heather Horst presented “Calling the spirit of Fiji” at the Mobiles and Media in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Workshop (link to this http://sydney.edu.au/southeast-asia-centre/events/mobiles-social-media.shtml) at the University of Sydney on 12-13 November 2015.
Calling the spirit of Fiji
Throughout many parts of the Pacific the growth of the mobile phone use has corresponded with an increase in advertising for new mobile telecommunication services and a range of promotions and sponsorships. Advertisements and associated branding strategies are designed to create consumers and develop demand for an evolving suite of mobile-enabled services, often by making aesthetic connections between mobile companies and local, national and global senses of belonging. This paper traces the development of mobile telecommunications branding in Fiji, beginning with Vodafone Fiji Ltd in 1994 and continuing through the introduction of tow new mobile companies in 2007 and 2008 and the Vodafone Group’s recent sale of its 49% stake in Vodafone Fiji Td to the Fiji National Provident Fund. Situating the mobile branding strategies in relation to the changing relationships between consumers, companies and states, I analyse the continuous moral and cultural work that mobile companies engage in to create consumers, and at times, citizens. Through the paper’s focus upon changes in branding strategies over time, I demonstrate how the semiotic work of creating mobile phone consumers and, by extension, consumer-citizens cannot be understood outside the broader state-company relationships that shape the telecommunications landscape.