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When consumers and brands talk: Storytelling theory and research in psychology and marketing

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Abstract

Storytelling is pervasive through life. Much information is stored, indexed, and retrieved in the form of stories. Although lectures tend to put people to sleep, stories move them to action. People relate to each other in terms of stories—and products and brands often play both central and peripheral roles in their stories. To aid storytelling research in consumer psychology, this article develops a narrative theory that describes how consumers use brands as props or anthropomorphic actors in stories they report about themselves and others. Such drama enactments enable these storytellers to experience powerful myths that reflect psychological archetypes. The article includes findings from case study research that probes propositions of the theory. Implications for consumer psychology and marketing practice follow the discussion of the findings. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
When Consumers
and Brands Talk:
Storytelling Theory and
Research in Psychology
and Marketing
Arch G. Woodside
Boston College
Suresh Sood
University of Technology, Sydney, Australia
Kenneth E. Miller
University of Technology, Sydney, Australia
ABSTRACT
Storytelling is pervasive through life. Much information is stored,
indexed, and retrieved in the form of stories. Although lectures tend
to put people to sleep, stories move them to action. People relate to
each other in terms of stories—and products and brands often play
both central and peripheral roles in their stories. To aid storytelling
research in consumer psychology, this article develops a narrative
theory that describes how consumers use brands as props or anthro-
pomorphic actors in stories they report about themselves and others.
Such drama enactments enable these storytellers to experience pow-
erful myths that reflect psychological archetypes. The article includes
findings from case study research that probes propositions of the
theory. Implications for consumer psychology and marketing practice
follow the discussion of the findings. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Psychology & Marketing, Vol. 25(2): 97–145 (February 2008)
Published online in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com)
© 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. DOI: 10.1002/mar.20203
97
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More often than not, in America at least, those who win in myth markets
are performing a myth of rebelling; the most successful icons rely on an
intimate and credible relationship with a rebel world: Nike with the
African-American ghetto, Harley with outlaw bikers, Volkswagen
with bohemian artists, Apple with cyberpunks, Mountain Dew with
slackers—protagonists who would rather pursue quixotic activities than
“grow up” and get serious about careers. (Holt, 2003)
CONSUMER STORYTELLING THEORY
A myth is a traditional story about heroes or supernatural beings, often
explaining the origins of natural phenomena or aspects of human behav-
ior. The myth of rebellion builds from the outlaw archetype reflecting
the motto, “[parental, follow-the-leader, and societal] rules are meant to
be broken” (cf. Mark & Pearson, 2001). The central proposition of the
present article is that consumers often use products and services as props
or anthropomorphic identities to enact story productions that reflect
archetypal myths (cf. Holt & Thompson, 2004; Wertime, 2002). Story-
telling of such enactments includes conversations between consumers
and brands on both unconscious and conscious levels of thinking (cf.Wang
et al., 2007; Zaltman, 2003).
The work of several other scholars in consumer behavior (e.g.,Adaval
& Wyer, 1998; Arnould & Wallendorf, 1994; Hirschman, 1986; Holt &
Thompson, 2004; Padgett & Allen, 1997) and in related fields of human
inquiry (Bruner, 1990; Mitroff & Kilman, 1976; Orr 1990; Schank &
Ableson, 1977; Zukier, 1986) support the view that “. . . people think
narratively rather than argumentatively or paradigmatically” (cf. Weick
1995, p. 127; Wells, 1989).
Stories and storytelling are central to achieving a deep understanding
of consumer psychology (cf. Escalas & Stern, 2003; Holt, 2004). The follow-
ing five propositions inform this conclusion. First, people naturally think
narratively rather than argumentatively or paradigmatically (Hiltunen,
2002; McKee, 2003; Weick, 1995). The movie director Steven Spielberg
dramatically illustrates the point:
Once upon a time it was a small gathering of people around a fire lis-
tening to the storyteller with his tales of magic and fantasy. And now it’s
the whole world. In Japan and in Finland, in the heartland of America,
in Italy and Spain, in Singapore and France . . . still they gather to hear
the stories. But now they gather in multiplexes in Britain, Germany,
Spain, Australia . . . or giant movie places in Mexico. That’s what has
thrilled me most about Jurassic Park phenomenon. It’s not ‘domination’
by American cinema. It’s just the magic of storytelling, and it unites the
world. And that is truly gratifying (1994, quoted in Hiltunen, 2002, p. xii).
A casual search of blogging (i.e., entries to personal online journals)
expands on Spielberg’s view. Weblogs are individuals’ own stories of
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their lived experiences, beliefs, and attitudes that often include pictures
(photoblogs) and video (vlogs). Weblogs are expanding exponentially in
the first decade of the 21st century—from less than 1,000 in 2000 to 30
million plus in 2007 (Kluth, 2006). Blogging appears to be a revolutionary
way of communicating whereby individuals provide commentary on their
lives and the lives of others via such services as LiveJournal.com and
MySpace.com—to name only two of many such services.As a counterpart
to individual blogging Web sites, Wang et al. (2007) show that marketers
attempts to create social roles for brands in commercial Web sites increase
consumers’ interest, attention, and feeling of control (and indirectly
their Web site purchase intentions compared to informative [lecture-
format] Web sites).
Second, a substantial amount of information stored in and retrieved
from memory is episodic—stories that include inciting incidents,
experiences, outcomes/evaluations, and summaries/nuances of person-
to-person and person-and-brand relationships within specific contexts
(see Fournier, 1998; Schank, 1990). Third, retrieving, reliving, or repeat-
watching stories results in what Aristotle (see Hiltunen, 2002) refers to
as “proper pleasure”—a catharsis—that relates usefully to the work of
Holt (2003) and Jung (1916/1959): Watching, retrieving, and telling stories
enables the individual to experience one or more archetypal myths.
An archetype is an unconscious primary form, an original pattern or
prototype in the human mind; archetypes are not learned or acquired—
they are with us from birth and are as natural and embedded in us as
our own DNA (Jung, 1916/1959; Wertime, 2002).
Fourth, specific brands and products often play pivotal roles enabling
consumers to achieve the proper pleasure that results in a consumer
mentally and/or physically enacting a specific archetype—and reliving
the experience by periodically retelling a given story. The brand-consumer
storytelling and pleasure outcome builds on Bagozzi and Nataraajan’s
idea (2000, p. 10) “that people need help in finding what makes
them happy, and this is where marketing comes in.” Happiness via
brands enabling consumers to enact archetypal stories is a micro
complementary proposal to Nataraajan and Bagozzi’s (1999) more
macro explication of the role of marketing in aiding consumers’ conscious
quest for happiness.
Fifth, individuals seek clarity, to make sense of prior conversations,
events, and outcomes from others and themselves by telling stories. “How
do I know what I think until I hear what I say?” (Weick, 1995) partly
summarizes this proposition. Story repetition is often a plea for clarity
that may be achievable in part by recognizing that the drama in the
story is one illustration of one or more specific archetypes (e.g., story of
rebellion, mother-of-goodness, little trickster, ultimate strength, the hero;
see Wertime, 2002, for the storylines for these and other archetypes).
The above set of propositions builds from the proposals of Holt
(2003), Hiltunen (2002), Jung (1916/1959), Mark & Pearson (2001),
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and Wertime (2002). The propositions help to explicitly describe how
brands enable archetype outcomes. The proposals here go deeper than
Holt’s (2003, 2004) proposal that icons are encapsulated myths; the pro-
posals in the present article describe how consumers’ stories involving
actions with brands and products provide a proper pleasure (Aristotle’s
Poetics, Butcher, 1961) that relates unconsciously to one or more arche-
types (Jung, 1916/1959) and helps consumers achieve deep satisfying
levels of sense making.
The observation that many consumers are motivated to report, via
blogs and other forms of personal journals, on their lived experiences
involving buying and using brands is one impetus for research on
consumer storytelling. Such personal online journals are unlike tradi-
tional diaries in two respects: Blog entries are displayed in reverse
chronological order and though traditional journals were private or even
secret affairs that were never linked to other journals, blogs are social in
nature, whether they are open to the public as a whole or only to a small
select group (Kluth, 2006).
Today a new blog is created every second of every day, according to
Technorati, a search engine for blogs, and the “biosphere” is doubling in
size every five months (Kluth, 2006). A casual search of blogs via
Technorati, Google, or Ask by brand names and adjectives (e.g., “Honda”
or “Hawaii” and “good” or “bad”) brings forth dozens of blog entries of
seemingly mundane reports of buying and experiencing a Honda or a
visit to Hawaii.
Why would anyone care to share or read such stories? Three ratio-
nales help to explain this behavior. First, telling stories is inherently
pleasurable to the authors; such storytelling allows authors to be both pro-
tagonist and audience and to vent anger or report bliss about events and
outcomes over and over again, and to enjoy the nostalgia of reliving ear-
lier experiences (see Schindler & Holbrook, 2003). Second, to some extent
consciously, but mostly unconsciously, storytelling permits the teller to
experience an archetype fulfillment; the plot line in the story told provides
evidence that the storyteller-as-protagonist represents a regular guy/gal,
lover, jester, creator, ruler, rebel, sage, hero, outlaw, magician, or some
other archetypal primal form. Third, telling stories revises and deepens
sense making of the meaning of events in the story and what the com-
plete story implies about oneself and others.
Schank (1990, p. 219) proposes that people think mostly in terms of
stories. “They understand the world in terms of stories that they have
already understood. New events or problems are understood by reference
to old previously understood stores and explained to others by the use of
stories.” Woodside and Uncles (2005) empirically confirm the importance
of behavioral primacy affecting not only what consumers are able to under-
stand but also what they prefer and do in subsequent time priods.
The following stream of research provides a strong justification for
storytelling theory building in consumer psychology as well as for creating
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and testing the impact of storytelling in marketing contexts (e.g.,Adaval &
Wyer, 1998). Consumers often include products and brands in reporting
their own (emic) lived experiences (e.g., see Arnould & Wallendorf, 1994;
Hirschman, 1986; Kozinets, 2002; Moore, 1985; Woodside & Chebat, 2001);
consumers assign roles, actions, and relationships to brands (Fournier,
1998) in the stories they tell to themselves and to others; brands enable
consumers to enact archetypal myths (e.g., drinking Mountain Dew
enables the slacker myth; see Holt, 2003).
Classical drama provides a definition of a “good” (McKee, 2003), or
memorable, story: A good story displays tension that includes one
or more inciting incidents preceded by conditions or settings that initi-
ate the unconscious/conscious identification of one or more goals, with
actions by a protagonist and possibly additional actors resulting in an
outcome; the temporary occurrences of world blocks (e.g., an antagonist
temporarily preventing the protagonist from achieving the main goal)
and/or personal blocks (e.g., the protagonist lacks the skill to perform an
act necessary to reach the goal) serve to increase viewer and/or pro-
tagonist emotion and involvement in a story. Taking steps to overcome
blocks such as seeking and gaining help from others occur frequently
in stories.
The present article expands on brands-as-icons storytelling research
by developing a narrative theory of consumer storytelling involving iconic
brands. The theory’s core proposition reflects the views of a leading
screenwriting coach (McKee, 2003): Consumers seek out or find them-
selves in unfamiliar and/or anxiety inducing contexts; consumers
consciously and/or unconsciously act in scenes that take them through
and out of these contexts; stories lead consumers to consciously and
unconsciously reflect and make sense of the story, their actions in the
story, and the outcomes of the story (cf. Weick, 1995).
Following this introduction, the next section of this article advances
a theory of consumer storytelling. The third section develops 10 propo-
sitions that follow from consumer storytelling theory. Section four presents
a case study research method that probes these propositions. Section
five presents the findings of the study. The final section includes a
discussion relating the findings to the theory, limitations, strategy impli-
cations and future research suggestions.
CONSUMER STORYTELLING RESEARCH
Consumer storytelling theory builds on several related streams of theory
and research, including Holt and Thompson’s (2004) view that dramatic
consumption experiences must be scripted, either by experiential service
providers or within the institutional structure of a consumer subculture.
Thus, the structure of a word-of-mouth (WOM) communication is an impor-
tant indicator of whether the message is a story. A story’s structure includes
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two important elements: chronology and causality (Delgadillo & Escalas,
2004). Regarding chronology, narrative thinking organizes events in terms
of a temporal dimension: Action occurs over time. This discussion of story
matches with classical drama versus vignettes or lectures; see Stern (1994)
and Escalas & Stern (2003) for details comparing these three forms of com-
munications.Wells (1989) provides thorough descriptions of drama and lec-
ture communications relevant for crafting advertising strategies.
Time figures in narrations as episodes (e.g., situations via scenes within
acts in a drama); each episode has a beginning, middle, and end, whereas
time in reality is an undifferentiated continuous flow (Bruner, 1990;
Escalas, 1998). “Second, narrative thought structures elements [scenes,
action, talk, and acts] into an organized framework that establishes
relationships between the story’s elements [e.g., actors including persons,
products, and brands; see Fournier, 1998] and allows for causal infer-
encing” (Delgadillo & Escalas, 2004, p. 187). Escalas (1998) provides a
narrative structure coding scale that reflects her assessment of the
literature (also see Bruner, 1990, and Gergen & Gergen, 1988) on what
makes for a good, or well-crafted, story.
