Dr Susie Khamis is Senior Lecturer in Public Communication. Her doctoral thesis ‘Bushells and the Cultural Logic of Branding’ won the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Heritage Prize in 2007, and in 2011 she was founding editor of Locale: The Australasian-Pacific Journal of Regional Food Studies. Her research areas are branding, representations of cultural diversity, and consumer cultures. She has published widely in these areas and her current research focuses on how successful global brands represent cultural diversity in their marketing media.
Member Associations: Small Island Cultures Research Initiative (2006-); Popular Culture Association of Australia & New Zealand (2010-); Regional Food Research Network of Australasia (2011-); Centre for Media History (2012-)
Awards: Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority Heritage Prize (2007); Macquarie University Research Award for Areas & Centres of Excellence (2003); University of Western Australia Iain Brash History Prize (2003)
Can supervise: YES
Branding, cultural diversity, consumer culture
Media Theory, Public Communication, Advertising
Khamis, S 2019, '‘There’s nothing wrong with the picture’: representations of diversity through cultural branding', Media International Australia, vol. 172, no. 1, pp. 89-102.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© The Author(s) 2019. To attract consumers ever more distracted and dispersed, and achieve cultural resonance, brand advertisers increasingly speak to discourses of diversity. These representations are often contentious, particularly when they refer to certain aspects of contemporary identity politics. As these controversies play out on social media such as Facebook, they reveal key insights into branding today: the discursive volatility that shadows representations of diversity, asymmetries of communicative power between brands and consumers in online discussions and the extent to which representations of diversity are rendered more or less divisive depending on their proximity to already existing anxieties and/or resistance. This article contextualises this interplay through three Australian brand campaigns from late 2015 to early 2016 and shows how social media further problematise what was an already dynamic, tense and dialectical relationship between consumers and brands.
Khamis, S 2019, 'The aestheticization of restraint: The popular appeal of de-cluttering after the global financial crisis', JOURNAL OF CONSUMER CULTURE, vol. 19, no. 4, pp. 513-531.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis GroupThe notion of self-branding has drawn myriad academic responses over the last decade. First popularised in a provocative piece published in Fast Company, self-branding has been criticised by some on theoretical, practical and ethical grounds, while others have endorsed and propelled the idea. This article considers how and why the concept of self-branding has become so prevalent. We contend that it parallels the growth of digital technology (particularly social media) embedded in the current political climate: neoliberal individualism. Another objective here is to imbue the concept of self-branding with a marketing perspective and show how the ‘celebrities’ of self-branding manifest at a marketing media nexus distinct to the opening decades of the twenty-first century. Building on literature from mostly media and cultural studies, this critique sees self-branding as a distortion of key branding principles that has obvious implications for its practitioners and advocates. The article shows that, despite inherent tensions and problematic ironies, self-branding persists through the rise of Social Media Influencers; we consider three of these whose fame and following was achieved via the practices and phenomena under consideration.
Khamis, S 2016, 'The ironic marketing of heritage and nostalgia: the branding of Bushells tea, 1983-c.1990', Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 358-374.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2016, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Purpose: This study aims to examine and contextualize the growing salience of nostalgic motifs in the promotion of Bushells Tea from the early 1980s to the early 1990s. It aims to analyze the ironic foregrounding of a rural aesthetic as a strategic evasion of growing concerns in popular media about the globalization of the Australian economy and the concomitant “takeover” of iconic Australian brands, including Bushells, by multinational corporations. Design/methodology/approach: This article draws on three main materials: a collection of Bushells advertisements (from newspapers, magazines and television), promotional materials, rare press clippings and company memos/briefs, which were loaned to the author for the purposes of this research by Unilever Australasia (Sydney, Australia); contemporary press reports that document popular reactions to the rapid globalization of the Australian economy in the early 1990s; and biographies of key personnel and organizations. Findings: Despite its gradual takeover by a multinational corporation, the Bushells brand was marketed in ways that evoked an “authentic” and nostalgic nationalism through imagery that drew on the nation’s rural past, reproduced a rustic aesthetic and sentimentalized a pre-globalized era. Originality/value: This article constitutes original interdisciplinary analysis of how one of Australia’s most iconic and historically dominant brands (Bushells Tea) was marketed during one of the most tumultuous periods in its history. Through examination of rare archival material and contemporary press reports, the analysis makes a valuable contribution to the understanding of brand marketing history in Australia.
