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Enchantment, tribalism and rituals

An evening of post-modern marketing evaluation

What have Lady Gaga, football fans, The Great Gatsby, Harrods, City Unrulyversity and The Supper Club got in common?

Answer, they were all tackled by Cass Business School undergraduates for their final projects in the new course "Contemporary Topics in Marketing."

All projects were based on real-life activities and culminated in a presentation evening, hosted at the Unruly clubhouse just off Brick Lane.

Nine groups took to the stage to compete in an informal competition. The challenge was to explain how the brands utilised elements of tribalism, authenticity and enchantment to market their brand experience.

The winning group: Hannah Bellekom, Emma Furniss, Felix Katzer, Simran Litt, and Sam Pierson looked at Lady Gaga as a cultural brand.

Using the format of an 'infomercial', the group explored how Lady Gaga can be the 'pill' against contemporary society problems. These included the feeling of not belonging or not being accepted.

They also explored the evolution of the Lady Gaga brand from her early career as a pop star, to the creation of the 'born this way' foundation.

Another group researched football fans. They argued how the ritual of preparing for a game was an example of post-modern tribal behaviour. Singing, joining other tribe members at the ground or in the pub, and the costumes of shirts and scarves were all cited.

Two groups looked at The Great Gatsby. One group experienced 1920's New York at the Wilton Music Hall production where they were treated to 'an amplified retro brand.' They demonstrated how the authenticity of the experience and the ritual of dressing up and participating added value to the stage production.

The second group created a marketing plan for the release of the new movie, due out this summer. Incorporating social media, celebrity endorsement and events the team demonstrated how post-modern marketing was fragmented and experience-driven.

Two groups visited Harrods and examined how the world-famous department store uses elements of enchantment in the Egyptian themed rooms. These elements invoke a feeling of belonging and enhance the consumers' desire to buy. They also explored how the aura of the Harrods brand is co-created by the multiplicity of narratives, myths, legends, representation and simulations that make this consumption experience so unique.

The Supper Club phenomenon is an experience where attendees are invited to eat at a stranger's house. A team explained it as 'cool tribalism'. Participants are drawn together by the feeling of doing something alternative and away from the mainstream.

The last two groups explored the digital trends of viral video and online products. The explosion of social video sharing as a marketing tool is one of the most powerful changes in the industry for a generation.

The challenge of how to create a successful viral video for City Unrulyversity was explained by the group called 'Yo Dawg: I heard you like social video'.

The group called 'Connecting the future' created Blech, a smart, solar powered blind that could harvest not only sunlight, but weather data, to feed back for the creation of even smarter solutions.

"I am really impressed with the creativity and the amount of work that the students put into their performances. They did brilliantly and I'm really proud of them," said Dr Caroline Wiertz, the module leader.

"This was all a bit of an experiment. I wanted to create a course for our final-year students that encouraged them out of their usual ways of thinking, out of their comfort zone, and physically out of the university. We are privileged to be situated right at the heart of the most vibrant and innovative part of London, and we used this unique situation both inspirationally and physically during the module. The quality of my students' work is proof that this concept worked, and in addition, we all had a lot of fun. What more can you wish for?"

The students collaborated with a number of companies, including Harrods, Twitter, Unruly, and EVRYTHNG. Kerry Ritz of EVRYTHNG was part of the judging panel and said:"I really enjoyed having a chance to participate. It brought back some memories of marketing academia, although, I must admit, there wasn't much discussion of post modern marketing during my era (perhaps we weren't quite past the "modern" phase!)"

The rest of the judging panel comprised Barney Worfolk-Smith of Unruly, Cass Deputy Dean Professor Cliff Oswick and marketing academics Dr Stephanie Feiereisen and Dr Marius Luedicke.

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