Brand Identity vs. National / Ethnic Identity

nikeThis semster I’ve been teaching a Media Literacy class at UMass Boston. Today the topic was advertising, brand identity, emotional branding, and the increasingly blurry lines between commerce and content. I was using Frontline’s “The New Pursuaders,” as a key discussion point.

At one point in the report an expert says that brands, like Apple, attempt to create a sense of community and belonging around them. That brands are filling voids left by the erosion of schools and churches.

It seems to me that in a globaizing world controlled by corporations brands are the new types of national flags. Kinda of like the world of Rollerball where the turf is the minds and dollars of cosumers. I asked my class if they felt that these newly constructed brand identies were any different than the early construction of clans, tribes, and nations.

One student indicated that national / ethnic identity was different because it is part of her and who she is. Will the next generation or the generations after being saying the same about their identification with a constellation of consumer goods that represent their “clan?”