Khamis, S & Hayward, P 2015, 'Fleeting and Partial Autonomy: A historical account of quasi-micronational initiatives on Lundy Island and their contemporary reconfiguration on MicroWiki', Shima: the international journal of research into island cultures, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 69-84.
Over the past decade, Timor-Leste has aimed to identify and execute numerous peace-building and state-building initiatives. Central to the country’s strategic development plan is the careful management of its resources and exports. While the development of downstream industries in the oil and gas sector is the tiny nation’s strongest source of revenue, rehabilitation of its coffee sector has also been flagged for development. Although a relatively small player in the global coffee trade—producing under 0.2 percent of the global coffee supply—Timor-Leste’s coffee sector enjoys one comparative advantage: it constitutes the largest single-source producer of organic coffee in the world. However, despite attempts to boost this sector’s viability through fair-trade partnerships and development-oriented agents, the complex interplay of myriad structural bulwarks shows just how formidable the challenge facing Timor-Leste is. This phenomenon is situated within the fraught history of Timor-Leste and the current plight of its coffee sector sits within a larger narrative of extreme deprivation and asymmetries of power. This article thus considers the limits of fair-trade organic coffee exports to address Timor-Leste’s acute poverty.
Khamis, S 2013, 'Mastering the Brand: how 'ordinary' cooks achieve extraordinary (cookbook) success', TEXT: Journal of Writing and Writing Programs, no. 24, pp. 1-8.
Since 2009, Masterchef Australia has been a ratings and marketing juggernaut.
Through numerous product placements and associated merchandise, it has become one
of the most lucrative brands in Australia’s bourgeoning food-related media. While
contestants’ cooking prowess and flair for ‘plating’ are ostensibly central to the show’s
appeal, Masterchef Australia also draws from the more general conventions of reality
television. For instance, contestants inevitably display more than their skills in the
kitchen; they reveal (some say contrive) aspects of their personal lives that render them
more or less attractive to viewers. This article considers how the winner of the
inaugural series, Julie Goodwin, fashioned an endearing persona that was both relatable
and inspirational. Her ‘everywoman’ image informed both her television journey –
from ‘ordinary mum’ to series winner – as well as her various forays into various
commercial projects, not the least of which were best-selling cookbooks.
In May 2010 the Australian government launched “Australia Unlimited”, a four-year Austrade campaign to sell Brand Australia. Logistically and politically, Brand Australia is a delicate proposition, since it calls for consistency and coherence, as well as consensus. Given that nations are already “messy”, politically, culturally and socially, any symbolic representation designed to resolve or mask this mess would be contentious. Brand Australia thus constitutes a fragile, highly contingent but, according to government bureaus, economically necessary strategy: globalisation compels nations to flag their strengths with clarity and in competition. Brand logic entails that these strengths are folded into a single and stable message. In the case of Australia, though, certain images have contributed to perceptions of the nation that clash with those of “Australia Unlimited”. The history of Australia's tourism campaigns has played a part in this, as have specific events in Australia's recent history. As an idealised national narrative, then, there is a fundamental problem with this campaign: it speaks of a cosmopolitan multiculturalism that is absent from other, more dominant representations of the nation, a disjuncture that undermines the premise and potential of effective brand management.
Khamis, S 2012, 'Nespresso: Branding the "Ultimate Coffee Experience"', M/C Journal, vol. 15, no. 2.
In December 2010, Nespresso, the world’s leading brand of premium-portioned coffee, opened a flagship “boutique” in Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall. This was Nespresso’s fifth boutique opening of 2010, after Brussels, Miami, Soho, and Munich. The Sydney debut coincided with the mall’s upmarket redevelopment, which explains Nespresso’s arrival in the city: strategic geographic expansion is key to the brand’s growth. Rather than panoramic ubiquity, a retail option favoured by brands like McDonalds, KFC and Starbucks, Nespresso opts for iconic, prestigious locations. This strategy has been highly successful: since 2000 Nespresso has recorded year-on-year per annum growth of 30 per cent. This has been achieved, moreover, despite a global financial downturn and an international coffee market replete with brand variety. In turn, Nespresso marks an evolution in the coffee market over the last decade.
