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Artists as cultural icons: the icon myth transfer effect as a heuristic for cultural branding

Joseph L. Scarpaci (Center for the Study of Cuban Culture + Economy, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA)
Eloise Coupey (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA)
Sara Desvernine Reed (Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Article publication date: 14 May 2018




Communicating the national values of artists and the role of product benefits as symbols of national values, infuse iconic national brands. This paper aims to validate a conceptual framework that offers empirical insights for cultural identity that drives brand management.


Case studies and cross-cultural focus group research establish the present study’s conceptual framework for cultural branding.


Brand awareness of a perfume named after a Cuban dancer and a spirit named for a Chilean poet, reflect authentic emblems of national identity. Informants’ behavior confirms the study’s model of icon myth transfer effect as a heuristic for cultural branding with clear, detailed and unprompted references to the myths and brands behind these heroines.

Research limitations/implications

The study’s ethnography shows how artists reflect myth and folklore in iconic brands. Future research should assess whether the icon myth transfer effect as a heuristic for cultural branding occurs with cultural icons beyond the arts and transcends national boundaries.

Practical implications

The study challenges conventional branding, where the brand is the myth, and the myth reflects the myth market. The authors show how the myth connects to a national identity yet exists independently of the brand. The branding strategy ties the brand to the existing myth, an alternative route for cultural branding mediated by the icon myth transfer effect.

Social implications

These two Latin American brands provide a much-needed connection among the branding literatures and images surrounding gender and nationalism in lesser-known markets.


Most research explores iconic myths, brands and folklore in one country. This study extends cultural branding through social history and by testing a conceptual model that establishes how myths embody nation-specific values. Iconic myths are a heuristic for understanding and describing brands, revealing an unexamined path for cultural branding.



The authors would like to thank the Virginia Tech Statistical Applications and Innovations Group (SAIG) for assistance with the parts of this paper. Joseph L. Scarpaci acknowledge's fieldwork support for the Aarhus Institute for Advanced Studies (AIAS), Aarhus University, Denmark.


Scarpaci, J.L., Coupey, E. and Reed, S.D. (2018), "Artists as cultural icons: the icon myth transfer effect as a heuristic for cultural branding", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 27 No. 3, pp. 320-333.



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