Bruner (1990) proposes two dimensions that relate to crafting a good
story: the landscape of action and the landscape of consciousness. The
landscape of action consists of events that are visible (by sight or imag-
ination) to the casual observer: initiating event, resulting actions, and
outcomes. The landscape of consciousness allows the reader/viewer to
get inside the head of the story’s characters (e.g., protagonist and antag-
onist). As Delgadillo & Escalas (2004, p. 187) emphasize, According to
Bruner, a story with both a landscape of action and consciousness is a
better story than one that contains only a landscape of action.”
Gergen and Gergen (1988) offer the concept of evaluative slope in
theorizing about storytelling: Events in a story are evaluated over time
(as it occurs in the narrative) for the degree these events improve or
worsen the state of the protagonist. Stories that have a steep incline
or decline in evaluative slope and those that alternate in sign (e.g., rising,
falling, then rising again) evoke the most emotion (see Delgadillo &
Escalas, 2004).
Six propositions inform Escalas’ (1998) scale items (items appear in
quotes) for measuring the degree of good storytelling. A 5-point scale
applies for each item ranging from 1, not at all, to 5, very much. The
story presents a protagonist engaging in actions to achieve goals; (1) “To
what extent do these thoughts consist of actors engaged in actions
to achieve goals?” The story informs about conscious and/or uncon-
scious thoughts of the protagonist and other actors; (2) To what extent
do these thoughts let you know what the actors are thinking and feeling?”
The story informs about how personal evolution or change in the life of
the protagonist occurs; (3) “To what extent do these thoughts provide
you with insight about the personal evolution or change in the life of a
character?” The story informs how events involving the protagonist, take
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place; (4) “To what extent do these thoughts explain why things happen,
that is, what caused things to happen?” The story has an inciting event
(a crisis or turning point) involving the protagonist, along with a begin-
ning and a resolution; (5) “To what extent do these thoughts have a well-
delineated beginning (initial event), middle (crisis or turning point), and
ending (conclusion)?” The story presents the protagonist in clear-cut sit-
uations; (6) “To what extent do these thoughts focus on specific, particular
events rather than generalizations or abstractions?”
Consumer storytelling theory builds from memory systems research
as well (e.g., Bettman, 1979; Tulving, 1985). From reviews of the theo-
retical and empirical literature, Tulving (1985) provides a ternary clas-
sification scheme that consists of procedural, semantic, and episodic
memory monohierarchical subsystems.
The system at the lowest level of the hierarchy, procedural memory,
contains semantic memory as its single specialized subsystem, and
semantic memory, in turn, contains episodic memory as its single
specialized subsystem. In this scheme, each higher system depends on,
and is supported by, the lower system or systems, but it possesses unique
capabilities not possessed by the lower systems....Episodic memory
affords the additional capability of acquisition and retention of knowl-
edge about personally experienced events and their temporal relations
in subjective time and the ability to mentally “travel back” in time.
(Tulving 1985, p. 387)
Tulving (1985, p. 388) emphasizes that episodic memory associates
with self-knowing consciousness, “Autonoetic (self-knowing) consciousness
is a necessary correlate of episodic memory. It allows an individual to
become aware of his or her own identity and existence in subjective time
that extends from the past through the present to the future.” Tulving’s
assessment fits well with Weick’s (1995) assessment that people make
sense of events, outcomes, and self by telling themselves and others
stories about what they have experienced. According to Weick (1995),
all sense making is retrospective and based on storytelling to self and
others by the storyteller.
Consumer psychology and psychoanalytic research on brands as anthro-
pomorphic identities, archetypes, and on brands as icons (see Fournier,
1998; Hirschman, 2000a; Holt, 2003; Rapaille, 2004) informs consumer
storytelling theory. For example, a consumer and brand may be bound in
a kinship relationship by automatic (unconscious triggering) of inherited
brand use from the consumer’s mother. Fournier (1998) describes 15
consumer-brand relationship forms including arranged marriages,
kinships, flings, secret affairs, enslavements, courtships, and others).
Jung (1916/1959, p. 101) defines archetypes as “forms or images of a
collective nature which occur practically all over the earth as constituents
of myth and at the same time as autochthonous (biologically based uncon-
scious thinking) individual products of unconscious origin.” Campbell
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(1968, 1974) argues that most archetypal forms originated in Sumer and
Akkad around 2500 B.C.
From this beginning, he proposes, all other textual narratives
represent a “provincial extension of the one historic heritage and
universal history of mankind (1964, p. 133). Archetypal images include
such widely recognized symbols as the tree of life, the raven and jackal
as death images, owls as symbols of wisdom, ships as carriers of the
dead, birds as female figures, the earth as a womb, and so forth
(Hirschman, 2000a, p. 60).
Hirschman (2000a, p. 60; also see Hirschman 2000b) reports ample
evidence of archetypal thought among consumers in the stories they
tell: “For example, Campbell (1973, p. 71) writes of ‘the helpful crone
and fairy godmother as a familiar feature (supporting actors) of European
fairy lore.’ This female figure serves as a helper or guide to the novice in
the story, providing special wisdom or knowledge to help the novice
complete his/her task.” Lisa, age 20, describes an exemplar of this arche-
type in the character of Mrs. Garrett, the headmistress on the television
series The Facts of Life:
They lived in a boarding school. And from what I can remember about
the show, they were always doing something wrong and then being told
a lesson. Something happens, but it always ended by teaching a lesson
somehow. Mrs. Garrett, I remember her. She was like the keeper of the
school, or at least the girl’s dorm. And I guess she was like their mom,
their psychiatrist, because she always had the right answers and she
always had the right ways, and they were always asking her for advice.
And she was this old red-headed lady. . . . So she was always directing
them in the right direction. (Hirschman, 2000a, p. 60)
Without referring to earlier work by Jung, Campbell, or Hirschman,
Holt (2003) interprets storytelling in television commercials as mani-
festations of primary forms, that is, archetypes. For example, Holt (2003,
p. 48) provides the following interpretation for the “Do the Dew” ad
campaign for Mountain Dew soft drink brand, “With the ‘Do the
Dew’ campaign, Mountain Dew reinvented the wild man (prior campaign
focus for the brand) as a slacker. In these spoofs of extreme sports, all
presented as do-it-yourself quests, the brand asserted that the real men
of America’s free-agent frontier weren’t the most buff or competitive
athletes, but the creative guys who pursued their stunts as whimsical
art. Slackers didn’t just face down dangerous situations that came their
way. They sought out insane life-threatening risks. The Dew guys upped
the ante on masculine risk taking to absurd levels, which, in the end,
made fun of the idea that manhood has anything to do with such feats.
The people with real power, in Mountain Dew’s worldview, were people with
extreme—and very particular—tastes. Slackers had no power as workers,
but they could assert their will in the corporate world by asserting their
opinions. Companies and their managers would have to take notice.”
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Holt and Thompson (2004, p. 425) advance such archetypal analysis
in their analysis of two consumers’ self stories. Holt and Thompson
propose through their analysis that “American mass culture idealizes
the man-of-action hero—an idealized model of manhood that resolves the
inherent weaknesses in two other prominent models (the breadwinner
and the rebel)—what we call the ideology of heroic masculinity—to con-
struct themselves in dramatic fashion as man-of-action heroes.” In a view
the present article adopts, Hunt (1993) criticizes Holt’s (1991) prior argu-
ment that such interpretative research should not be subject to audits,
triangulation, and purposive sampling but should be judged alone on its
insightfulness and “ability to convince the reader, no more.”
Rapaille (2004) emphasizes that learning a core cultural archetype
occurs early in life through an imprinting epiphanic experience that
establishes an unconscious behavior pattern—and such imprinting occurs
only during a critical period of time (age 1 to 6), after which it is very
difficult or impossible to imprint. Rapaille’s interpretive research describes
alternative collective unconscious archetypes that drive different cultures;
he describes how the American mind is very different from the French
mind, for example.
The early storytelling research by McClelland (1961, 1988) informs
Rapaille’s proposition that epiphanic story experiences imprint people
with collective unconscious archetypes. McClelland demonstrates this
by analyzing unsolicited stories written in everyday life (e.g., using multi-
item closed end scales that build in degrees-of-freedom for interpreting
case data; see Campbell, 1975; Wilson & Woodside, 1999), that cultures
vary in their orientations toward needs for achievement, power, and
affiliation.
Holt (2003) proposes that some brands become icons—brands that
permit consumers to experience powerful myths consciously or uncon-
sciously. Myths are simple stories with compelling characters and
resonant plots; myths help consumers make sense of the world. “Myths
provide ideals to live by, and they work to resolve life’s most vexing ques-
tions. Icons are encapsulated myths. They [icons] are powerful because
they deliver myths to us in a tangible form, thereby making them more
accessible” (Holt 2003, p. 44).
Consumer self-awareness processing in making myths accessible is
worthy of attention by consumer researchers. For example, examining
an unsolicited self-reported (emic) story, Woodside and Chebat (2001)
apply Heider’s balance and change theories in examining how a Jewish
couple consciously copes with automatic-unconscious retrievals of Nazism
and the Holocaust when considering the purchase of a German car
(cf. Holt, 2002).
Research on storytelling (e.g., see Arnould & Wallendorf, 1994; Fournier,
1998; McKee, 2003; Schank, 1990; Zaltman, 2003) is useful because
it helps clarify and deepen knowledge of how people resolve paradoxes
triggered in their minds by unbalanced states (ranging from a vague
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conscious feeling of unease to awareness of a problem or opportunity
arising from an inciting incident). Learning stories enables the researcher
to examine the complexity often associated with initial balanced states
(e.g., the personal prequel history of the protagonist and supporting
actors in a story that affects how consumers interpret the situation in
which an inciting incident occurs) that lead to imbalance and the steps
taken (consciously and unconsciously—see Wegner, 2002) to achieve old
or new balance states.
Essentially, a story expresses how and why life changes. It begins with
a situation in which life is relatively in balance: You come to work day
after day, week after week, and everything’s fine. You expect it will go on
that way. But then there’s an event—in screenwriting, we call it the
“inciting incident”—that throws life out of balance. You get a new job, or
the boss dies of a heart attack, or a big customer threatens to leave.The story
goes on to describe how, in an effort to restore balance,the protagonist’s sub-
jective expectations crash into an uncooperative objective reality. A good
storyteller describes what it’s like to deal with these opposing forces,
calling on the protagonist to dig deeper, work with scarce resources,
make difficult decisions, take action despite risks, and ultimately discover
the truth. (McKee, 2003, p. 52)
The drama versus lecture literature in consumer research offers propo-
sitions in addition to McKee’s proposals on the crafting of stories by
marketers to persuade consumers (e.g., Stern, 1994; Wells, 1989). Wells
(1989) provides guidance on how dramas differ from lectures: Lectures are
directed at an audience; dramas are overheard. Television commercial
dramas teach lessons about how products add to the quality of life. Under
certain circumstances, they also provide true samples of the emotional
rewards enabled by the advertiser’s brand. Stern (1994) transforms the
commercial drama-lecture dichotomy into three distinct communication
forms: classical drama, vignette drama, and lectures. Vignette dramas are
constructed as a series of stories in which unrelated characters replicate
similar actions across a variety of spatial settings, without necessarily
showing change; the chronology has neither beginning, middle, or end,
nor any fixed order, with no loss in meaning because each vignette stands
alone (Stern, 1994, p. 609).
This article does not include examining the occurrence of vignette
dramas in consumer storytelling. The presence of all three forms of
communications may occur in varying degrees in the communications
consumers provide to themselves and others; Stern’s proposals are worth
examining empirically in future research.
To probe the core and supporting propositions of the theory, the present
article includes an examination of case study data. To control against
social desirability bias (Fisher, 1993) and self-generated validity and other
effects of measurement on belief, attitude, and behavior (Feldman & Lynch,
1988), the case study research includes searching for unsolicited Weblog
consumer self-reports of stories reflecting brands causing inciting
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incidents (cf., Holt’s 2002 report on why brands cause trouble) or brands
enabling consumers to enact myths (i.e., iconic brands). The findings
include strong evidence to support the theory; the findings and the theory
are useful for increasing an understanding of how consumers cope and
solve dilemmas found in the contexts of everyday and unique situations
that they encounter. Two marketing strategy implications that follow
naturally from this research include (1) creating new dramas that build
on real-life self-reports of lived experiences with brand icons and (2)
practicing-to-improve brand icon stories to aid consumers in uncon-
sciously and consciously enacting archetypes via experiences with brands.
CONSUMER STORYTELLING THEORY AND RESEARCH
PROPOSITIONS
Several propositions follow from the discussion of consumer storytelling
theory that extends Escalas’ (2004) general hypothesis that the structure
of word-of-mouth communication is usually organized as a story. These
additional propositions include the following components of consumer
storytelling theory.