After the national election win of the Liberal National Coalition in March 1996, Australia experienced more than ten years of contentious public debate. Discussions about Australia's history and future raged with an intensity that both highlighted and problematized the very notion of national identity. During this period, the television commercials for tea brand Bushells paralleled changes in Australia's political culture. In various ways, events of epochal significance, both in Australia and abroad, surfaced in the brand's promotions. These campaigns not only showed the increasing difficulty of picturing Australianness; they also showed that, no matter how fragmented Australian culture became, there remained a lingering bias to certain images, ideals and values. As the Australian electorate became more insular, parochial and conservative, Bushells followed suit. This article considers how Bushells drew symbolic markers from popular culture – the worlds of celebrity, sport, cinema and so on – in a bid to remain relevant, endearing and likeable. It therefore shows that, for a commodity as basic as tea, much can be gleaned about the contemporary political mood through the vernacular rhetoric of television advertising.
Khamis, S 2011, '"Lundy's hard work": branding, biodiversity and a "unique island experience"', Shima : The International Journal of Research into Island Cultures, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 1-23.
Over the last 15 years, the island of Lundy has become increasingly associated with
important conservation projects, particularly in regards to its biodiversity. At the same
time, the island’s appeal continues to be channeled through a well-worn discourse of
‘untouched’, ‘unspoiled’ islandness – or a generic charm that is popularly attributed to
small islands (Grydehoj, 2008). This article shows that this perception is highly
misplaced, and fails to take stock of the considerable effort that goes into managing
Lundy. If anything, Lundy’s growing profile constitutes effective place branding (Anholt,
2008), whereby various stakeholders strive towards a cohesive and coherent strategy.
This article considers the history of Lundy as well as decisions made by seminal
individuals and organisations, particularly the Landmark Trust, and shows that Lundy’s
management carefully acknowledges tourism opportunities and environmentalist
objectives. The Lundy brand is thus an ideal example of small-island branding in the
21st Century as its marketing both acknowledges and incorporates principles of
Khamis, S 2010, 'An image worth bottling: The branding of King Island Cloud Juice', International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 434-446.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The Cloud Juice brand of bottled water parlays the conventional image of a small island - in this case, King Island - into a popularly agreeable narrative of prestige, purity and ecological responsibility. Whilst this is not the first or only brand of bottled water to exploit the exotic appeal of islandness, Cloud Juice has a particular advantage: much like King Island, its appeal rests less on some hackneyed clichè than a shrewd manipulation of small-scale production and big-picture politics. There is a very close fit between the marketing of Cloud Juice as 'gourmet and green' and the growing recognition of King Island as a site of environmental innovation. This article shows that such symmetry bodes well for both branding in general and the branding of bottled water in particular. © 2010 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.
Khamis, S 2010, 'Braving the Burqini: re-branding the Australian beach', Cultural Geographies, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 379-390.
Khamis, S 2010, 'The Three Cs of Fashion Media Today: Convergence, Creativity and Control', Scan: Journal of Media Arts Culture, vol. 8, no. 2.
In 1928, Australia was, per capita, the world's leading tea-drinking nation. This began to change after the Second World War, as Nestlé popularized the first product that could challenge Australians' commitment to tea: Nescafé instant coffee. In various ways, Nescafé embodied several of the most fashionable discourses of the postwar period. This article considers various advertisements that Nestlé used to promote Nescafé and shows that, despite the deep hold that tea had over Australians, Nescafé proved a powerful contender. In short, it symbolized modern convenience, American glamour and demographic shifts. As such, the burgeoning popularity of Nescafé shows that, as much as tea's place was tied to an overwhelmingly British heritage, so too was Nescafé's rise linked to similarly profound developments. Moreover, with its reputation for research and innovation already established in Australia, Nestlé was ideally positioned to endear a nation of tea-drinkers to what had once been widely ignored.
Khamis, S 2009, 'Thrift, Sacrifice and Bushells Tea: One brand's strategy in the early 1930s', History Australia, vol. 6, no. 1.
