The agency of things!The willard Hotel in D.C. The ‘agency’ of things? This is the Willard Hotel in Washington; if you look closely you can see it is on a famous street, and I walked past it when I was at a conference recently. Nothing remarkable, I know…but then I saw a placard on the wall (indeed there were at least six of them) and it changed both my view of, and reaction to this building. Lincoln stayed there just prior to his inauguration and Martin Luther king wrote, or at least finalised, his ‘I have a dream’ speech whilst staying here. (And, because I counted, I can tell you that it takes almost exactly 15 minutes to walk from the front door of this hotel to the very spot King stood -in front of the Lincoln memorial – to deliver that highly consequential speech). A President with the name of the Ulysses spent much time in the bars of the hotel and, allegedly, it became the place to meet and influence him – hence the term lobbyist as it was in the hotel lobby that such advocacy often took place. (This is rather odd because Ulysses, the book, is the story of a single day – 16th June 1904 – the same day, some 105 years later, that I wrote this little think piece!! Anyway to the point of this story….. My reaction to the plaques… suddenly I had to go inside, I wanted to spend time in the place; I wanted to see if I could ‘feel’, or in any other way, sense an atmosphere. And I ended up indulging in a VERY expensive drink so that I could spend time in the lobby. So what? An example of ‘actor network theory’ being actualised? The power of imagination in our lives, leading, in this case, to a new, richer, consumption experience. And, a great example of how events coupled with the ‘gold dust’ of history is commodified. Do you have any more examples? Here is the famous lobby of the hotel
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Is a senior lecturer in marketing communications at Bournemouth University. He holds a PhD from the London School of Economics on the meanings that consumers ascribe to their consumer and political choice practices. His research to date has focused on advertising, consumer choice and how consumer culture and civic culture inter-relate. He has published in a range of international journals including Advances in Consumer Research, European Journal of Marketing and the Journal of Marketing Management.