P1: Narrative storytelling on purchasing/consumption requires a
protagonist consumer to experience an “inciting incident” (McKee, 2003)
that focuses her attention and results in action in response to this incident.
P2: Consumer storytelling theory extends beyond highly risky
consumption acts to the more mundane and improvisational presenta-
tions-of-self (to oneself and others) in everyday life. P3: Consumption
stories protagonists tell about themselves consciously and/or unconsciously
often match the plot lines scripted by brand controllers (e.g., Nike’s myth
of individual achievement through perseverance) or by deep-seated, “hard-
wired” (see Hirschman, 2000b; Rapaille, 2005) cultural archetypal myths.
P4: Consumers’ presentations-of-self storytelling presents a protagonist
engaging in actions to achieve goals. P5: These stories inform the listener
or reader about conscious and/or unconscious thoughts of the protagonist
and other actors. P6: These stories frequently describe epiphanic personal
realizations and changes that occur in the life of the protagonist.
P7: The story informs how events involving the protagonist take place.
P8: The stories frequently include a second inciting event (a crisis or
turning point) involving the protagonist, along with a beginning inciting
incident and a resolution. P9:The stories present the protagonist in clear-
cut situations. P10:The storytellers frequently provide a lesson learned—
a gloss/gist of wisdom—in a sense-making summary comment in the
closing or opening emic interpretation to the story.
Figure 1 shows some of these 10 propositions visually. Figure 1 is the
attempt to depict elements in a story on two graphical dimensions: past,
present, and future on the x-axis; emotional intensity (see Delgadillo &
Escalas, 2004) on the y-axis. Figure 1 includes an ascending and descending
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Acts Through Time (Seconds, Minutes, Hours, Days, Weeks, Months, Decades)
Prequel Act 1 (Balance) Act 2 (Imbalance) Act 3 (Resolution) Act 4 (Sense Making
and Storytelling)
Evaluative
slope
A1
A2
V3 V4
A4
S3
S4
A1
A2
V1
V2
A3
S1
S2
A2
A1
A5 A6
A7
S6
S7
S8
A2
A5
A1
S9
A1
V5
V6
V7 V8
S1
0
V9
Emotion
Dictionary. Ai actor; Vi event/action; Si scene; interaction/dialogue. Note: Only A1, the protagonist, appears in all acts.
In Act 4, the protagonist makes sense of the action when telling the story to herself and/or others about the events occurring
beforehand (prequel), the action leadin
g
up (Act 1) to the incitin
g
incident (Act 2), and how the stor
y
turns out (resolution, Act 3).
Figure 1. Consumer storytelling theory of structure and emotional slope.
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evaluative slope with several minor and one or more major emotional
peaks. Figure 1 configures time in narrative format as episodes (i.e., scenes
within acts in a drama); each act has a beginning, middle, and
end, because the storyteller thinks of acts occurring in distinct units of
time even though in reality time is an undifferentiated continuous flow
(Bruner, 1990; Escalas, 1998). A scene is equivalent to a situation; a sit-
uation represents the conjunction of a physical place, specific time, physical
objectives (props) and atmospherics, and specific people (cf. Bearden &
Woodside, 1976; Belk, 1975); any change in any one of these four factors
represents a scene change within an act. Interactions (e.g., talking, yelling)
and actions and events (e.g., touching, moving, eating, walking) occur
within scenes.
Figure 1 shows several increasing emotional peaks. The peaks repre-
sent conscious and/or unconscious minor/major inciting incidents
(e.g., the protagonist recognizing the possibility of going on a trip to Paris;
deciding on going and making specific plans for the trip; arriving in
Paris; seeing the lights of Paris at night at the Eiffel Tower). The expec-
tation is that consumer storytelling reports include at least four emo-
tional peaks varying in height: (1) I Act 1, the protagonist has some
suspicion or fully conscious sense of awareness by the protagonist of
the possibility of engaging in a “dramatic turn of events;” (2) in Act 2, the
protagonist engages in actions resulting in recognizing that an inciting
incident has occurred (e.g., seeing paintings in museums in Paris that the
protagonist has seen in textbooks as a child); (3) in Act 3, the protagonist
experiences a sense of resolution or fulfillment (e.g., she receives travelers’
checks from American Express office in Paris replacing the checks stolen
along with her pocketbook); (4) in Act 4, telling the tale each time evokes
a small emotional peak again and again, and the protagonist engages
in reflection—self-interaction. Reflection is one dimension of sense making
(Weick, 1995); Act 4 concludes the story often with a summary judgment
with an implicit or explicit statement of a lesson learned (P10).
Figure 1 shows one person, the protagonist, in all acts but not all
scenes in the story. Certainly, the protagonist is not always present in
all acts that she may report in telling the story. The intention is for
Figure 1 to represent a rough template only of the elements, flow, and
content of stories that a protagonist may include in her storytelling. Our
expectation is that most consumer storytelling occurs in narrated story
form; the protagonist writes or speaks in past tense in a looking-back
reporting mode in describing and interpreting scenes, acts, and
outcomes—rather than reporting pure dramas. In pure dramas, the
actions and the characters simply unfold in the storytelling, and the expec-
tation is that the readers, viewers, or listeners provide their own
interpretations (Boller, 1990; Booth, 1961; Iser, 1976; Martin, 1986).
The distinction between overt narration and pure drama matters. Here
is why:
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Overt narration tends to distance an audience from the characters. Specif-
ically, narration prompts an audience to view the depicted experiences as
“someone else’s.” In contrast, dramatized stories tend to prompt an
audience to view the depicted experiences as “their own.” Dramatic forms
invite audience participation in the portrayed experiences. Through their
imaginary apprehension of the characters’ mental states and motives,
audience members share in the enactment of the story actions. (Boller,
1990, p. 622)
Figures 2 and 3 further extend and deepen understanding of relevant
central concepts in drama theory applied to marketing and consumer
psychology. Figure 2 expands Moiso and Arnould’s (2005) dramaturgical
framework in marketing. Building from Goffman’s (1959) drama contri-
butions concerning presentation of self in everyday life and the work of
Grove and Fisk (1992), Moisio and Arnould (2005) distinguish among
drama structure, drama interaction, and drama content. Drama struc-
ture refers to the set of theatrical components: setting, actors/audience,
and performance, or the formal components of drama (Grove & Fisk,
1992). Drama interaction is the level of consumer involvement or activ-
ities, ranging from active to passive, which can shape, redirect, and struc-
ture the unfolding of the drama performance. Drama content refers to the
cultural resources that “infuse . . . activity with signs which dramati-
cally highlight and portray confirmatory facts that might otherwise
remain unapparent or obscure” (Goffman, 1959, p. 30).
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Observable
Unobservable
Observable
drama content:
observable cultural resources
that infuse activity with signs that
dramatically highlight and
portray confirmatory facts
that might otherwise
remain obscure
Observable
drama structure:
the set of theatrical components—
setting, actors/audience, and
performance (set of activities
that occurs before an audience) Observable
drama interaction:
participants’ conversations and actions
shaping, directing, structuring the
performance
Unobservable
drama content:
unobservable archetype
resources interpreted partly
consciously, but mostly
unconsciously; during the drama,
participants’ struggles to make
sense of archetype
relevancy
Unobservable
drama structure:
how the participants and audience
interpret the emotional meaning,
intensity, and slope via
observing the theatrical
components during and
after the performance
Unobservable
drama interaction:
the meanings behind/
underneath what the
participants say and do;
what the audience
hears/interprets the
participants say and do
Figure 2. Extending the dramaturgical framework in marketing and consumer
psychology.
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Story Enactment (t2), Reporting and Interpreted (t3)
Archetype story performed by consumer via brand use.
Emic sense making by consumer and marketer;
etic sense making by researcher. Which archetype is enacted?
How was enactment accomplished? What complementary archetypes
also are enacted in the realized story?
12
3
4
56
8A
8C
8B
Key: 8A, B, and C = indicators of a specific archetype
enactment
Consumer (t4)
Consumer (t1)
Ecological development stage
unconscious desire to enact
archetype 7
Brand
Marketer
unconscious/
conscious
story
portrayal
Archetype
Core archetype
myth affecting
consumer
and brand enactment,
mostly unconsciously
Proper pleasure
(Aristotle, 294 BC)
Figure 3. Brand enabling archetype enactment by consumer.
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Figure 2 extends the above descriptions of drama structure, drama
interaction, and drama content in several ways. First, Figure 2 includes
revisions of the descriptions of each concept; for example, drama
interactions explicitly include conversations and actions in Figure 2.
Such activity may include conversations in the drama between one or
more human participants as well as between a consumer and one or more
brands. A brand may express a viewpoint explicitly, for example, the
“I AM A MAN” message expressed in Burger King’s Double Whopper
2006 TV commercials. Second, Figure 2 suggests a causal pattern from
drama content directly influencing drama interaction and indirectly
influencing drama structure. However, certainly drama structure and
interaction affect drama content in some situations—drama content is
contingent on relevant drama structure, permitting such content to be
activated. Third, the below-the-dotted-line dramaturgical framework in
Figure 2 serves to deepen sense making of each of the three concepts.The
participants (actors) in the drama as well the audience (again, the actors
are also the audience members to their own performances, as well as
consumer psychologists and marketers) are both consciously and uncon-
sciously interpreting drama content, structure, and interactions. A scene
comes readily to mind here from Moonstruck, where Cher, playing a widow,
is explaining to Nicholas Cage why he lost his hand. The dialogue goes
something like this: Cher, conversing in character, tells the brother of
her fiancé, “I know the real reason that you lost your hand [to an electric
bread cutter]—because you are a wolf trapped in a loveless engagement
and you cut off your own hand to escape from the marriage.” Cage, in
character, responds to hearing this revelation/interpretation by violently
swiping food, plates, glasses, and a bottle of liquor off his kitchen table,
lifting Cher up into his arms, and announcing, “Son of a bitch!” The
profanity is not directed at Cher’s character, but is an assessment of his
own feeble prior attempts to make sense of how he came to lose his hand.
Note here that several different actor/audience members are interpret-
ing the action and the meaning of the action, including the two princi-
pal actors, the three authors of this article, and you—the reader. The
deeper archetypal interpretation revision by Cage’s character shifts
the blame of the loss of his hand from his brother as “the little trickster”
to himself as “the anti hero.” (For a discussion of these two archetypes,
see Wertime, 2002).The little trickster frequently causes embarrassment
and loss of attention—what Cage’s character claims his brother did to
him when he lost his hand. The wolf in fairy tales and other myths
represents the human potential for destruction and evil—the archetypal
profile of the anti hero. (For elaborations of archetypes applicable
to marketing and consumer psychology, see Mark & Pearson, 2001;
Wertime, 2002).
Figure 3 emphasizes the centrality of archetypes for deepening sense
making of classical dramas applied to marketing and consumer
psychology. Arrow 1 in Figure 3 represents the proposal that mostly
unconscious desire for archetype fulfillment drives consumers to act.
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Arrow 2 proposes that the classical drama productions by marketers
reflect one or a few archetypes. An example of a marketer’s application
of the ultimate strength archetype is the drama Timex watches manifests
when the watch survives torture tests: “It takes a licking and still
keeps ticking,” thereby confirming the gist of this archetype. When an
obstacle is there, it must be overcome; strength must be proven in
use. Wertime (2002) provides details of marketing applications for 12
archetypes. Arrow 3 in Figure 3 reflects the proposal that the archetype
a marketer’s story produces in a brand drama should match with the
intended customer’s archetypal, mostly or entirely unconscious yearnings.
Table 1 provides gists of stories for twelve archetypes that Wertime (2002)
describes, along with examples of brands explicitly or implicitly inform-
ing consumers that experiencing these brands demonstrates fulfilling
one or more of these archetypes.
In Figure 3, arrows 4, 5, and 6 illustrate that the consumers’ enactment
of a story and their retrospective storytelling reflects one or more arche-
types; the same proposal applies to brand storytelling by the marketer.
Consumer emic reports of own-lived stories are unlikely to describe
archetypal origins of stories because few consumers have training in
sense making using archetype theory. Etic interpreting by researchers
with such training is usually necessary to achieve such insights. In the
case study that this article later describes, the fairy godmother
(i.e., mother-of-goodness archetype) illustrates this point—the retro-
spective report by two American travelers on their trip to Paris includes
an older cousin paying all trip expenses of the younger cousin and arrang-
ing events leading to transformational experiences for the younger cousin.
Considering arrow 5 in Figure 3, Mark & Pearson (2001) provide an etic
interpretation of the innocent archetype (i.e., natural living, childlike sim-
plicity, and experiencing paradise) of Volkswagen’s new Beetle car design.
