Marketing and Fantasy
December 6, 7:00 MX-01
"We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams"
In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka, marketing maestro, quotes O'Shaugnessy and reminds us that the ultimate dream-makers of today are the marketers who inhabit our lives with rich and hedonistic spectacles of make-believe and fantasy. Advertising typically depicts fantastical situations of adventure and conquest and encourages consumers to use these fantasies to develop their own identities. As Colin Campbell wrote in his seminal Romanticism and the Spirit of Consumerism, consumption is often a world of day-dreaming and yearning and we need to get closer to the world of Walter Mitty - that fictitious day-dreamer- to engage more directly with the spirit of consumption.
Fantasy, of course, is a complicated phenomenon and has received much attention from psychologists The world of the phantasmagorical is of particular importance for psychoanalytic understandings of our mental architecture as it blends together unconscious desires and fears with the conscious experience of the everyday. As Sigmund Freud argued at the close of the 19th century, it is through the interpretation of dreams that we can best encounter the underlying forces that structure our lives and experiences. More recently, Jacques Lacan emphasises the realm of the imaginative as structuring our sense of reality alongside the symbolic and the real. Therefore in this instance we see a convergence of interest between marketers and psychologists into the imaginative realm.
Advertisers frequently rely on fantasy to sell products.
Of course if the world of imagination partly structures the everyday and if marketing throws its industrial might towards expanding our imaginative capacity, how real is the rest of our lives? As depicted in hit movies like Fight Club and the Matrix, disentangling the real from the imaginative from the symbolic and indeed the simulacra becomes an increasingly difficult conundrum that, in turn, gives rise to its own secondary level of fantasy.
On December 6 at Royal Holloway at 7:00 in MX001, we gather to consider this issue. We are very pleased to present two prestigious keynote speakers, Dominique Bouchet from University of Southern Denmark and John Desmond from St. Andrews University to consider the topic. Their presentations shall be followed by a panel discussion which will feature James Fitchett from the University of Leicester as well as the philosopher, Kate Soper. A wine reception shall follow. This promises to be a fascinating evening of discussion. All welcome.