Sponsoring Shakespeare

  • Susan Bennett


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.


Cultural Institution British Museum Science Museum African National Congress Deepwater Horizon 
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Select Bibliography

  1. Bate, Jonathan and Dora Thornton (2012) Shakespeare: Staging the World (London: British Museum Press).Google Scholar
  2. Evans, Mel (2015) Artwash: Big Oil and the Arts (London: Pluto Press).Google Scholar
  3. Goldfarb, Martin and Howard Aster (2010) Affinity: Beyond Branding (Toronto: MacArthur & Company).Google Scholar
  4. McLuskie, Kate and Kate Rumbold (2014) Cultural Value in Twenty-first Century England: The Case of Shakespeare (Manchester: Manchester University Press).Google Scholar
  5. Prescott, Paul and Erin Sullivan (eds) (2015) Shakespeare on the Global Stage: Performance and Festivity in the Olympic Year (London: Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare).Google Scholar
  6. Wu, Chin-Tao (2002) Privatising Culture: Corporate Art Intervention since the 1980s (London: Verso).Google Scholar

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan Bennett

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