Khamis, S 2007, 'Gourmet and Green: Branding King Island', Shima: the international journal of research into island cultures, vol. 1, no. 2.
Khamis, S 2006, 'A Taste for Tea: How tea traveled to (and through) Australian Culture', Australian Cultural History, vol. 24, pp. 57-79.
Khamis, S 2006, 'Island dreams and the cultural politics of small island cuisine', Refereed Papers from the 2nd International Small Island Cultures Conference.
Khamis, S 2005, '"I'd rather take Methadone than Ken Done": Branding Sydney in the 1980s', Scan: Journal of Media Arts Culture, vol. 2, no. 1.
Khamis, S 2004, 'Mambo Justice: An Unnatural Alliance?', Altitude: A Journal of Emerging Humanities Work, vol. 4.
Khamis, S 2003, 'Dick Smith and American Pie: the Great Divide?', Limina: a journal of historical and cultural studies, vol. 9, pp. 18-37.
Khamis, S 2003, 'Jamming at work', M/C: A Journal of Media and Culture, no. June.
Baldacchino, G & Khamis, S 2018, 'Brands and branding' in Baldacchino, G (ed), The International Handbook of Island Studies A World of Islands, Routledge, London, pp. 368-380.
This insightful Handbook will appeal to geographers, environmentalists, sociologists, political scientists and, one hopes, some of the 600 million or so people who live on islands or are interested in the rich dynamics of islands and island ...
Prodanovic, B & Khamis, S 2018, 'Representing the veil in contemporary Australian media: From 'ban the burqa' to 'hijabi' bloggers' in The Routledge International Handbook to Veils and Veiling, Routledge, UK, pp. 125-136.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This chapter surveys how some assumptions have framed veiled Muslim women in Australia's mainstream media, with the recurrence of certain motifs and narratives tied to burgeoning unease around Islam's compatibility with Australian values. The treatment of veiled Muslim women in Australia sits within a wider story about how Islam has been depicted over last few decades in predominantly non-Muslim nations, in particular: the UK, the USA, Australia and parts of Western Europe. In Australia, calls for a 'burqa ban' have featured most prominently on news and current affairs programmes on commercial television, especially Today Tonight, Sunday Night and A Current Affair. The 'Faith Fashion Fusion' exhibition in 2013, a showcase of Muslim women's style in Australia, was the first time a major cultural venue both spotlighted practices of veiling and gave a voice to veiled Australian women. Australia's hijabi bloggers represent the cultural creativity that is required in the postmillennial digital economy.
Khamis, S 2016, 'Brand IKEA in a Global Cultural Economy: A Case Study' in Muratovski, G (ed), Consumer Culture: Selected Essays, Intellect Ltd, Bristol, pp. 159-172.
Khamis, S 2015, 'Absolutely Ethical? Irony, subversion and prescience in Absolutely Fabulous' in Hulme, A (ed), Consumerism on TV: Popular Media from the 1950s to the Present, Ashgate Publishing Limited, Surrey, pp. 53-70.
Khamis, S & Lambert, A 2015, 'Effeminacy and Expertise, Excess and Equality: Gay Best Friends as Consumers and Commodities in Contemporary Television' in Hulme, A (ed), Consumerism on TV: Popular Media from the 1950s to the Present, Ashgate Publishing Limited, Surrey, pp. 109-126.
Khamis, S 2010, 'Class in a Tea Cup: The Bushels Brand, 1895-1920' in Crawford, R, Humphery, K & Smart, J (eds), Consumer Australia: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Cambridge, pp. 13-26.
Khamis, S 2009, 'Lebanese Muslims Speak Back: Two Films by Tom Zubrycki' in Simpson, C, Murawska, R & Lambert, A (eds), Diasporas of Australian Cinema, Intellect, London, pp. 147-157.
Kennedy, G, Corrin, L, Lockyer, L, Dawson, S, Williams, D, Mulder, R, Khamis, S & Copeland, S 2014, 'Completing the loop: returning learning analytics to teachers', Rhetoric and Reality: Critical perspectives on educational technology. Proceedings, Annual Conference of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education, ASCILITE, Dunedin, pp. 436-440.