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Titanic: Consuming the Myths and Meanings of an Ambiguous Brand
Journal of Consumer Research
  • Stephen Brown
  • Pierre McDonagh
  • Clifford J Shultz, Loyola University Chicago
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Myths have come of age in consumer research. In the 22 years since Levy’s inaugural article, the literature has grown at an impressive rate. Yet important questions remain unanswered: What makes some myths especially meaningful to consumers? Why are certain consumer myths more prevalent and less perishable than others? This article argues that ambiguity is an influential factor. Using the RMS Titanic as an empirical exemplar, it unpacks the principal forms of myth-informed ambiguity surrounding “the unsinkable brand.” Predicated on William Empson’s hitherto unsung principles of literary criticism, the article posits that ambiguity in its multifaceted forms is integral to outstanding branding and consumer meaning making, as well as myth appeal more generally.

Author Posting. © 2013 by Journal of Consumer Research, Inc. This article is posted here by permission of the Journal of Consumer Research for personal use, not for redistribution. The article was published in Journal of Consumer Research, Volume 40, Issue 4, December 2013.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0
Citation Information
Brown, S, McDonagh, P, and Shultz CJ. "Titanic: consuming the myths and meanings of an ambiguous brand" in Journal of Consumer Research 40(4), 2013.