Reconfiguring Creativity and Expert Labour: Darwinian Struggles Between Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:25
Location: Hörsaal III (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Clea BOURNE, Goldsmiths, University of London, United Kingdom

Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations (PR) have experienced phenomenal occupational growth throughout the past century. Their emergence as separate professional projects is a story of interprofessional tensions (Abbott 1988) in the struggle for dominance as ‘trusted advisers’ to client-organisations.

All three are, notably, entrepreneurial professions – governed by market mechanisms and highly responsive to the organisational cultures they serve (Muzio et al, 2008). Their legitimacy has evolved through efforts to assuage producer anxiety. Each field promotes itself as the most appropriate for “controlling, influencing and predicting” what stakeholders want or what consumers are prepared to buy (Lury & Warde, 1997: 92).

Marketing long ago ‘won’ the battle against Advertising and PR for legitimacy as scientific, managerial ‘efficiency experts’. But the interprofessional battlefront has shifted. The speed of change is moving faster. Revolutionary technologies have transformed communications management and delivery, exposing all three fields to new sources of pressure and control.

Science still matters. But today’s clients valorise creativity more than ever. Creativity offers ‘newness’, the ability to break new boundaries and establish new genres (Nixon 2003). Creativity fuels the design of ever-new products, ever-more sophisticated campaigns and everlasting ‘buzz’across digital and traditional platforms.

Advertising once ruled the creative ‘roost’. Now its jurisdiction is under threat from both Marketing and PR. PR is ‘reclaiming’ creativity as a specialism; hiring creative directors and ‘creative catalysts’, even entering the prestigious Cannes Lions creative awards (Rogers, 2014). Meanwhile, Marketing’s once ‘scientific’ managers are now pressured to become ‘brainstorming experts’.

The site for this empirical study is London, one of the world’s largest ‘creative economies’, home to thousands of promotional professionals. The paper will explore their latest Darwinian struggle through a narrative analysis of news stories published in UK-based trade publications; thus contributing new understandings of hybridization and disruption in the evolution of expert labour.