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Accepted Paper:

The 'Unox-effect': brands between profit maximizing and nation making: a case study from the Netherlands  
Sophie Elpers (Meertens Institute, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

Brands and related marketing strategies of diverse Dutch companies focus on ‘Dutchness' with the aim to reach the national sentiments of the consumers. By taking the example of the brand Unox, the paper examines how these strategies affect the consumers as well as the employees of the companies.

Paper long abstract:

In the Netherlands, like in other European countries, a desire of a huge part of the population for national identity is capitalized. Brands as well as related marketing strategies focus on the 'Dutchness' of companies and their products with the aim to reach the national sentiments of the consumers. One of the most active companies in this field is Unilever with its brand Unox, famous for its soups and sausages. The company connects itself and its products with rituals and feasts perceived as 'typically Dutch', like the New Year's Day swim and the skating tour 'Elfstedentocht'. This has effects on the rituals themselves and affects those performing the rituals. For instance, as result of a strong marketing strategy more and more participants in the swim event wear orange Unox caps (orange as 'national' colour of the Netherlands), and thus, on the one hand, strengthen the 'national' character of the ritual concerned, and, on the other hand, uphold the brand (un)consciously. The commercialization of the rituals leads to serious conflicts about cultural property and the protection of culture against commercial exploitation, but it also leads to negotiations about the nation within the company which again has an impact on the everyday (work)life of the employees.

The papers will present fieldwork conducted in the company of Unilever and amongst the bearers of the rituals concerned.

Panel P067
Brands as sites of collaborative over-production
  Session 1