Nascar Nation: Branding the American Landscape

By Rebecca Davis-Kelly.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The art of graphic communication has played a significant role in shaping the cultural landscape of the urban environment. In particular, corporations, in their rush to fill every last surface and unclaimed airwave, have turned our environment into relentless advertising space. The public may take advantage of sporting events, concerts, museum exhibits, theater experiences — practically any form of entertainment or public activity in the urban landscape — but must understand that it is being taken advantage of as well. The constant exposure to logos, signs, bulletins, brochures, even the names of the events and venues themselves must begin to affect the psyche and behavior of the audience members. Or does it? Is this practice something we merely accept as a necessary cost of our entertainment pursuits? Is it something that has deeper-reaching effects on the subconscious of the public, defining our values and shaping our culture? The author explores the invasion of corporate branding into our environment by proposing a potentially controversial scenario. Taking the practice to a new extreme by infusing capitalist concerns into formerly unadulterated areas ultimately confronts the audience with the key question, “How far is too far?” The purpose of this study is to determine whether or not the public finds this treatment of its culture and landscape inappropriate, and, if so, where a line should be drawn and how it can be enforced.

Keywords: Graphic Design, Branding, Logos, Ethics, Culture, Corporate Sponsorship

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.51-70. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 3.008MB).

Prof. Rebecca Davis-Kelly

Assistant Professor, College of Architecture, Art and Design, Graphic Design, Mississippi State University, Misssissippi, USA

Rebecca Davis-Kelly was a former graduate student at the University of North Texas and is currently an assistant professor of graphic design at Mississippi State University and partners in a small graphic design studio working on such as clients as Frito-Lay, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Campbell’s, Hasbro Toys and Southwest Airlines. Her research agenda involves advocating for the ethics and responsibilities of graphic designers, and is also concerned with the level of corporate involvement in our everyday lives. With all of those agendas combined, (and quoting one of her favorite professors) it is her mission to prove to the world that graphic designers can do more than sell toothpaste.


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