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Sign Wars: Hollywood Documentaries Branding Politics

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This paper analyses one influential Hollywood documentary, Edward Zwick’s movie Blood Diamond as if it were an advertising campaign. Drawing on a business school textbook: Sign Wars: The Cluttered Landscape of Advertising, it poses the kinds of question an advertiser would: namely how the brand image is established, how it is made superior to other images and how good it is at capturing would-be-consumers. The paper suggests that Blood Diamond fares well on all three accounts and it traces why this is so. Specifically, it emphasizes the extent to which the film has contributed to establish and solidify the link between blood and diamonds in a process of "cultural cannibalism”. Second, it underlines role of "Hollywood authenticity” in establishing its very particular picture of politics as superior to alternatives. This certainly is more an unintended "collateral damage” than a part the producers’/directors’ intention. Finally, the last section suggests that Blood Diamond effectively captures the spectator by the reassuring, but illusive, plurality of images and by its visual fetichism.

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Anna Leander

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