The Joel Kahn Anthropology Lecture 2015: Mobile Branding: Creating Consumer-Citizens Across The Caribbean And Pacific

Heather Horst presented “Mobile Branding Creating Consumer-Citizens Across the Caribbean and Pacific” at La Trobe University on 24 September 2015. The growth of the mobile phone use around the world has corresponded with an increase in advertising for new mobile telecommunication services and a range of promotions and sponsorships. From billboards, signs and radio jingles to branded t-shirts, bags and umbrellas, advertisements and other branding strategies are designed to develop demand for an evolving suite of mobile-enabled services, often by drawing aesthetic connections between mobile companies and local, national and global senses of belonging. This talk compares the development of mobile telecommunications branding by one company - Digicel Ltd - in the Caribbean and Pacific and their efforts to create consumer-citizens across these contexts. Combining attentions to the semiotics of advertising with the reactions to these branding strategies by users, I suggest that being and creating a mobile phone consumer cannot be understood outside the broader state-company relationships that shape the global telecommunication landscape.