Journal of Historical Research in Marketing

ISSN: 1755-750X

Article publication date: 27 April 2012



Jones, B. (2012), "Editorial", Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, Vol. 4 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/jhrm.2012.41204baa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Article Type: Editorial From: Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, Volume 4, Issue 2

Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence – 2011 winners

The annual Literati Awards for Excellence celebrate the achievement of our authors and highlight the outstanding quality of the papers published in the Journal of Historical Research in Marketing. For articles published in JHRM, Volume 3 (2011) the Outstanding Paper Award was earned by Ronald Fullerton for his article “Historical methodology: the perspective of a professionally-trained historian turned marketer”. Fullerton’s was the lead article in issue number four, a special issue on historical methods and historical research in marketing. He really captured the essence of what we were trying to accomplish with that special issue – to introduce non-historians to the basic issues of doing historical research as they relate specifically to marketing. Fullerton discusses the need for good writing, the value of primary source material, the importance of historical context and of a critical reading of source materials, and the key issues of interpretation and explanation in historical analysis.

Emerald also sponsors for each of their journals three Highly Commended Awards and those JHRM winners for Volume 3 (2011) were Robert Tamilia’s “The timeless intellectual contributions of Donald F. Dixon” in issue one; Paul Christ and Rolph Anderson for “The impact of technology on evolving roles of salespeople” in issue two; and Barry Boothman for “Mammoth market: the transformation of food retailing in Canada, 1946-1965” published in issue three.

Two members of the JHRM Editorial Advisory Board were also honored with Outstanding Reviewer Awards – Leighann Neilson of Carleton University, and Ben Wooliscroft of the University of Otago.

Congratulations to all and thank you for contributing to the success of the Journal of Historical Research in Marketing.

In this issue

Much has been written about the history of the iconic brand, Coca-Cola. However, little has been written about the history of brand protection and what better example to study in that connection than the considerable efforts of the Coca-Cola Company? In our lead article, Ross Petty examines hundreds of trademark infringement challenges brought before the courts and the US Patent and Trademark Office by Coca-Cola prior to the Second World War and develops a tripartite system of categories of such challenges organized by primary legal issue. Petty’s article, “Coca-Cola brand protection before World War II – it’s the real thing!” is a fascinating historical study that provides a useful model for other modern brands. One of the unsung heroes of marketing is packaging and, again, very little has been published about the history of packaging as a marketing tool. Diana Twede is clearly identified with that small but important field of work and in this issue Twede contributes “The birth of modern packaging: cartons, cans and bottles”, that focuses on the critical period from 1879 to 1903 when the processes for making food packages using these three materials were almost simultaneously mechanized by American inventor/entrepreneurs Robert Gair, Edwin Norton and Michael Owens respectively. In “Upholding whose values? Australia’s advertising standards bodies, 1974 – 2009”, Robert Crawford and Ruth Spence-Stone use annual reports and period press coverage to compare the activities of the Australian Advertising Standards Council and it successor, the Advertising Standards Board and identify key issues that have confronted Australia’s advertising regulation bodies. Crawford and Spence-Stone raise serious questions about self-regulation and the way it has served the Australian advertising industry’s interests ahead of the public interest.

When I first read the reviews of Stephen Brown and Christopher Hackley’s “The greatest showman on earth: is Simon Cowell P.T. Barnum reborn?”, I knew that here was a paper with multiple layers of meaning that could generate some sparks. The invited commentaries and rejoinder that follow in our Explorations & Insights section of this issue delivered just that – multiple interpretations by, and fireworks between, three outstanding scholars. I am sure that the resulting collection of four papers will provide readers with lessons about marketing history as well as about historical scholarship - and will do so in an entertaining way. Stephen Brown is well known for his provocative writing style. He is a critic with a sense of humor. In “The greatest showman on earth: is Simon Cowell P.T. Barnum reborn?”, Brown and Hackley dismiss accepted wisdom about the biases of the great man paradigm in history and the simplistic notion that history repeats itself, and then proceed to use those same disreputable historical concepts to “stress test the contention that Simon Cowell is Barnum reborn”. Our authors note seven broad similarities between these two celebrated marketing geniuses whose careers are separated by some 150 years. According to Brown and Hackley, vulgarity, hyperbole, rivalry, publicity, duplicity, liminality, and history were key ingredients of Barnum’s and of Cowell’s tremendous marketing successes. They then admit, “the foregoing Barnum/Cowell comparison is an impudent act of misrepresentation, an exercise in biographical cherry-picking which selects the evidence to suit the argument and conveniently ignores the rest”. However, they also remind us that “by its very nature, history is a cherry-picking exercise, though this is not to imply that the picking process is necessarily unprincipled or fraudulent”. It is here that the stress test moves from the similarities of Barnum and Cowell to the reasons why the great man theory of history and the search for patterns in history continue their hold on popular imagination despite being denounced by generations of professional historians. For Brown and Hackley’s answers to those questions, you will have to read their article. One of their conclusions is that historical analysis is an interpretive act of selection, sifting, shaping, and synthesizing the “facts” of history into an intellectually satisfying, persuasive story. The commentaries in our E&I section explore those two themes: the methodology of historical research, and historiography or the writing of history.

Explorations and insights

Alan Richardson opens the E&I in this issue using Brown and Hackley to explore the merits of strategies such as the use of metaphor, rhetorical style, and contribution to theory – as means of meeting the demand for social relevance and to appeal to a broader audience. Richardson makes the case that in their zeal to write an intellectually satisfying, persuasive story, Brown and Hackley resort to some of the same tactics used by Barnum and Cowell; that in their desire to make history more accessible, they rely on journalistic styles of rhetoric and popular metaphor that challenge the norms of historical research – and that they (Brown and Hackley) do this in order to get noticed. Ironically, Richardson closes his argument using some of the same metaphor and rhetoric.

Mark Tadajewski delves into the ontological, epistemological, and methodological assumptions he sees in Brown’s work of which the Brown and Hackley article about Barnum and Cowell is just one application. Tadajewski peels back the layers of the Barnum and Cowell story to explore a broader body of work written by Stephen Brown that, in Tadajewski’s view, questions and criticizes logical empiricist marketing science. Tadajewski uses his interpretation of Brown’s “project” to “question the notion of history we adopt” when doing historical research. Favoring pluralism, Tadajewski argues THE history that would be written by logical empiricism should be supplemented by the histories written by interpretive scholars and critical marketing scholars.

Lost in all this debate about historiography and historical methodology is the marketing history that emerges from Brown and Hackley’s study of Barnum and Cowell. As we might expect, their answer to the question about reincarnation is, of course, yes and no. In his rejoinder to Richardson and Tadajewski, Brown wonders what all the fuss is about, claiming that the Barnum-Cowell story was simply an attempt to “pen a squib about Barnum and Cowell”. Ever the entertaining critic, Brown hints at a ruse when his title paraphrases P.T. Barnum with “there’s a scholar born every minute”. Is there something deeper there? You be the judge.

Brian Jones

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