Archive for February, 2014

The blogs about McDonalds’ had very interesting information on the way that the brand as a ‘big business’ has greater control and represents more about America than meets the eye. They pointed out what wasn’t obvious about the brands representation within America and also about ‘Americanism’. For example the brands international success is a way of spreading ‘Americanism’, and that McDonalds is the ‘face’ of American wealth and influence. The blogs suggest that brands like McDonalds represent the 1% that has power within America, that make decisions to expand and influence, again stemming back to this idea of spreading ‘Americanism’. However what the blogs are missing is the obvious connections with America and how it is represented internationally. Dennis and Susan Hall write in their book American Icons that McDonalds’, ‘launched what has been described as the most expensive and aggressive ad campaign in American corporate history.’ [1] America is the birthplace of advertising, and McDonalds’ represents the 1950s/60s boom in advertising up until the current day. Also particularly in the 1950s/60s as Dennis and Susan Hall point out was a period of ‘growing American car culture and the increasingly fast pace of life.’ [2] This is still relevant today, America created this culture where we want everything now, and with the brands success internationally, this fast paced culture has spread. On a whole the blogs analysis of McDonalds as a ‘big business’ was very interesting and looked at its influence at angle that wasn’t obvious.

[1] Dennis and Susan G. Hall, American Icons (USA: Greenwood Press, 2006), p.453.

[2] Ibid.

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Newcastle Brown Ale (NBA) was the largest alcoholic drink in the UK in the 1990s and by 2000 the majority of its sales were in America. NBA broke the US by targeting the increase in Anglo/Irish bars, and as Richard Fletcher says in The Journal, ‘NBA was a dark beer and it tapped a niche in the US market.’[1] This shows the difference in the market, in the UK, the beer was seen and promoted as a working man’s drink, whereas in the US it was a much more niche market. Andy Pike said in Transactions of the institute of British Geographers, ‘Geographical entanglements in the place of Newcastle are evident in NBA’s origins.’[2]  However there’s also evidence to prove that the brands connection to the North East resides very little with the US, a staff member of NBA said, ‘The Americans couldn’t give a shit if it was brewed in Sunderland, Gateshead, wherever it is…they want English beer.’[3] The US cared more about the ‘Imported from England’ label. NBA’s advertising in the US have been a major selling point, the blue five point star became iconic and more recently the ‘No Bollocks’ campaign. Buzzfeed said recently ‘the campaign is especially brilliant when placed side by side with the bad, base beer advertising of America’s big spenders – Budweiser.’[4] Its recent ‘fake’ Super Bowl advert allowed the brand to tap into the Super Bowl advertising phenomenon at very little cost. The brand had to find a niche in the biggest market in the world and change its advertising strategy to compete. The beer still sells 100 million bottles in the UK each year with very little advertising however the brand had to change its strategy for America.  

[1] “How Newcastle Brown Ale earned its stripes in America,” The Journal, accessed February 15th, 2014, http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/north-east-news/how-newcastle-brown-ale-earned-4400775

[2] Andy Pike, “Placing Brands and Branding: a socio-spatial biography of Newcastle Brown Ale” Transactions of The Institute of British Geographers, Vol.36, No. 2 (2011), pp. 206-22

[3] Ibid.

[4] “Best Beer Advertising in The World,” Buzzfeed, accessed February 15th, 2014, http://www.buzzfeed.com/copyranter/the-best-beer-advertising-in-the-world-right-now

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In response to a previous blog that was focused on Henry Ford and his online presence, I would have to say that overall the blog does well to briefly lay out what an important figure Henry Ford was as it mentions the changes he made in business through the development of the assembly line, the fact his company manage to make cars that were not just available for the elite but for the working class average American. The blog also does well to briefly outline how Henry Ford is an example of a man who accomplished the American Dream and mentions the work Ford did in creating equality in America.

I do think though that ultimately the blog falls short of accomplishing the goal of presenting Ford as a truly iconic person as I don’t think it details enough of the impact he had on the world and the legacy that he left. I think that it needs to emphasize the huge impact he had on the word of business, his establishment of the assembly line is acknowledged but I would like to see a bit more on how important a creation this was and how it truly revolutionized the way products are made. Also the work he did not just for business but also for workers as he established things such as the five day working week. His way of running a business which coined the phrase Fordism created the mould for modern day business and I think this legacy could have been addressed further. I think the blog just needed to develop further its ideas of showing Ford’s impact on the world which was and still is massive. I think that as a brief overlay of Henry Ford the blog achieves its aims but I would like to see a bit more content that justifies Ford being called an icon and why personally the author thinks that.  

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Looking at the two blogs about the Bald Eagle as an American icon, they both manage to give a narrative of how the Bald Eagle became such a huge symbol of America as well as how it was not universally accepted when it was originally put forward to be the national emblem. However, in my view, the first blog focuses too much on the history and not enough on its iconic status. While the history of being made into an icon and its time as an endangered species is interesting, it would have been better to focus on its status and to have built upon what is mentioned in the final paragraph about it being a symbol to potential immigrants. The second blog mixes the Bald Eagle’s history and iconic status in a more balanced way. It feels more equal when reading through it and doesn’t feel necessarily focused on one aspect alone.

However, I feel that both blogs did not delve enough into analysis. In both there seems to be brief moments of analysis and then they jump back into the history. It would have perhaps been more interesting to build upon how Americans would rank the Bald Eagle as an icon as opposed to other things such as the Statue of Liberty. From my experience, although the Bald Eagle is featured a lot on the governmental level, it doesn’t exactly have a heavy emphasis in TV or movies unlike the Statue of Liberty, Hollywood, and American sport and I think it would have been interesting to delve more into that.

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The blogs about the American Bald Eagle contained a lot of interesting information about the bird and its place in American culture. Some of the connections would not be obvious to non-Americans, such as its presence on U.S. passports, which was very useful.

The blogs also offered a good analysis of dissent over adopting the Bald Eagle as a symbol of America. Remembering that history is not homogenous is incredibly important, and the writers did well to avoid this. They could have gone even further with this, and made some links between Benjamin Franklin’s opinions of the bird and some contemporary foreign sentiments about America as an aggressive and proud nation. Robert J. Lieber makes these connections explicit in his book Eagle Rules? Foreign Policy and American Primacy in the Twenty-First Century.

Although the writers discussed what the separate elements of the Seal symbolised in terms of America, they could have also looked at how the eagle, olive branch and fasces were also symbols of the Roman Empire, and perhaps commented on how the Founding Fathers appropriated classical myths and symbols when they established America’s own iconography.

The role of the eagle as a symbol of government is important in American iconography, but the writers could have also looked at what the birds mean to indigenous Americans. Elizabeth Atwood Lawrence points out that “for many American Indians, no being is more sacred than the eagle.” While there obviously was not room to cover everything, we should all keep in mind that the history and culture of America did not start with the Mayflower.

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