But looking at the design through the archetypal lens, we see that the
“face” of the new Beetle is virtually identical to the face of an infant—
with big eyes and a high, smooth forehead. Research has shown that
throughout the animal and human kingdom, those same baby-faced char-
acteristics, the characteristics of the Innocent,signal that there is no threat
and that the creature is in need of care. They are the facial characteris-
tics of the koala bear, the teddy bear, Mickey Mouse,and, most recently, the
little television creatures from the United Kingdom called the Teletubbies.
They are faces that win hearts the world over. (Mark & Pearson, 2001)
A suggestion for future research is worth noting here. The reporting
of such looking through the archetypal lens by Mark and Pearson (2001),
Rapaille (2004), and Wertime (2002)—and Holt (2004) and Holt
and Thompson (2004) even though this work does not refer directly
to archetypes—would be enriched by further interviews with con-
sumers and marketers during which the consumer researcher describes
the archetypal interpretations of the consumers’ earlier collected stories
back to the consumers. The question here is how do consumers (emic)
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Table 1. Archetypes, Story Gists, and Brand Examples.
Story gist Brand examples
Source: Developed in part from several chapters in Wertime (2002).
Ultimate Strength
The Siren
The Hero
The Antihero
The Creator
The Change Master
The Powerbroker
The Wise Old Man
The Loyalist
The Mother of Goodness
The Little Trickster
The Enigma
When an obstacle is there, it must be overcome;
strength must be proven in use.
Power of attraction, linked with the possibility of
destruction.
Fortitude, courage, and victory; a journey and
transformation.
Universal message of destruction and attraction of
evil; the bad dude.
Creative inspiration and the potency of imagination;
originality; authentic.
Transformation, self-improvement, and self-mastery.
Authority, influence and domination—the world’s
leading . ...;the best . . . ; number one.
Experience, advice and heritage; staying the test
of time.
Trust, loyalty, and reassurance.
Purity, nourishment, and motherly warmth.
Humor, nonconformity, and the element of surprise.
Mystery, suspense, and uncertainty.
Timex—“It takes a licking and keeps ticking.”
Allure by Chanel; Envy by Gucci
Michael Jordan and Nike shoes; Joe DiMaggio and
Mr. Coffee; Power Puff Girls; Forrest
Heavy metal icons; Howard Stern; Jerry Springer;
Oakland Raiders; Che Guevara; Harley
Coca Cola—the real thing; Walt Disney; Kleenex
Curves—fitness studios for women; Gillette’s Mach 2
Razor; Porsche 911
CNN; E.F. Hutton; Bill Gates; Microsoft
Levi’s; Obi-Wan Kenobi
Coca Cola and “Mean” Joe Green with boy of 12 TV
commercial; I Love Lucy;Friends TV
Just Juice; Ivory Soap; Tropicana orange juice;
Aunt Jemima; fairy godmother; Witch of the East;
Snow White
Dennis the Menace; Bart Simpson; Pee-Wee’s Big
Adventure;SpongeBob SquarePants
Zorro; Abercrombie and Fitch; Star Trek
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interpret the researcher’s (etic) archetypal interpretations? Of course,
such etic-enhancing-emic-reinterpreting research would follow with
another round of etic (i.e., researcher) interpretation of the consumers’
reinterpretations of the archetype reports. Such research extends
Hirschman’s (1986) call for asking other researchers to provide “mem-
ber checks” of facts and interpretations collected in case studies by a
field-investigating researcher. Without referring to the literature on
archetypes, Cox (1967) provides an early example of multiple rounds of
emic-etic-emic-etic interpretive case study research that reflects this
call for deepening sense making of archetype interpretations. Let con-
sumer researchers not be so arrogant and vain as to believe that their
interpretations of consumer storytelling reports are necessarily accurate,
complete, or the only ones applicable to interpreting the relevance of
specific archetypes (cf. Woodside, 2006).
Arrow 7 in Figure 3 emphasizes that “good” (see McKee, 2003),
storytelling results in “proper pleasure” (Aristotle, see Hiltunen, 2002). Liv-
ing out a good story and retelling such a story offers a captivating emo-
tional experience, leading to fulfilling one or more archetype outcomes
(arrows 8A, B, and C in Figure 3). Such a theory increases understand-
ing of why Weblogs report seemingly mundane experiences that include
using product and service brands. The case studies that follow illustrate
this proposition.
METHOD
Based on the scarcity of research on consumer self-storytelling (relative
to consumer attitude research), our intention is that the propositions
are conjectures for developing a nascent stream of research work. Future
work should adopt the use of a competing multiple hypotheses probing
approach, for example, examining competing lecture versus drama
theories of communications by consumers via building and testing alter-
native sets of propositions (see Campbell,1975; Wilson & Wilson, 1988;
Wilson & Woodside, 1999). This report probes two sets of consumer
storytelling versus advertising lecturing propositions. Figure 4a is a
conversion of the set of consumer storytelling propositions into a degrees-
of-freedom instrument for assessing how well a specific WOM/blog
communication matches with the storytelling paradigm. Figure 4b is a
conversion of advertising lecturing propositions. (See Wells, 1989, for an
elaboration of these propositions.)
Figure 4c illustrates the possibilities of advertising representing different
combinations of low/moderate/high levels of drama and lecture formats.
Figure 4c reflects the proposition that, although all combination levels do
occur in advertising, most advertising executions follow the lecture format;
marketers seek to convince consumers using attribute-benefit-satisfaction
arguments for buying their brands. Thus, Figure 4c depicts the most
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Title of Blog Entry and Reference:
____________________________________________________________________________________________________
For each proposition below, please circle one response regarding whether the
proposition matches the storytelling format:
N = No
No
? = Not sure
?
Y = Yes
Yes
1. Protagonist experiences an inciting incident?
If yes, describe the inciting incident: _______________________________________________
N
2. Mundane presentation of self in everyday life of a protagonist in the story?
Evidence: ____________________________________________________________________
N
N3. Unconscious and/or conscious attempt in blog to match a myth identified for brand?
Evidence: ____________________________________________________________________
4. Protagonist found in blog engages in actions to achieve goals?
Evidence: _____________________________________________________________________
N
5. The blog presents a story that informs about conscious and/or
unconscious thoughts of the protagonist and other actors?
Evidence: _____________________________________________________________________
N
6. The blog presents a story about how personal evolution or change in
the life of the protagonist occurs?
Evidence: ____________________________________________________________________
N
7. The blog describes a world or personal block that does/may
prevent goal attainment?
Evidence: ____________________________________________________________________
N
8. The blog has a beginning, middle, and end?
Evidence: ____________________________________________________________________
N
9. The blog presents a protagonist in clear-cut situations?
Evidence: ____________________________________________________________________
N
10. The blog has a protagonist who offers a lesson learned?
Evidence: ____________________________________________________________________
N
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Figure 4a. Storytelling degrees-of-freedom instrument.
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Title of Blog Entry and Reference: _________________________________________________________________________________________
For each proposition below, please circle one response regarding whether the
proposition matches the lecture format:
N = No
No
? = Not sure
?
Y = Yes
Yes
1. Does the communication speak directly to third-party (e.g., reader) audience?
Evidence: ____________________________________________________________________________
2. Communication presents specific feature details of a product/service?
Evidence: ____________________________________________________________________________
3. Use of persuasion tools (e.g., selling words, “you should”, “limited time offer”)?
Evidence: ____________________________________________________________________________
4. Is a protagonist absent from the communication (e.g., no names given)?
Evidence: ____________________________________________________________________________
5. Does the communication present a source or spokesperson as an expert?
(highly credible, e.g., Michael Jordan as a spokesperson for Nike brand)?
Evidence: It quotes A.C. Nielsen and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
6. Is a one or two-sided argument logic found in the communication?
Evidence: ____________________________________________________________________________
7. Does the communication include one or more conclusions?
Evidence: ____________________________________________________________________________
8. Does the communication include one or more recommendations for
the viewer/reader to follow?
Evidence: ____________________________________________________________________________
9. Does the communication specifically mention benefits from features
or from using the product/service?
Evidence: ____________________________________________________________________________
10. Does the communication include normative statements that signal what
conclusion is most appropriate and/or what actions are best?
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Evidence: ____________________________________________________________________________
Figure 4b. Lecture degrees-of-freedom instrument.
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10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
High
Lecture
Low drama/
High lecture
Example:
“Hard sell” car dealer TV
Commercials run in local markets
High drama/
Low lecture
High drama/
High lecture
Note: Size of oval by grid location reflects hypothesis concerning relative frequency of advertising drama-lecture combination; for
example, most radio commercials reflect high-lecture and low-drama structure (quadrant 3).
Quadrant 1: High drama, low lecture Quadrant 2: High drama, high lecture
Quadrant 3: High lecture, low drama Quadrant 4: Low drama, low lecture
Example:
Apple’s famous
“Big Brother” screen
destruction TV Super Bowl
commercial
Example: Brand-consumer
as heroes advertising; often
incorporates consumer
experiences into scenes
in commercials along
with lots of reason-why
copy; see herohonda.com
Example:
Australian 2006 print
and
TV tourism vignette
commercials with the
tagline, “So where the
bloody hell are you?”
Vignette television
advertising drama
(see Stern 1994)
Low drama/
Low lecture
Examples: Showing water
flowing over rocks in car
TV commercial; empty Corona
beer bottle rolling on table top at
beach; no voice-over message
High
Drama
Figure 4c. Drama/lecture advertising grid.
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frequently occurring advertising structure, using the large oval in qua-
drant 3. Stern’s (1994) description of vignette advertising represents a
combination of low-lecture and moderate-drama advertising (ads including
several brief incomplete stories)—appearing high in quadrant 4.
Low-drama in combination with low-lecture format advertising (bottom
right of quadrant 4) likely rarely occurs; such ads represent attempts
to achieve high consumer message involvement or brand-acceptance-
without-ad involvement via very unique, low-reactance advertising
executions. One example of a quadrant 4 TV commercial that comes
to mind is a Corona ad showing an empty bottle of its beer rolling sideways
on a table with other free-standing empty Corona beer bottles in front
of a beach—a 30-second TV commercial that includes sounds of seagulls.
Some consumers have found this low-drama and low-lecture Corona
campaign to be so appealing that dozens of amateur interpretive
productions of the campaign are available for watching on Youtube.com.
Brand Web sites often represent information locations high in drama
and lecture formats—quadrant 2 in Figure 4c. The herohonda.com Web
site showing motorcycles fit for rebels in their twenties is one example
of such a high-drama and high-lecture communication execution. The
herohonda.com sites includes lots of reason-for-buying copy along with
lots of details for “great escape” motorcycle trips, for example, several
days on a road trip from Manali to Leh, the capital city of Ladakh, located
in the Himalayas. Planning and going on such a road trip to Leh—or
just buying the motorcycle and dreaming of such a road trip—likely
unconsciously enables both the change master and the creator arche-
types in the minds of the planner/dreamer. The capability of designing
brand Web sites high in both drama and lecture formats is a distinctive
strength of Internet brand marketing.
For this article, the method used for collecting consumer-generated com-
munications includes doing Google searches for brands for which some
consumers experience high emotion during purchase or use—brands or
experiences for which archetypal myths are readily identifiable: Paris and
travel, Versace and buying and wearing a coat, and Tommy Hilfiger
and wearing jeans. Paris, as personified in Greek mythology, is known for
extreme beauty and romance. Versace is the luxury brand of clothing
and other products and services (e.g., hotels) that often uses ads show-
ing a “superhero corporate titan closing deals with her mental acumen
and intoxicating men with her overt eroticism,” for instance, Madonna
wearing brightly colored, hypersexy daywear while playing corporate
executive (Givhan, 2005).“Wearing Hilfiger represents youthful success
and the state of ‘cool’ being” (Rsingh.net, 2005).
The Google searches for consumer communications included entering
the brand name and blog for each of the three brands. For each brand, the
first entry returned from the search that was found not to include
advertisements or obvious brand sponsorship was selected for analysis.
Certainly this search method for brands and blogs conjunctions is not an
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attempt to achieve representative sampling; the approach is an example of
theoretical sampling to learn whether at least some written communications
among some consumers in a naturally occurring environment matches with
one model of consumer storytelling theory. Future research is necessary to
examine how representative storytelling relating to products and brands
is in consumer blogs.
Appendices 1–3 include abstracts of the first blog communications
passing the selection screen described above for the three brands. The
complete communications and the blog writers’ Web sites are avail-
able for scholarly research from the authors, but the findings exclude
mention of Web site names because of the personal information in the
stories.
Because the study focuses on interpreting consumer storytelling, the
sampling procedure includes seeking to find reports in quadrant 1, high
drama and low lecture. This study does not include the attempt to estimate
the shares of drama and lecture formats; the aim is to examine whether
consumer blogs do exist that fit into the storytelling paradigm and
indicate consumer experiences with brands enabling archetype outcomes.
Consequently, the blogs this article interprets score very low on the lecture
degrees-of-freedom instrument and very high on the drama degrees-of-
freedom instrument. Additional research is necessary to provide informa-
tion on the relative use by consumers of drama and lecture formats in the
blogs when they mention experiences with products and brands.
