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2012/2013  BA-POL_PBCC  'Brand Aid: Causes, Celebrities and Consumption'

English Title
'Brand Aid: Causes, Celebrities and Consumption'

Course information

Language English
Exam ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Bachelor
Duration One Semester
Course period Autumn
Course Coordinator: Stefano Ponte.
Changes may occur.
Thursday 11:40 to 14:15, week 36-41, 43-46.
Time Table Please see course schedule at e-Campus
Max. participants 50
Study board
Study Board for BSc/MSc i International Business and Politics, MSc
Course coordinator
  • Stefano Ponte - Department for Business and Politics
Main Category of the Course
  • Business Ethics, value based management and CSR
  • Globalization, International Business, markets and studies
  • International Political Economy
Last updated on 03-07-2012
Term Paper, 10 pages:
Type of test Term Paper
Marking scale 7-step scale
Second examiner No second examiner
Exam period Autumn Term
Aids Open Book, Written Aid is permitted
Duration Please, see the detailed regulations below
Course content
What links a handmade necklace of paper beads with a pair of Emporio Armani (RED) sunglasses or a pack of disposable diapers with a pink BMW luxury car?   Belonging in the time of neoliberalism shapes our politics and our purchases.  ‘Beads For Life’ are certified by Martha Stewart as ‘eradicating poverty one bead at a time.’  Bono assures us that a percentage of the profits of all (RED) co-branded products goes directly to the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria.  The voice of Salma Hayek, famous Mexican-American actress, informs consumers that ‘one pack of pampers=one lifesaving vaccine’; and the cast of the hit tv series ‘Friends’ tours in support of BMWs ultimate drive to raise money to fight breast cancer.

All of these products are marketed to ‘causumers’ who want to shop for a better world. ‘Ethical’ products are sold by marketing certain values.  But as globalization shifts traditional boundaries of production and exchange, new understandings are needed about what constitutes a better product, a better world or a more ‘ethical’ consumer.

Ethical consumption is one of the fastest growing trends in contemporary societies, as individuals find the marketplace provides a public opportunity for performing their personal values. We are all consumers:  people in the global North and South alike increasing rely on market transactions for their basic staples, their luxuries and even their lives. We are also citizens:  purchases have material and symbolic meaning and understanding the marketing of values is important for understanding political power. Existing understandings of ethical consumption rest on the core belief that reconnecting the sites of consumption with those of production will enable a fairer distribution of value along the chains, potentially driven by ‘fair trade’ and ‘ethical consumption’ purchases.  However, these perspectives fall short in their exclusive focus on the product itself as the location of ‘ethical’ value.  Brand Aid suggests that to push beyond the state of the art, we must not neglect this focus on products, but must also understand the causes that are ‘sold’ together with the products, and the celebrities that translate and embody an ethical leadership role in the management of consumers’ desire to do good while shopping well.

This course will theoretically and empirically examine how‘good causes’, celebrity and consumption overlap in view of understanding of how values shape contemporary consumption, and how consumer choice materializes values. Lectures covering concepts and empirical case studies will be integrated by discussion group work where the students will have the chance to engage in a guided discussion of case studies.
Teaching methods
Lectures and discussion groups
Last updated on 03-07-2012