Throwaway History: Brand Ephemera and Consumer Culture


Heller, Michael and Kelly, A. 2014. Throwaway History: Brand Ephemera and Consumer Culture. Journal of Macromarketing. 35 (3), pp. 397-406.
AuthorsHeller, Michael and Kelly, A.

In this article, we consider how brand artifacts and ephemera can be used to understand social and cultural history. We present an
analysis of the Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising in London and examine the collection of exhibits. Our analysis reveals
that the museum is predominantly a collection of low involvement brands that reflect important developments in British society
and culture over the past 150 years. We begin with a historiography of brands in Britain from 1800 – 1980 drawn primarily from
the field of business history. We then analyze the exhibits of the museum and its collections, considering the predominance of low
involvement brands in the collection and the relationship between the museum and its corporate sponsors. Finally, we evaluate
brands as sociocultural phenomena and explore what the exhibits at the museum imply for contemporary brand management
theory. We conclude that low involvement brands have been neglected within brand management research and that our collective
throwaway history of brands and packaging are rich sources for understanding society and culture.

JournalJournal of Macromarketing
Journal citation35 (3), pp. 397-406
Accepted author manuscript
Web address (URL)
Publication dates
Print03 Dec 2014
Publication process dates
Deposited01 Jun 2015
Accepted14 Nov 2014
Copyright information© The Authors 2014
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