The Promotional Surround: Logos, Promos, Idents, Trailers – deadline 10 December 2008

AHRC workshop on ephemeral media, University of Nottingham, 21-22 July 2009

The ephemeral media workshop is part of the AHRC’s ‘Beyond Text’ research programme and is designed to facilitate discussion in a small group environment. It can provide travel (up to £100), accommodation, and subsistence costs to all accepted participants. To apply for the workshop, please send a 250 word paper proposal and a short biography highlighting relevant research interests or publications to generalenquiries [at] by 10th December 2008.

key speakers: Professor John Caldwell (UCLA), Professor William Uricchio (MIT), Charlie Mawer (Executive Creative Director, Red Bee Media)

The emergence of new media technologies in the 1990s and 2000s, specifically the rise of digital and Internet technology, has been linked to fundamental changes in the media environment, shaping newly emerging circuits of production and consumption and propagating a cultural landscape where media seem available everywhere and all the time. This AHRC-sponsored workshop examines a particular feature of our accelerated media world – the growth of the brief or ‘ephemeral’ texts that exist beyond and between the films, television programmes, and radio broadcasts more commonly isolated for analysis.

What does ephemeral mean? In the context of the workshop it connotes short-form media (i.e. texts that are no more than a few minutes long) but also media which are fleeting in the way they circulate, or that are often overlooked within mainstream academic study. ‘Ephemeral media’ offers a rubric to designate and explore some of the key strategies, forms and practices that are helping producers and publics alike to negotiate today’s fast-changing mediascape. More generally, it invites historical and theoretical reflection on the significance of screen ephemera – on those forms of screen culture that, whilst momentary, remain active components of media experience.

The second workshop in the series focuses on the promotional ephemera used by media producers to capture the attention of audiences; it considers the production of creative forms such as logos, promos, trailers and channel ‘idents’ as they have been used by media companies to make themselves (and their products) seen and heard in a competitive environment. Whilst advertising may be thought of as inherently ephemeral, corporate media producers have sought to extend ‘brands’ in powerful new ways, leading to a proliferation of fleeting, ambient and ancillary promotional forms. The workshop will explore the status and significance of these forms, in the present and the past. Foregrounding the promotional environment, or ‘surround,’ made up of logos, promos, idents and trailers, the workshop will examine the place of short-form promotional texts within industry practice and media culture.

Questions under discussion might include: What changes have occurred in the production and design of media logos, promos, idents and trailers? In what respect do promotional ephemera address audiences or function in representational or affective terms? How do promotional ephemera relate to negotiations of corporate media identity? In what particular ways do promotional ephemera help us understand developments within industrial and audiovisual culture, or illuminate specific regimes of media time and space?

The workshop is interested in, but not limited to, the following issues:

· production – creative practices, technologies, companies involved in the making of logos, promos, idents, trailers

· design – graphic histories, approaches, new and old media forms

· performance and address– projections of corporate identity and personality; promotional self-reflexivity and rhetoric

· sensory communication – the use of sound and image; audiovisual methods and strategies

· media environments – the relation of promotional ephemera to continuities/changes in the marketing and media landscape.

· consumption and appropriation – the making and unmaking of brand symbols and identities; ownership, intellectual property and cultural rights

· Memory and media literacy – The cultural life of promotional ephemera; relationships to memory and nostalgia

· critical methodologies – the means and possibilities of studying texts that fall outside the analytic focus of film and broadcast archives

Ephemeral media forms might include but are not limited to:

· Television/radio logos, idents and network branding

· Interstitial promos, sponsorships and break bumpers

· Cinema advertising

· Pre-filmic logos/sequences

· Trailers, teasers and spot advertisements (e.g. for specific film, television, radio content or the coverage of media events e.g. the Olympics)

· Branded entertainment (in particular short-form convergences between the advertising and entertainment industry e.g. BMW’s The Hire)

· Viral marketing

· Mobisodes, webisodes, podcasting, DVD extras and short-form ancillary content

· trailer mash-ups and parodies

· logo and brand appropriations