Analyzing the Stories
The analyses of the stories include the following steps: (1) building
events and emic narrative interpretation maps within applications of
Woodside & Chebat’s (2001) approach for updating Heider’s balance theory
(see Figures 5–7); (2) applying the consumer storytelling degrees-of-freedom
instruments (see Figure 4a) to each blog communication; (3) applying the
Leximancer computer software program (see Smith, 2000) and comparing
the results with the findings from the other two analyses.
Leximancer, a data mining tool useful for extracting the main con-
cepts contained within electronic documents, generates an automated
analysis. The evidence for a concept will be found in the texts under con-
sideration. These concepts are displayed on an interactive map that pro-
vides a single holistic view of the information as well as allowing one to
automatically search for instances of the text that contain the given con-
cepts. For the analyses in this article, replacements are first made of “I”
in the communications, with “emic” and “etic” replacing the use of “me”
in the story to pick up these concepts (cf. Martin, 2005). This was done
because Leximancer output does not report personal pronouns as con-
cepts, and the conclusion was drawn that the output should include actors
as important concepts.
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1. Gayle
3. Paris
2. Paige
+
+
4 “The occasion
was my cousin
Paige’s 16th.”
5. “I am a
Canadian and get
by in French.”
7. “We had a full view of the Eiffel from
our charming little terrace. ....We were
within walking distance to two metro stops
(Pont d’Alma or Ecole Militaire).”
8. “We were walkable to many good
bistros, cafes and bakeries and only a
few blocks from the wonderful market
street Rue Cler.”
9. “I bought a Paris Pratique pocket-sized book at a
Metro station. This handy guide has detailed maps
of each arrondisement, as well as the metro lines,
the bus lines, the RER and the SCNF (trains). I’ll
never be without this again.”
10.“Six months before our trip, I gave
Paige a couple of good guide books on
Paris and suggested she let me know
what her interests were since after all,
this was to be her trip.”
11. Sites
• The Marais
• Notre Dame
• L’Arc de Triomphe—248 steps up and 248 steps
down...
• Champs Elysée
• Jacquemart Museum
• Louvre Lite
• Musée D’Orsay
• Les Invalides, Napoleon’s Tomb and the
Napoleon Museum
• Sacre Coeur
• Monmartre
• Rodin Museum
• Pompidou Museum
• Train to Vernon, bike to Giverny with Fat Tire
Bike Tours
• http://www.fattirebiketoursparis.com/
• Eiffel Tower
12. Unforgettable Memories
“This trip had so many memories, but here are a few choice
highlights. On our very first night, knowing that the
Eiffel Tower light show started at 10:00 p.m.... she [Paige]
dropped her camera…down 6 flights…we were
stunned.” (Spanish Family below standing below [with pieces
of the camera])
15. “Michael Osman is an American artist
living in Paris.”
“He supplements his income by being a
tour guide. I found out about him on
Fodors.”
“So I engaged Michael for two days.”
16. “On our trip to Giverny, we met a young
woman from Brisbane, Australia who was
traveling on her own and we invited her to join
us. Three of us enjoyed delicious and
innovative soufflés, while Paige had the rack
of lamb. We shared two dessert soufflés, one
chocolate and the other cherry/almond. Yum.”
17. “I wanted Paige to get a feel
for shopping experiences that
she would not have at home (aka
the ubiquitous mall).”
18.“We went on Fat
Tire’s day trip to
Monet’s gardens and
house in Giverny, about
an hour outside Paris.”
13.“The father stretched out his cupped hands
which held all of the pieces they were able to
recover, including the memory stick and he
very solemnly said, “El muerto... .”
14. “They had decided to come to Paris
to find the Harley Davidson store so
they could buy Harley Paris t-shirts.”
+
++
+
19.....“I know Paige will
treasure the memory of
this girl’s trip for many
years to come.”
6. “All I can say is WOW! We rented a 2
bedroom, 1 -bath apartment (two
showers), ‘Merlot’ from ParisPerfect
http://www.parisperfect.com/ and boy was
it ever perfect!”
Figure 5. Elaboration of trip to Paris blog communication.
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1. Scott
2. Aching back
3. Wheeled garment bag for
Christmas trip home
4. Store 5. Attractive sales
women
6. Pants unzipped
7. “Not only that, but I happened to be wearing a
pair of loose-fitting jeans that day, purchased in a
foolish attempt to look with it. (Damn you and your
marketing, Tommy Hilfiger!) These pants were
almost loose enough to fall off when they were
fastened, and in their current state I feared that they
would slip to the ground at the slightest
encouragement.”
8. “There’s nothing more dreadful than
being embarrassed in front of a person
you find attractive, and this seemed like
the inevitable outcome of my current
situation.”
9. “Part of the problem was that
Valentine, which I later learned
was her name, was an excellent
saleswoman. I have never met
anyone so knowledgeable about
luggage.”
10.“I adopted a two-pronged
strategy. The first phase, the
Hike... The second phase of
my plan, the Cover.”
11. “Valentine: Zis bag has
many expandable pockets.
Me: Ah. (Left-hand Hike.
Right-hand Cover.)
Valentine: Zis makes it very
useful for short trips or long
trips.
Me: I see. (Right-hand Hike.)”
13. “You know, I think I’m going
go ahead and get the Travelpro.”
Her face lit up like a child’s on
Christmas morning.
14. “It was with horror that I realized my
next predicament: getting to the counter.
My pants were looser than ever, and the
motion of walking would surely just
speed their escape.”
15. “I reached the car (out of breath!)... slid
the jeans up to my waist, zipped them up, and
fastened the button. Rapture! I was never so glad
to be wearing pants in all my life. Happiness
flooded over me. I wanted to sing a song. I
wanted to hug someone. I wanted to apologize
to Tommy Hilfiger and take back the nasty
things I’d said about his questionable parentage.
‘I was emotional! No hard feelings?’”
12. “I did not have $700 to spend on
Italian luggage, so my choice was
pretty clear after about five
minutes... choose the Travelpro....
because I had the Financial Acumen to
recognize that it was a great buy.”
16. “Most of all, I wanted to go
back inside and talk to
Valentine. I wanted to tell her
about the whole silly situation
but life, as I well know, is not
the movies, and I was not about
to risk humiliation twice in one
evening—my hips snugly
ensconced in denim.”
Figure 6. Elaboration of unzipped Tommy Hilfiger jean wearer communication.
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FINDINGS
The findings include a balance/imbalance mapping and flow diagram of
relationships for each blog communication, a consumer storytelling
degrees-of-freedom analyses, and a Leximancer output.
Gayle Takes Cousin Paige to Paris
The first story (Figure 5 and Appendix 1) reports on a trip to Paris by a
Canadian, Gayle, and her cousin, Paige. Early concepts in the report
include mention of three principals within a clearly storytelling
communication: Gayle, Paris, and Paige. The relationships among these
three principals are all positive and in balance. Gayle reports previous
trips to Paris, and this particular trip represents a coming-of-age
transformation for Paige, with the implication that Gayle and Paige’s
mother are paying for the Paris experience of Paige changing from child
to woman. Although this is not consciously stated, Gayle’s actions and her
self-interpretations reflect a fairy godmother myth enactment.
Gayle’s storytelling includes the possibility of romance, with Gayle
providing a likely Prince Charming for Paige.
But my cousin is a budding artist and I thought it might be enjoyable
for her to experience some of Paris’ best art offerings through the eyes
of another artist. So I engaged Michael for two days. His warmth, charm,
wit and quirkiness were infectious and by the end of two days we cried
when we said goodbye and feel like he’s part of our family. He brought
insight and intelligence, historical perspective and tailored the itinerary
to Paige’s interests. Paige will always remember him fondly . . . after
all . . . he taught her the meaning of allegory. (Appendix 1)
Gayle does insure that Paige experiences iconic sites and scenes—
actions uniquely available in Paris: for example, museums, the Eiffel
Tower, and the Metro. Gayle offers a chronological report with an increas-
ing emotional slope that includes both Parisian sites and the breakage
of an expensive camera as high points. The degrees-of-freedom (DOF)
analysis for the trip to Paris case study includes supporting evidence con-
firming each of the 10 degrees-of-freedom issues, leading to the conclu-
sion that Gayle’s communication is a narrative story. (DOF case outputs
are available from any of the three authors.)
Examining the Leximancer output for Gayle’s story, the rather prim-
itive stage of the output from the software program is the first conclu-
sion that might come. As the description mentions for Leximancer, this
structured analysis complements rather than substitutes for other inter-
pretation methods (e.g., balance and flow diagramming and applying a
storytelling degrees-of-freedom instrument). (Leximancer diagrams
for the cased studies are available from any of the authors) The close
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association of Paige and Gaile (emic “I”) is the main observable finding
from the Leximancer output for this story.
Note in the closing lines of the story that Gale connects the concepts
of Paige, treasure, and memory for their trip to Paris. The metaphor of
their trip experiences, representing acquisition of a forevermore treasure,
expresses achieving an important goal—one of the elements in good
storytelling.
Scott Wears Tommy Hilfiger Jeans Unzipped While Shopping
for a Wheeled Garment Bag
The start of Figure 6 includes two negative associations in a balanced
three-way relationship that includes Scott (clearly the protagonist in this
report), an aching back, and a wheeled garment bag. The positive rela-
tionship between Scott and the bag creates balance that overcomes the
negative relationship between Scott and an aching back.
Scott’s first mention of Tommy Hilfiger jeans reflects one example of
“brands causing trouble” (Holt 2002).
Not only that, but I happened to be wearing a pair of loose-fitting jeans that
day, purchased in a foolish attempt to look with it. (Damn you and your
marketing,Tommy Hilfiger!) These pants were almost loose enough to fall
off when they were fastened, and in their current state I feared that they
would slip to the ground at the slightest encouragement. (Appendix 2)
This quote indicates Scott’s meta conscious (thinking about thinking)
awareness of his attempt to live the myth that he perceives Tommy
Hilfiger pitches—what Rsingh (2005) summarizes as the “state of cool
being.” Scott’s parenthetical editorial reflects a nascent view of Holt’s
treatise that some consumers become inflamed (in Heider’s change
paradigm) to unfreeze and refreeze in adopting an antibranding senti-
ment and lifestyle in rebellion to marketers, cultural authority.
Note in Figure 6 that two story streams occur in a parallel format:
Scott’s concern about his jeans being unzipped while talking with a sales
woman and his buying a wheeled garment bag. Box 15 includes some
indication of an emotional high from finally getting to zip up his jeans:
“Rapture!. . .Happiness flooded over me.” Box 15 also indicates Scott’s
return to a believer in the myth intended by the marketer for Tommy
Hilfiger: “I wanted to apologize to Tommy Hilfiger and take back the
nasty things I’d said about his questionable parentage.
The degrees-of-freedom analysis includes substantial evidence that
Scott’s report is narrative storytelling. The use of quotes by Scott in box
11 hints at his shifting to a pure drama form of turn-taking conversation
(see Schenkein, 1978) between Valentine (the sales woman) and himself.
The Leximancer output interprets a dominance of the wheeled bag over
the pants in Scott’s story. However, Scott as a self-concept “I” overlaps
more with the pants than the bag.
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Appendix 2 includes a unique post-story epilogue offering by Scott.
“EPILOGUE: It turned out that the garment bag was too small, so I
couldn’t even take it on my trip. I wanted to return it, but I couldn’t bring
myself to go back. The bag is still sitting in my closet. I haven’t worn
those jeans since that night, and I haven’t been back to the store.” The
ironies of neither using nor returning the bag or the jeans serves to illus-
trate Scott’s story as a satire of his life with brands and serves as a self-
exposé of a “secret affair” with Tommy Hilfiger, that is, a privately held
relationship considered risky if exposed to others (see Fournier, 1998).
Pollee Buys and Then Wears a Versace Coat sans Knickers
(i.e., No Underpants)
Appendix 3 is an abstract of the third blog communication. Figure 7 offers
balance/imbalance mapping results. The author of this communication,
Pollee (an alias), entitles the report, “Long coat, no knickers.” Given that
the substantial evidence found in the entry supports all 10 dimensions
of storytelling, the report reflects a narrative story.
Note in Pollee’s story that she also buys lingerie at Rigby and Pellar
(a retail store), and she decides to pull “into a garage to use the loo.” She
decides to surprise her “man of the moment” by removing her dress and
knickers in the loo, to wear only her coat and lingerie (likely a slip and
stockings) home to “my man.” She is stopped by two police officers after
the garage stop for using a cell phone while driving (illegal in Britain),
and the officers also ask why she is wearing a coat on such a warm
(August) evening. “Quick as a flash I told them I was going to a fancy dress
vicars and tarts party.” Such a party requires guests to arrive dressed as
a vicar or a prostitute and are an English tradition.
