There is, by now, a long critical history of how Shakespeare has been appropriated and performed in advertising campaigns for a remarkable diversity of consumer products, from StarKist canned tuna to easyJet’s low-cost air travel, from Red Bull energy drinks to Google+.1 Even more commonplace is the analysis of how the Bard is deployed to promote cultural institutions and places involved directly in the production of his works. In this context, Shakespeare’s role in cultural tourism has been particularly well documented, and not just in the obvious locations of Stratford-upon-Avon and London, but in festival cities such as Stratford, Ontario and Ashland, Oregon.2 Against the backdrop of this expansive Shakespeare ‘industry’, Kate McLuskie and Kate Rumbold have explored whether Shakespeare can rightly be considered a ‘brand’, suggesting that what is at stake ‘is the question of how Shakespeare’s value is constructed and conferred in commercial settings’.3 I am interested here in taking up the notion of value in practices of corporate sponsorship. In particular, I want to explore how value was assumed and attained by Shakespeare’s presence in the Cultural Olympiad attached to London 2012 and, specifically, the relationship of his ‘brand’ to corporate sponsors for both the arts programming and the larger sporting event.
KeywordsCultural Institution British Museum Science Museum African National Congress Deepwater Horizon
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