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Auditioning for Amazon : The dark side of place branding and corporate domination

Sullivan, Katie; Rennstam, Jens LU and Bertilsson, Jon LU (2019) The dark side of communication
Abstract
This case study on the dark side of communication and place branding explores the Amazon corporation’s highly-publicized competitive search for a city to become their second headquarters (dubbed HQ2). In 2017 Amazon sent an open Request for Proposals (RFP) to cities in North America defining what constitutes an ‘ideal’ headquarters. In addition to offering capital and incentives, Amazon’s ideal city is a creative-thinking, business-friendly metropolitan hub that attracts technical talent. The RFP motivated 238 cities to submit proposals communicating their particular ‘business-friendly brand’. A year of intense media attention later, Amazon announced they would split their second U.S. headquarters between two cities in New York and... (More)
This case study on the dark side of communication and place branding explores the Amazon corporation’s highly-publicized competitive search for a city to become their second headquarters (dubbed HQ2). In 2017 Amazon sent an open Request for Proposals (RFP) to cities in North America defining what constitutes an ‘ideal’ headquarters. In addition to offering capital and incentives, Amazon’s ideal city is a creative-thinking, business-friendly metropolitan hub that attracts technical talent. The RFP motivated 238 cities to submit proposals communicating their particular ‘business-friendly brand’. A year of intense media attention later, Amazon announced they would split their second U.S. headquarters between two cities in New York and Virginia. Our empirical materials include Amazon’s public H2Q documents, 15 cities’ publicly available proposals, and 10-15 city-generated promotional videos. We draw on critical discourse analysis (Fairclough, 1993), critical studies of branding (Mumby, 2016) and Powers’ (1997) Audit Society to explore how a branding orientation shifts the power relationships between cities and corporations. Expected findings include insights into how cities brand themselves for Amazon in text and imagery, how cities make themselves ‘auditable’ and with what effects, and how a brand orientation is generated in the interaction between corporate strategizing and city management. Inviting cities to brand themselves around the Amazon ideal encouraged conformity to the Amazon brand, rather than diversity. This case shows how city branding becomes a medium of corporate interests.
ReferencesFairclough, N. (1993). Critical discourse analysis and the marketization of public discourse: The universities. Discourse & Society, 4(2), 133-168.
Mumby, D. K. 2016. “Organizing Beyond Organization: Branding, Discourse, and Communicative Capitalism,” Organization, 23, 884–907.
Power, M. (1997). The audit society: Rituals of verification. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Less)
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organization
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Contribution to conference
publication status
published
subject
conference name
The dark side of communication
conference location
Aalborg, Denmark
conference dates
2019-08-14 - 2019-08-16
language
English
LU publication?
yes
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cb54f264-54ca-4246-8c3d-9c2d8d3bbe44
date added to LUP
2019-08-19 11:15:07
date last changed
2019-08-19 11:48:18
@misc{cb54f264-54ca-4246-8c3d-9c2d8d3bbe44,
  abstract     = {This case study on the dark side of communication and place branding explores the Amazon corporation’s highly-publicized competitive search for a city to become their second headquarters (dubbed HQ2). In 2017 Amazon sent an open Request for Proposals (RFP) to cities in North America defining what constitutes an ‘ideal’ headquarters. In addition to offering capital and incentives, Amazon’s ideal city is a creative-thinking, business-friendly metropolitan hub that attracts technical talent. The RFP motivated 238 cities to submit proposals communicating their particular ‘business-friendly brand’. A year of intense media attention later, Amazon announced they would split their second U.S. headquarters between two cities in New York and Virginia. Our empirical materials include Amazon’s public H2Q documents, 15 cities’ publicly available proposals, and 10-15 city-generated promotional videos. We draw on critical discourse analysis (Fairclough, 1993), critical studies of branding (Mumby, 2016) and Powers’ (1997) Audit Society to explore how a branding orientation shifts the power relationships between cities and corporations. Expected findings include insights into how cities brand themselves for Amazon in text and imagery, how cities make themselves ‘auditable’ and with what effects, and how a brand orientation is generated in the interaction between corporate strategizing and city management. Inviting cities to brand themselves around the Amazon ideal encouraged conformity to the Amazon brand, rather than diversity. This case shows how city branding becomes a medium of corporate interests.<br/>ReferencesFairclough, N. (1993). Critical discourse analysis and the marketization of public discourse: The universities. Discourse &amp; Society, 4(2), 133-168.<br/>Mumby, D. K. 2016. “Organizing Beyond Organization: Branding, Discourse, and Communicative Capitalism,” Organization, 23, 884–907.<br/>Power, M. (1997). The audit society: Rituals of verification. Oxford: Oxford University Press.},
  author       = {Sullivan, Katie and Rennstam, Jens and Bertilsson, Jon},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Aalborg, Denmark},
  title        = {Auditioning for Amazon : The dark side of place branding and corporate domination},
  year         = {2019},
}