Blogging is hard to doo...

Post date: Oct 29, 2010 7:48:5 AM

A new experience is made - it's exciting to start a blog, very difficult to maintain one. I have been telling myself time and time again to write, but either my topics were too disjointed or insufficiently researched. And then I thought 'it's a blog, it's ok to write about disjointed topics'. Therefore, in a stream of consciousness fashion (don't worry, I'm leaving in the punctuation), here it goes:

There are a number of things going on in my head, particularly after reading Stephen Brown's 'Marketing Code'. I loved the book for many different reasons. A) it brings me back to Edinburgh and Ireland, b) it's a decent story, and c) it presents so nicely the best and worst in marketing. Regarding the latter, I was particularly fascinated when it came to the marketing focus on 'people's needs'. If you still think as a marketer you should go on a quest for 'needs', read this book and smile. This book may actually be a better study guide than a lot of text books out there. Plus, your students may actually enjoy reading it. The notion of 'people's needs' brought me back to the trends I observed in my recent excursion to the field of entrepreneurship. In my experience of marketing and particularly consumer research, some of the advances can certainly cross-fertilise entrepreneurial research and have a real impact for start-up companies. I'm leaving these thoughts for later in the year or even 2011 although the seed has been planted. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, my own research community has me back and the paper production is in full swing. I have forgotten how nice it is to concentrate on research. The nicest thing about this is the idea that there is something to say, a story to tell, something to contribute. My papers have me thinking about technology and research methods, of course ethnography and participant observation, and, my favourite, gendered consumption and marketing. Particularly in my new surroundings in London, I'm surprised with the different 'versions' of masculinities I come across - very different to Scotland and Ireland. There's another project in there waiting to come out but let's get the other stuff done first.

London brings me on to another topic: public transport. If energy had a colour, it'd be very deep dark and muffled in the underground. The underground is a very peculiar place and I'm telling you, there's a paper in the making here too. I remember that as a teenager I used to enjoy the underground so much, not so much now. London underground is different to anywhere else I know in Europe. It (re-)presents so much of London culture - the individuals, the fashion, the over-paid jobs, but also the struggle to survive, the poor. Most importantly, to me it defines market(ing) fragmentation. I'm always taken by the art pieces and the 'intermission' ads London underground place between commercial ads for books, theatres, cinema, travel, etc. I love the poems and survey results where '70% + surveyed at an underground station agreed to being 'fluid''. What does that mean, fluid? You can advertise anything on the London underground but I'm wondering what these ads mean to this vast diversity of people that pass through the trains. While this is one fascinating and exciting aspect, I'm also thinking about Maffesoli's 'times of the tribes' and the 'loss of individualism in mass society'. The underground is not a 'neo-tribal' space and, if anything, individualism is celebrated here. In fact, if you are not an individualist you may feel marginalised. People appear rather packed together passively, not in the pursuit of a shared interest. At the same time I wonder if they do share similarities... the compromise of people for the sake of saving time, sharing a space rather than a practice. They do not come together to be creative or emotional (or do they?). Yet, the collective motion of the crowd moving in and out of trains reminds me of flocks of sheep. If ever I saw a crowd, it's here. At times I cannot stop the temptation of making sheep noises on the steps of Clapham Junction. Watch out and you may hear me go 'bah, bah' (or is that 'meh' - depends on the language of the sheep I guess). What's going on then - sheep or individualist - or maybe a herd of individualists.

In fact the only time I may have come across a neo-tribal moment in London was while watiting for a friend at Bond Street station. Silly me, going to Oxford St on a Saturday... not that the shoppers shared this kind of community - here is another survival-of-the-fittest example. Rather, I'm ending my piece on a seasonal note. Watiting for my friend at the tube stop, I witnessed a gathering of 'zombies', probably a few hundred of them. Between the shopping madness, these people were extremely creatively dressed to say the least - white and pale, eyeballs hanging out, open guts, blood and very realistic wounds painted on body and faces. It was a bit scary to be honest... They all managed to squeeze themselves into the open space in front of a pub and down the street (away from Oxford St of course). The purpose of the gathering seemed to be one giant roar they left at around 3pm. After this, the crowd dissolved and everyone went their own ways. For a very fleeting moment, I wished I had put on my face paint too - not that anyone would have noticed anything different on the underground.