The “Yes, We Can” 2008 presidential campaign slogan of Barak Obama echoes an earlier promotion slogan by the American Girl campaign of 2005. The American Girl “I Can” campaign began with a discourse of change, but the conservative segment of its sub-cultural fan community and interest groups challenged it through a discourse of stability. Often, a discourse of change engenders such challenges to business, but a culture of forward-looking industrial innovators seems to be trumping them. This paper investigates the discourse of change and stability as it regards a corporation’s relationship with its consumers and interest groups. Using de Certeau’s (1984) concept of strategic raiding and Henry Jenkins’ (1992) outline of the practices of fans as sub-cultural communities, this paper explores ways American Girl fans challenged, even poached the meanings of the campaign. Additionally, using Ting-Toomey’s cultural/ethnic identity negotiation theory, also known as face-negotiation theory, this case study of the 2005 American Girl campaign illustrates how the popular consumption and corporate production practices and conflict styles of American Girl fans and the American Girl Corporation are the product of cultural orientation and face concerns. This case study elucidates how consumption and production practices war in a hegemonic struggle over meaning. Tracing the discourse struggle in the case may help chart new business discourse dynamics and illustrate the possibility for social change in the market.
Business today depends on integrated communication to succeed in the global market. Communicating in emerging markets, in particular, requires strategies to include diverse cultures and subcultures. Ting-Toomey’s global conflict model illustrates how such inclusive strategies stimulate discursive and ideological tensions that have the potential to bring about change.
|Keywords:||Strategic Raiding, Campaign Discourse|
Professor-Visiting Lecturer, English and Communication Studies, St Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas, USA
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