Benninga, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of History


Between spring of 1942 and January of 1945, nearly one million Jews were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Packing as though for resettlement, they brought with them whatever concentrated wealth and material goods they could. These goods were taken to the Effektenlager (‘Kanada’) to be sorted and shipped ‘back’ to the Reich, but in reality ‘leaked’ to all those involved. The Nazi authorities in fact allowed their limited circulation within the prisoner population for a variety of reasons, where they provided the material basis for the prisoner aristocracy and ‘middle management’ – totaling 15-20% of a population which at its high point approached 150,000. For this relatively thin stratum of prisoner functionaries, life in Auschwitz regained a ‘semblance of normality’, even becoming – at the highest positions – opulent. Using published accounts by survivors I examine the uses to which the privileged elite put their wealth: the creation of a bricolage economy and the extent to which it merited the use of the term ‘fashion’.

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