This story expresses characteristics of the Versace coat assisting in a
courtship relationship and participating directly in a secret affair
(see Fournier, 1998). Courtship refers to an interim relationship state,
possibly on the road to a committed partnership contract; the man of the
moment morphs into “my man” with no hindrances apparent to a possi-
ble committed relationship. Versace is a co-conspirator with Pollee in a
secret affair when she wears the coat without knickers—a highly emotive,
private bonding that leads to a risky exposure to police officers. Note
in the story’s ending that Pollee includes a happy face symbol ( :) ) in
suggesting her secret affair drama with Versace leads to a final emotional
high point; her man achieves an erection (“only the Nan bread went soft”),
and the happy face follows this development.
The opening relationship in Figure 7 includes a brief imbalanced rela-
tionship reference for Pollee, fur coats, and design shops. Pollee twice
refers to the point that she “wouldn’t wear fur.” But her addition, “I’m
inconsistent,” indicates an imbalanced state that is not resolved in the
next scenes and acts in the story.
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1. Pollee
2. Fur Coat
3. Designer Shop
13. “It didn’t take long to change into
the lingerie and on a whim I didn’t
redress but just put on my coat.”
14. “The local constabulary [two police
officers] wanted to discuss me using a mobile
phone while driving.”
15. “Versace did not let me down. The coat, all
encompassing, only using two of the buttons
provided kept my chastity covered. This coat has
quality and after several dry cleanings because of
the colour still looks as good as new!”
17. “Quick as a flash I told them I was going to a fancy
dress ‘vicars and tarts party’, “....” I pulled up my coat
to show the top of a leg and told them that was all they
were getting!”
18. “I arrived at my man’s
house, ‘Nice coat’ he said....”’
19. “I resorted to
standing in front of
the TV and slowly
unbuttoning my two
buttons.”
4. “I have discovered a
lovely second hand ladies
wear shop in Beachamp
Place near Harrods in
Knightsbridge which has
designer wear at vastly
reduced prices.”
5. “I bought a Valentino short leather skirt
(and the leather is baby soft, ok I know I
said I wouldn’t wear fur- so I’m
inconsistent! ) which would cost £600
new for £110 and it really as new— you
would never have guessed it’s second
hand.”
6. “I spoed [English for spied]
a beautiful cream coloured
cashmere coat. Versace no
less for 150 pounds....
No way would I be able to
afford one of these at the real
price of nearly £1,000.”
7. “The fit of the coat
was wonderful and I
felt like I was one of
those film stars
sweeping into the room
wearing the most
wonderful outfit.”
8. “Versace is available at so
many stores now, almost always
tied up by anti theft devices so
this was the first time I had ever
been able to try Versace on.”
9. “This coat was less than 6
months old and had been
sent in by a lady who gets
her clothes for nothing and
wears them once or twice
and then sends them in for
resale.”
10. “Having worn Versace I
would definitely look to buy
something else from their
‘stable’ as the finish on this
coat is the best. It has been
hand stitched and reeks of
quality.”
11. “Proud of my purchase and
having just been into Rigby and
Pellar for my six month refit of
lingerie I started my journey....”
12. “On speaking to the man of
the moment I found he was at
home.... We agreed I would get
a takeaway on the way back.”
20. “Would I buy
Versace again? Best
coat I ever bought!”
16. “The problem I had was that the evening was very
warm and they asked why I was wearing a coat when it
was so hot.”
Figure 7. Elaboration of Pollee buying and wearing a Versace coat.
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The output from the Leximancer analysis indicates that the concept
relating most closely to Pollee (emic) is price. Such a relationship might
be overlooked from studying the interpretive mapping and the results
from applying the consumer storytelling degrees-of-freedom instrument.
The second hand shop enabling Pollee to buy a Versace coat at a price
about 15 percent of the new coat retail price is a scene critical in devel-
oping the plotline of the story.
Pollee’s story includes several touch points matching the Versace myth
of enabling a woman to intoxicate men with her overt eroticism. Note
that Pollee’s attempting to kiss her man results in his shifting out of the
way to continue to watch football on the TV. Only by “slowly unbuttoning
my two buttons [of my Versace]” does she achieve the intoxicating affect—
the ultimate goal intended in the story.
DISCUSSION, LIMITATIONS, STRATEGY IMPLICATIONS,
AND FUTURE RESEARCH SUGGESTIONS
The findings support the view that at least some of the time individuals
write stories in naturally occurring blog communications that include
enactments of brands as archetypical icons. This conclusion complements
and extends the work of Holt (2003, 2004), Holt & Thompson (2004), and
related literature (e.g.,Adaval & Wyer, 1988; Arnould & Wallendorf, 1994;
Boller, 1990; Delgadillo & Escalas, 2004; Fournier, 1998; Hirschman,
1986; Padgett & Allen, 1997; Woodside & Chabet, 2001).
Several previous studies may introduce researcher/experimenter biases
(Fisher, 1993; Shimp, Hyatt, & Snyder, 1991) in informant reports; for
example, Delgadillo & Escalas’ (2004) procedure in their Study 1 reads
as follows: “Please tell us about a recent experience you’ve had with a
product or brand. . . .” The use of the word “tell” would likely suggest sto-
rytelling to some informants. Similarly, Holt and Thompson’s probing
follow-up questions in the face-to-face interviews with the two informants,
the focus of most their article, are likely to stimulate self-generated valid-
ity problems (see Feldman & Lynch, 1988). However, a content analysis
(Kassarjian, 1977) method avoids such issues. At the same time, the
analysis and findings provide confirmatory evidence supporting Holt’s
views of how and why brands become icons.
The use of content analysis is not devoid of its own validity and reli-
ability issues. The authors of this report worked together in studying
the three blogs in search of evidence in support of the consumer story-
telling theory. Future research should include the use of independent
member checks (Hirschman, 1986; Woodside, 2006) and comparisons of
multiple informants separately completing the consumer storytelling
and lecture degrees-of-freedom instruments.
The use of different data analysis tools for interpreting the blog com-
munications confirms the instructions Smith (2000) provides for using
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Leximancer: The appropriate view is that the software program comple-
ments independent interpretive assessment of text and oral communica-
tions rather than use as a stand-alone tool. Examining natural reports by
consumers-as-authors using Woodside and Chebat’s (2001) application of
Heider’s balance theory usefully complements Leximancer applications.
Marketing and advertising strategy implications include the following
points. First, crafting a story whereby the brand is a supporting actor
enabling the protagonist to achieve conscious and/or unconscious goals
likely helps build very favorable consumer-brand relationships (e.g., com-
mitted partnerships, best friendship, flings, or a secret affair). The story-
telling analysis in this article includes identifying self-oriented thinking
by the storyteller with near-conversational interactions with the primary
brands appearing in the stories (e.g., Gayle’s “I love Paris”; Scott’s, “Damn
you and your marketing, Tommy Hilfiger!” Pollee’s “Versace did not let
me down.”). Consequently, learning—not only thinking about—what
buyers and users say to the brand and what the brand says first and
back-and-forth in such conversations is likely to provide valuable clues for
designing highly effective marketing and advertising strategies.
Narrative reports and drama enactments are more likely to encourage
vicarious participation (see Boller, Babakus, & Olson, 1989) whereas lecture
forms of advertising tend to evoke argumentative forms of thinking.
Given that learning via storytelling is more memorable and retrievable
than lecture-based learning (Bruner, 1990; Schank, 1990), learning the
stories consumers tell in natural settings represents a useful grounding
for the art of crafting naturalistic stories or acceptable fantasies involv-
ing brand experiences—stories and fantasies that are acceptable and
enjoyable for the intended audience.
Consumer storytelling research provides evidence as to how and why
brands become archetypal icons in the informants’ own words. Informant-
reported enactments of the iconic roles played by brands likely include
symbols and expressions that match with imprinted unconsciously driv-
ing myths that affect the informants’ behavior. Such originating core
myths may be uncovered via word searches using blog search engines (e.g.,
Technorati, Feester, or Blogdigger). Consequently, becoming aware of the
consumer enactments of imprinted myths via brand icons provides direc-
tion for story genre and consumer-brand relationships (e.g., the fairy
godmother myth is one plotline worthy of producing alternative enact-
ments to encourage one segment of travelers to visit Paris; showing alter-
native scenes of a protagonist wearing a Versace coat sans knickers is a
story gist useful for rejuvenating romance in a tired relationship.).
A stream of studies supports the hypothesis that drama- versus lecture-
based advertising is more effective in situations reflecting everyday life
(Adaval & Wyer, 1998; Delgadillo & Escalas, 2004; Chebat, Vercollier, &
Gelinas-Chebat, 2003).The present article verifies that not only Goffman
(1959) and other behavioral scientists have a compelling need to interpret
the presentation-of-self in everyday life, but that some consumers are
driven to offer their own interpretations (i.e., narratives) of presentations
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(i.e., dramas) of their everyday lives—lives that enact myths via the use
of iconic brands.
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Correspondence regarding this article should be sent to: Arch G. Woodside, Boston
College, Carroll School of Management, Department of Marketing, 140
Commonwealth Avenue, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467; telephone/fax: 617-552-
3069/6677 (woodsiar@bc.edu). Suresh Sood, University of Technology, Sydney,
School of Marketing, Sydney, Australia (suresh.sood@uts.edu.au). Kenneth
E. Miller, University of Technology, School of Marketing, Sydney, Australia
(ken.miller@uts.edu.au).
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APPENDIX 1
“I Love Paris. . . Anytime at All. . .,” posted by Gayle on November 4, 2004
Here is my very lengthy and belated trip report from my June trip.
The occasion was my cousin Paige’s 16th birthday. Her mom and I are
like sisters and ever since Paige was born we planned to take her to Paris
to celebrate this milestone. I have been to Paris many times, but my
cousins have not. I am a Canadian and can get by in French. They are
Californians and though adept at Spanish, were intimidated to be in a
cultural environment they didn’t know. I am so proud of them both.They
rose to the occasion and we had a blast!
Getting There
I flew direct from Toronto on Air France and they flew LAX-JFK-CDG on
Air France, all without incident. I had arranged for a taxi service to meet
us at the airport (I arrived earlier than they did). As is usual in France
the meter had been started while they were waiting so the originally
quoted fare ended up being substantially higher. I had forgotten about
this possibility, which of course resulted in the fare adding up to
substantially more than we’d been quoted when I reserved via email.
The Apartment
All I can say is WOW! We rented a 2 bedroom, 112bath apartment (two
showers), “Merlot” from ParisPerfect http://www.parisperfect.com/ and
boy was it ever perfect! Located on avenue de la Bourdonnais at the
intersection of rue Rapp and rue St. Dominique in the 7th, we had a full
view of the Eiffel from our charming little terrace. The apartment was
lovely, with a modern kitchen and baths, very nice furnishings and acces-
sories. The second bedroom was very tiny and I would not recommend it
for an adult couple, but for just me it was just fine. My cousins shared
the master. The location of this gem was perfect. We were within walking
distance to two metro stops (Pont d’Alma or Ecole Militaire) and several
buses stopped outside our door. We were walkable to many good bistros,
cafes and bakeries and only a few blocks from the wonderful market
street Rue Cler.
The apartment manager was a lovely woman, formerly of Arizona, and
a welcome basket filled with practical goodies was waiting when we
arrived, including a baguette bag for us to keep, a lovely bottle of wine,
laundry detergent tabs, some milk, snacks and a wonderful binder filled
with practical information as well as lists and descriptions of restaurants
and attractions. We will be renting from ParisPerfect again, for sure.
There was only one issue. ParisPerfect quotes their rental rates in U.S.
dollars. If you wish to put the rental on a credit card, then the card is
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actually charged in euros. This worked heavily against us. In future, I
would ask to be quoted a rental price in euros to avoid the fluctuation
which I was the victim of since I booked the apartment one year prior. Or
I would send them a US money order, especially now since the Canadian
dollar is so much stronger against the US dollar than against the euro.
Getting Around
I told my cousins to bring with them small 1 1/8headshots and on Sat-
urday we procured our Cartes Oranges (zones 1–3) and our Museum
Passes at our nearest Metro station, in addition to a carnet of 10 single
tickets for getting around until the Carte Orange ticket became active on
Monday morning.
For those of you who don’t speak French, I saw several folks who only
spoke English slip a piece of paper through the ticket wicket indicating
what they wanted, making their transactions very simple. If memory
serves 3 Cartes Orange and 3 Museum Passes plus our carnet of 10 tick-
ets cost 219 euros, or 73 euros each.
I also found out later that kids/students (I think under 18) don’t need
a Museum pass as they get in free. However, they cannot always access
certain Figureions [sic], so I did not regret that we got Paige a pass.
On previous trips I have comfortably and adeptly used the metro, but
on this trip I decided it was time to learn to use the more convenient
and much more scenic bus routes which crosses [sic] the City of Light. I am
so glad I did. We got to see so much more of the neighborhoods, travel with
locals and actually found it more convenient to get to the sites we were
going to with a bit less walking and a lot less stairs. I bought a Paris Pra-
tique pocket-sized book at a Metro station. This handy guide has detailed
maps of each arrondisement, as well as the metro lines, the bus lines, the
RER and the SCNF (trains). I’ll never be without this again.
