This actually relates to both this class and AMST 524, in which last week we read Sarah Banet-Weiser's Authentic: The Politics of Ambivalence in Brand Culture. Banet-Weiser talks about brands as being all wrapped up in American culture and how such branding is about the selling of not just products but emotional relationships between consumer and company (where the company might be a big corporation like Dove or an individual selling him/herself online). Of course, while reading that I thought about West's coffee ethnography and the creation of affective relationships re: specialty coffees, among other things.

Anyway, I had a rather cool moment in my WSt 200 class today that I wanted to reflect on. We're beginning a section on media representations of women, and I showed them the Dove Evolution commercial from 2006 that launched Dove's Real Beauty campaign. About half the class had seen the commercial already, and they were quite familiar with the idea that beauty is constructed in these ads to fit certain (mainly unattainable) ideals. I asked them what possible benefit Dove might have in providing the consuming public with this "revelation." In essence, what is Dove selling? One student raised her hand and answered, "I think they're selling a relationship, trying to show us that they're not so bad and that they care about us."

It was a pretty rad moment for me to witness how many people realize, on some level, the branding that happens and the huge extent to which companies will go to foster "authentic" relationships with their consumers. I guess my question was (and I would have asked the student, but it would have gotten us off track from the subject matter at hand, maybe) how much that actually affected their consumption choices if they do understand this branding as another marketing ploy.

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