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The pursuit of newness: Advertising, creativity and the 'narcissism of minor differences'

Nixon, S (2006) 'The pursuit of newness: Advertising, creativity and the 'narcissism of minor differences'.' Cultural Studies, 20 (1). 89 - 106. ISSN 0950-2386

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Abstract

The paper draws on research conducted in the late 1990s into the workplace cultures of London-based advertising agencies and the subjective identities of a group of young, largely male art directors and copywriters (Nixon 2003). The paper explores how these practitioners used the trope of creativity to describe the work they performed and considers what was at stake in their easy but insistent recourse to the term. It suggests that their extraordinary valorising of creativity was bound up with the extrapolation from quite small degrees of different-ness in the work they produced or strove to produce. In this sense, their cult of creativity was partly bound up with a 'narcissism of minor differences' in which creative teams sought to differentiate themselves from each other in the advertising that they generated. Furthermore, the valorisation of creativity was tied up less, in this sense, with making a client's product stand out - the manifest commercial reason for finding new ways of communicating with consumers - so much as with drawing attention to the creative teams in an intensely competitive occupation. The pursuit of newness also often came to be bound up with struggles over genres and genre hierarchies that themselves become coded in generational terms. Young creatives would ally themselves with 'newness' in order to challenge more established colleagues. We might read into this pursuit of newness and creativity, then, a strategy of distinction and position taking by differently placed practitioners over the accumulation of recognition and status and its conversion into tangible economic rewards. As such the cult of creativity amongst these creative people formed part of the cultivation of a distinct habitus in this 'talent-led' field of cultural production in which speaking the language and pursuing the signs of creativity was central to the successful shaping of an identity at work. © 2006 Taylor & Francis.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Elena Pupaza
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2015 14:30
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2019 16:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/10601

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