The Sites
Six months before our trip, I gave Paige a couple of good guide books on
Paris and suggested she let me know what her interests were since after
all, this was to be her trip. So with her list, I had prepared a basic itinerary
as a guideline but I wanted to also be flexible and spontaneous. We got
through about half of what we intended to but we experienced so much
more we hadn’t planned. We walked 8–10 hours a day and thank goodness
for my Puma’s (black, not tourist white) or I would have died!
As this was their first trip we had to cover some of the basics. Here,
roughly was where we went.
Sites
The Marais
Notre Dame
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L’Arc de Triomphe—248 steps up and 248 steps down. . .
Champs Elysée
Jacquemart Museum
Louvre Lite
Musée D’Orsay
Les Invalides, Napoleon’s Tomb and the Napoleon Museum
Sacre Coeur
• Monmartre
Rodin Museum
Pompidou Museum
Train to Vernon, bike to Giverny with Fat Tire Bike Tours
• http://www.fattirebiketoursparis.com/
Eiffel Tower
Unforgettable Memories
This trip had so many memories, but here are a few choice highlights:
A Picture is Worth . . .
On our very first night, knowing that the Eiffel Tower light show
started at 10:00 p.m., I steered my cousin out onto our tiny terrace to see
the glittering spectacle. She was so thrilled and excited and was snap-
ping pictures with her brand-new very expensive digital camera, but did
not have the strap around her wrist. Yup, you guessed it, in her excite-
ment, she dropped the camera and we both watched in shock as it bounced
off our little marble-topped bistro table, through the ornate iron railing
and down the 6 flights to the pavement below. We were stunned. It was
not funny, yet we laughed so hard we were crying. I went racing down to
the street to get it and as I ran out the door, heard her conversing with the
people down below in Spanish! When I opened the door to the street
there was an entire Spanish family: grandma, grandpa, mom, dad and
a few kids standing waiting for me. The father stretched out his cupped
hands which held all of the pieces they were able to recover, including the
memory stick and he very solemnly said, “El muerto. . .”. I thanked him
and returned upstairs with the remains. Lesson learned . . . always use
the strap!
D-Day Lessons
On our second evening we wanted an easy, simple and inexpensive dinner
so we grabbed a table right outside our apartment door at Le Dome, a
neighborhood cafe. A few tables over there were four guys of varying
ages, clearly American and from their haircuts and build, I guessed
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military. They asked if we could take their picture and we struck up con-
versation, only to learn that they were indeed military, guests of the
French government, invited to participate in the D-Day commemoration
in Normandy because they were from the same battalion that liberated
Omaha Beach and they were invited to meet the veterans and represent
their battalion today. They were so honored to be there and had been
very moved by the ceremonies. A couple of them had never been to Europe
and this was their great adventure. They had decided to come to Paris
to find the Harley Davidson store so they could buy Harley Paris t-shirts.
But alas, it was not meant to be as the store was closed and they had to
leave the next morning at the crack of dawn. I told them we’d go get
them the shirts and send them to them from California. Needless to say
they were thrilled.
We ended up walking to the Bateaux Mouches with them and then
along the Seine to the Eiffel, talking about their jobs and their lives as
infantry-men. We heard how hard it is on families, that most of them
don’t care about the politics of the day, or the current administration,
that they have a job to do, whether they agree or not, and that many
of the long term benefits outweigh the short term sacrifices. My 16 year
old cousin was simply awestruck by the entire evening’s events. When
we said goodnight and wished them well, Paige turned to us and told
us that she had learned so much and that it had been a night she’d
never forget. Of course we sought out the Harley store and got them
their t-shirts.
Artist in Residence
Michael Osman is an American artist living in Paris. He supplements
his income by being a tour guide. I found out about him on Fodors. Much
has been written there about him . . . good and bad as well as simply
stupid stuff. But my cousin is a budding artist and I thought it might be
enjoyable for her to experience some of Paris’ best art offerings through
the eyes of another artist. So I engaged Michael for two days. His warmth,
charm, wit and quirkiness were infectious and by the end of two days we
cried when we said goodbye and feel like he’s part of our family.
He brought insight and intelligence, historical perspective and tailored
the itinerary to Paige’s interests. Paige will always remember him
fondly . . . after all...he taught her the meaning of allegory.
Worth a Try
From the beginning, Paige was a French enthusiast. She asked for a
French lesson every day and would then actually use the new words and
phrases wherever we went. On several occasions, people commented on
how polite she was and it served her well when she was rewarded with
additional pain au chocolat or extra dessert treats.
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The Men, the Women, the Children
Everywhere we went people were charming, engaging and welcoming. We
especially noticed how beautiful the women were and their style and
flair for dressing, even in the hottest weather. But the men were equally
charming and flirtatious. I got my come-uppance when I hastily, and
without thinking, commented in English to what I thought was a non-
English speaking waiter that he had the most exquisite eyes I’d ever
seen and without skipping a beat, he replied to me in French,“Only when
I am in your presence!” Swoooon!
A Manger [French for “a diner”]
We were determined to eat casually and simply. Breakfasts were at our
cafe outside our apartment where for 6 euros we got orange juice, a
buttered baguette, a croissant and a cafe creme. Lunches were often on
the run, crepes, salads, sandwiches etc. usually in close proximity to
wherever we were sightseeing. Dinners were always in our neighbor-
hood and came from either the detailed and lengthy list of restaurants
we were provided by Paris Perfect, or from information from my various
guidebooks. Thanks to so many Fodor’s Posters who provided excellent
restaurant recommendations, as well as to previous guests of ParisPer-
fect who left copious notes on their favorite haunts.
A few we enjoyed were Cafe de Mars, La Terrace de 7eme,Bistro du Papa.
After reading a previous Fodorite’s trip report, we headed off to find
La Cigale, for souffles . . . La Cigale 4 rue Recamier 75007 in the 7th, in
a little alley, hard to find. On our trip to Giverny, we met a young woman
from Brisbane, Australia who was traveling on her own and we invited
her to join us. Three of us enjoyed delicious and innovative souffles, while
Paige had the rack of lamb.We shared two dessert souffles, one chocolate
and the other cherry/almond. Yum.
One of our favorite meals was at Relais de L’Entrecote. One of my all
time favorites, this is a steakhouse like no other you’ve ever been to. No
menus. No reservations. Cash only. For a very low price you get gorgeous
a salad, steak sliced in the best sauce I’ve ever had, unending hot, crispy
frites, wine and dessert. A real neighborhood joint.
The review in Zagat says it like this and I concur, “When ordering
from the friendly but no-nonsense servers, rare, medium or well done
are the only words you need to know because the reasonably priced beef’s
the only game in town here. 2 locations. 6th arrondissement, 8th
arrondissement. . . 20 bis, rue St-Benoit (St-Germain-des-Prés) Paris 014
5491600, or 15, rue Marbeuf (Franklin D. Roosevelt) Paris 014 9520717.”
Shop ’til We Drop
I wanted Paige to get a feel for shopping experiences that she would
not have at home (aka . . . the ubiquitous Mall). We strolled the designer
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rich (and rich designer) Avenue de la Montaigne, the boutiques of
St. Germain, the overwhelming Galeries Lafayette (where I discovered
the champagne bar and parked myself to imbibe while my cousin
shopped), the trendy stores of the Marais, the markets, the museum
shops, an art fair and the bookanistes. She became very adept at scop-
ing out the hundreds of shops that carried teensy, weensy (size 0) clothes
that would set her apart at home, focusing on the trendiest most fun
clothing and accessories. Her initial shyness soon evaporated and she
would stride into a store issuing the requisite “Bonjour madame/
mademoiselle” upon entry and “Merci, bonne journee” upon exiting. One
of my favorite experiences was when she asked if we could go into Chanel
on Avenue de la Montaigne . . . just to look around. She politely asked to
see the earrings and picked up several of the small, plastic button earrings
with the ubiquitous Chanel “C’s”.When told they were 230 euros, without
a beat, and with a polite smile she said, “Thank you, they are a bit more
than I was hoping to spend.” When we left the shop, she commented on
the fact they were just a pair of plastic earrings :)
Monet’s Gardens
We went on Fat Tire’s day trip to Monet’s gardens and house in Giverny,
about an hour outside Paris. We took the train with the group and then
picked up the bikes at the train station in Vernon, biked to the market
to pick up lunch items, had a picnic lunch then biked to the house for the
afternoon. It was lovely and I highly recommend it. We were there at
peak season and it was mobbed, so I’d suggest it may be more enjoyable
in the off season, though the lily ponds may not be in bloom.
This company also has several other tours, including a night tour, a day
tour, a tour of Versailles and segue tours . . . see their Web site
http://www.fattirebiketoursparis.com/. I reserved on line ahead of time.
The End
I could go on and on. . .but look, I already have. Obviously we had a
wonderful time and I know Paige will treasure the memory of this girl’s
trip for many years to come.
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APPENDIX 2
“Unzipped,” by Scott, posted on his blog site, December 1999
It was the evening of December 20th, three days before I was to depart
for Indiana on my annual pilgrimage home. I needed a wheeled garment
bag so that I could give my aching back a rest during the long journey.
As usual, the week before Christmas turned out to be a frenzy, so I had
put off my luggage purchase until the last minute. If I wanted a new
garment bag, I had to get it that night. Not wanting to run the gauntlet
of holiday-crazed suburb dwellers that were crowding the large shop-
ping mall, I opted to visit a luggage store in a small strip mall near my
office. I parked my car and strode for the store entrance, flush with the
happy willingness to buy that seems to possess Americans in the busy
days before Christmas. I pulled the door open, its bell jingling merrily.
At the sound the saleswoman moved from behind the counter to greet me
at the front of the store. As my foot crossed the threshold I immediately
realized two things:
1. The saleswoman was extremely attractive.
2. My pants were completely unzipped.
To say that this woman was extremely attractive would actually be an
understatement. She was gorgeous. She stood 57and had shoulder-
length black hair, high cheekbones, and a perfect button nose. Her well-
proportioned mouth spoke English with a vaguely European accent,
which added to the mystery. Her body was nothing but curves. She was
a statue wrapped in a blue ribbed turtleneck sweater and stylish black
pants, both garments tight enough to observe the sculptor’s fine crafts-
manship from across the room. Her slender legs looked even longer when
punctuated by square-toed high-heeled boots, their shiny black leather
winking from beneath the hem of her slacks.
To say that my pants were unzipped would likewise be an under-
statement. In point of fact, they were about to fall off. The button of my
jeans had apparently come undone in the car, and the zipper had fallen
completely open under the inevitable tug of gravity. The only thing keep-
ing the pants attached to their owner at all was a brown belt, and the
1-inch strip of worn leather did not look like it was up to the task. Not
only that, but I happened to be wearing a pair of loose-fitting jeans that
day, purchased in a foolish attempt to look with it. (Damn you and your
marketing, Tommy Hilfiger!) These pants were almost loose enough to fall
off when they were fastened, and in their current state I feared that they
would slip to the ground at the slightest encouragement.
I told this story to a friend who cheekily applauded my bravado,
suggesting that approaching such a woman with an open zipper con-
stitutes the sincerest form of honesty. To him let me just say that it’s
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easy to laugh when your pants are well secured. I, on the other hand,
was mortified. There’s nothing more dreadful than being embarrassed
in front of a person you find attractive, and this seemed like the
inevitable outcome of my current situation. I was instantly transported
back to eighth grade, when my friend Kyle had yanked down my pants
in front of a girl that I really liked at the time. I was devastated. I was
so embarrassed that I couldn’t even look at her after that day. My
ears burned for months afterward. Fourteen years later, I shuddered at
the memory.
“May I help you?” She asked again. I had apparently missed her orig-
inal query, lost in thought as I was. I quickly realized that there were only
two choices: make my purchase and leave as quickly as possible, or walk
out the door and never, ever come back. If I gambled and won, I’d have
my luggage and no one would be the wiser. If I lost ...well, it would
be eighth grade all over again. As I looked at this radiant beauty, her
smile lighting up the store, I felt that familiar sickly dread of junior high
welling up inside me. The only thing that kept me from bolting was my
poor, aching back.
“Yes,” I replied, “I’m looking for a wheeled garment bag.”
The saleswoman smiled at me. “We have several excellent models, sir,
she replied warmly as she strode with feline grace to a rack of luggage,
leaving a trail of perfume and clipped vowels in her wake.
This was going to be harder than I thought. Part of the problem was
that Valentine, which I later learned was her name, was an excellent
saleswoman. I have never met anyone so knowledgeable about luggage.
She knew every manufacturer, she knew every bag and, most devastat-
ing to my cause, she knew where everything was in the store. I’d hoped
that if I asked enough questions she might be forced to go in the back room
for a minute and leave me alone to put my pants back on. Alas, this was
not to be. She moved with the cool assurance of a master, ready to han-
dle any question I threw at her. To make matters worse, I couldn’t take
my eyes off of her. She was beautiful. She made luggage sales look like
the sexiest thing in the world. I watched, mesmerized, as her shapely
fingers caressed glistening black nylon. Her silky voice enchanted me
with a siren song of aluminum frame construction and lifetime war-
ranties. My reverie was snapped only by the sensation of my jeans slid-
ing down my legs. I realized that I had to regroup and concentrate if I was
going to make it out with my dignity intact. I took a deep breath, cleared
my mind, and got to work.
I adopted a two-pronged strategy. The first phase, the Hike, was an
attempt to hike the pants up to temporarily prevent them from slipping
off of my hips and onto the floor. To execute the Hike, I casually hooked
a thumb through one of my belt loops and tugged the waist as high as I
could get it. I imagined myself doing this contemplatively, as an aristo-
crat might pull on his sleeve to signal a bid at an auction.
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The second phase of my plan, the cover, was intended to prevent anyone
from discovering the hiking activities that were then taking place. I thrust
my non-hiking hand into the pocket of my long black coat and casually
pulled that side of the coat around me. At the same time I pulled my
shoulders into my coat to cover more of my front, as if a chill wind had
just blown through the store.
I put my plan into action immediately. The resulting exchange would
not have looked out of place in a Charlie Chaplin movie. Although I
attempted to make it look natural by switching my hiking and covering
hands, I had to adjust so often that my clothing was constantly in motion.
I was a blur of blue denim and black wool.
Valentine: Zis bag has many expandable pockets.
Me: Ah. (Left-hand Hike. Right-hand Cover.)
Valentine: Zis makes eet very useful for short trips or long trips.
Me: I see. (Right-hand Hike.)
Valentine: Zis bag also uses rip-stop ballistic nylon and durable
polyurezane veels [sic].
Me: (Left-hand Hike.) Polyurethane wheels, huh? (Right-hand Cover.
Left-hand Hike.) That’s good. (Right-hand Hike.)
We continued in this manner for several minutes as I tried to focus on
the important luggage facts being shot at me, machine gun style, from
Valentine’s perfect mouth. She gushed over a $300 suit bag made by
Travelpro, enumerating its many features while frequently stressing its
high-quality American manufacture. She claimed it was the very best
bag in the store, second only to a more expensive Italian bag. I nodded
appreciatively, not bothering to work out the math. (I’m telling you, she
was good.)
I did not have $700 to spend on Italian luggage, so my choice was
pretty clear after about five minutes. I couldn’t appear too anxious,
though. If I my retreat were too hasty, Valentine might get suspicious
and give me the once-over. One well timed glance at my nether regions and
I was done for. I was also worried about looking like a cheapskate, even
in this time of crisis. I had to examine a few other options and then, after
careful consideration, choose the Travelpro not because I couldn’t afford
the other bags, which of course I couldn’t, but because I had the Financial
Acumen to recognize that it was a great buy.
I poked and prodded at the other bags, rubbing my chin thoughtfully
whenever I had a free hand that wasn’t busy Hiking or Covering.Valen-
tine helpfully demonstrated every zipper on every bag, and each
zzzzzzzzzip! ratcheted up my anxiety level. My pants kept slipping. The
store, previously empty, was now nearly full, as if a tour bus of luggage-
hungry sightseers had just pulled up. The time had come to make my
move. I waited for her to finish talking about the quality of American
ball bearings and then, with a thoughtful pause, I said, “You know, I think
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I’m going [to] go ahead and get the Travelpro.” Her face lit up like a
child’s on Christmas morning.
“Oh, zat is an excellent choice, sir!” she glowed, putting her delicate
hand on my arm. The feeling of warmth at her touch was tempered only
slightly by the thought of what might happen if she jostled me too force-
fully. “Right zis vay sir, and ve’ll get you all taken care of.” She pulled my
new bag up onto its wheels, thrust the handle at me, and slinked over to
the cash register, her pants swishing as she walked.
It was with horror that I realized my next predicament: getting to the
counter. My pants were looser than ever, and the motion of walking would
surely just speed their escape. My only chance was to walk quickly and
use inertia to keep them up. I made it in two fast strides, but I nearly
tripped on the way. Safely across the store, I could now lean on the counter
to halt the downward progress of my trousers. The trip had frightened
me, though; I was clearly losing my concentration. I had to get out of
there fast.
Valentine gathered the paperwork needed to ring up my purchase. For
some reason, it seemed that everything she needed to complete our trans-
action was in an extremely low drawer behind the register, which required
her to keep bending over suggestively. I tried not to look, but my leaning
posture put me in a perfect ogling position. Not wanting to move my legs
and risk disaster, I turned my head awkwardly to the right and gazed at
a display of backpacks to reassure the others in the store that I wasn’t
staring. The smirk on the face of the other store employee told me that I
wasn’t going a very good job. (Why couldn’t he have been my salesman?)
Finally Valentine stood up and began to process my credit card. It was
taking forever. I prayed that my credit card wouldn’t be rejected. I began
to sweat. Finally the machine spit out a receipt, which Valentine offered to
me, smiling. I signed it quickly and turned to go, but she wasn’t through.
She handed me a passel of items and explained each one at length: my
credit card, my receipts, the owner’s manual, the warranty card. I
patiently waited until she was through and then, with as attractive a
smile as I could muster, yanked everything out of her hand. Not even
bothering to put my credit card back into my wallet, I turned on my heel
and hurried out.
“Zank you sir, and have vonderful holiday!” Her accent played in my
ears as I wheeled my trophy out of the store.
I stood on the sidewalk outside. It was 150 feet to the car. My hands
would be full during the journey, so I wouldn’t be able to make any pants
adjustments on the way. If they started to slip at all, they were going
straight to the ground. I had a horrible vision of myself standing in the
middle of the brightly-lit parking lot with my pants around my ankles,
surrounded by Valentine and the people from the tour bus, all of them
cackling and pointing. I shuddered. This was it. I performed one final
Hike, grabbed the suitcase handle, and made a break for it.
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I took long strides, keeping my legs perpendicular to the ground for as
long as possible. I looked like a football player high-stepping through a
series of tires. I was sure Valentine was watching me; I could feel her
cool blue eyes burrowing into my back. The parking lot seemed to get
longer with every step I took, like that hallway in “The Shining.”
I reached the car (out of breath!) and frantically pressed the unlock
button on my car remote (hurry up hurry up!) until the lights flashed and
I heard the metallic snick! of the lock. I tore open the trunk (my God,
they’re slipping!), threw the suitcase inside (faster, faster!) and tossed
in the handful of papers Valentine had given me (no time, just go!). My
credit card clattered against the garment bag’s wheels.
I slammed the trunk closed (almost there!), whirled around, whipped
open the driver’s door, and dove for the safety of the cockpit.The darkness
was like a tall, cool glass of water. After a long drink I pressed my back
against the seat, slid the jeans up to my waist, zipped them up, and
fastened the button.
Rapture! I was never so glad to be wearing pants in all my life.
Happiness flooded over me. I wanted to sing a song. I wanted to hug
someone. I wanted to apologize to Tommy Hilfiger and take back the
nasty things I’d said about his questionable parentage.“I was emotional!
No hard feelings?”
Most of all, I wanted to go back inside and talk to Valentine. I wanted
to tell her about the whole silly situation and explain why I had been
acting so strangely. In the end, she’d probably think it was cute. She’d
laugh and put her hand on my arm again. She’d find the story charming,
like in the movies, and insist on buying me a cup of coffee. But life, as
I well know, is not the movies, and I was not about to risk humiliation
twice in one evening. I sped out of the parking lot and into the night, my
hips snugly ensconced in denim.
Epilogue: It turned out that the garment bag was too small, so I couldn’t
even take it on my trip. I wanted to return it, but I couldn’t bring myself
to go back. The bag is still sitting in my closet. I haven’t worn those jeans
since that night, and I haven’t been back to the store.
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APPENDIX 3
“Long coat, no knickers . . .,” by Pollee, posted August 24, 2001
Well I wouldn’t wear a fur coat—not a real one anyway—so the title
had to reflect that!!
I have discovered a lovely second hand ladies wear shop in Beachamp
[sic] Place near Harrods in Knightsbrisge [sic] which has designer wear
at vastly reduced prices. I bought a Valentino short leather skirt (and
the leather is baby soft, ok I know I said I wouldn’t wear fur—so I’m
inconsistent!) which would cost £600 new for £110 and it looks really as
new—you would never have guessed it’s second hand.
Anyway—onto the op—at this lovely shop I spoed [English for spied]
a beautiful cream coloured cashmere coat—Versace no less for 150 pounds.
Sold to the lady slobbering in the corner!
The feel of the cashmere was sooo soft and it was lined with a beauti-
ful silver embossed lining that felt beautiful against the skin and epito-
mised luxury all the way.
No way would I be able to afford one of these at the real price of nearly
£1,000.
The fit of the coat was wonderful and I felt like I was one of those film
stars sweeping into the room wearing the most wonderful outfit.
Versace is available at so many stores now, almost always tied up by
anti theft devices so this was the first time I had ever been able to try
Versace on.
There is a great Versace store at Biscester which does have cheaper
prices—worth a look! This coat was less than 6 months old and had been
sent in by a lady who gets her clothers for nothing and wears them once
or twice and then sends them in for resale.
Having worn Versace I would definitely look to buy something else
from their ‘stable’ as the finish on this coat is the best. It has been hand
stitched and reeks of quality.
Proud of my purchase and having just been into Rigby and Pellar for
my six month refit of lingerie I started my journey home wanting to show
off my purchases.
On speaking to the man of the moment I found he was at home not
doing a great deal and, as he was on his own, I thought I could pay him
a visit. We agreed I would get a takeaway on the way back.
My mind wandered as I negotiated the motorway and I was so eager
to show off my new ‘buys’ that I cooked up a surprise. I have always wanted
to do this and this was the perfect opportunity. I picked up the take away
and then pulled into the local garage to use the loo.
It didn’t take long to change into the lingerie and on a whim I didn’t
redress but just put on my coat. Luckily I had been wearing a skirt in any
case so had the required stockings to complete the look ;-)
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I stuffed my bags with my remaining clothes and left the garage try-
ing not to look too conspicuous! No one, of course, paid any attention to
me at all but I really thought they knew what I was up to.
Now the food was getting colder the hotter I became and I really wasn’t
concentrating too well on my driving. As a precaution (clever girl—I’m
learning)I thought I would ring my man to check he was still alone, after
all I didn’t want to make a fool of myself.Yes he was alone and where was
his dinner! Well I thought ...I hope to be giving you some food for thought
in a few minutes ;-)
As I rung off down I caught sight of a blue light behind me.......the
local constabulary wanted to discuss me using a mobile phone while
driving.....well they don’t have a great deal to do in this rural area!
I duly pulled over and sat in the car having wound the window a lit-
tle—after all you never know if they’re real. They were real and asked
me to get out of the car.
Now I don’t know if you have ever stolen a frozen chicken by stuffing
it up your skirt and trying to walk away casually, but if you have you
will be able to visualise how I got out of the car . . . trying the hardest not
to reveal what was (or wasn’t) underneath my coat.
Versace did not let me down. The coat, all encompassing, only using two
of the buttons provided kept my chastity covered. This coat has quality
and after several dry cleanings because of the colour still looks as good
as new!
The problem I had was that the evening was very warm and they
asked why I was wearing a coat when it was so hot.
The fear on my face convinced them that I was smuggling drugs or
something and their manner was less convivial.
Quick as a flash I told them I was going to a fancy dress vicars and tarts
party. [Refers to a party where the theme requires guests to arrive dressed
up as either a vicar or a prostitute. It is a very English tradition.]
‘Let’s have a look’ said the youngest one, who was the one if I had a
choice I would have accepted a drink from! I pulled up my coat to show
the top of a leg and told them that was all they were getting!
They laughed and we all went our separate ways.....thank goodness.
Five or six minutes later I arrived at my mans house, ‘nice coat’ he
said as I wafted in like a film star, ‘did you remember the poppadoms?’
[Indian crisp bread served at curry houses in England often as an accom-
paniment to the main course.]
As I tried to kiss him he shifted me out of the way as the football was
on. I resorted to standing in front of the TV and slowly unbuttoning my
two buttons......luckily he has a microwave, and only the Nan bread
went soft ;-)
Would I buy Versace again? Best coat I ever bought!
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Many marketers contend that recent developments in the philosophy of science imply that objectivity in marketing research is an illusion, a chimera, or impossible. Five arguments are customarily put forth that supposedly demonstrate the impossibility of objectivity: (1) linguistic relativism, (2) paradigm incommensurability, (3) theories are underdetermined by facts, (4) perception is theory-laden, and (5) epistemically significant observations are theory-laden. The author evaluates the five arguments, shows that there is nothing in the philosophy of science that dooms objective marketing research, and puts forth the “positive case” for objectivity.
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This paper reviews research and theory on human memory, emphasizing key findings and concepts of importance to marketing and consumer choice. Several implications for promotional decisions are discussed. It is hoped that this review will stimulate further research on, and applications of, memory principles in marketing.