Design Strategy Through a Turnerian Lens

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    I argue that in 2004, Mars’ ‘Kingsize Chocolate Bar’ became characterised as a culturally constructed cause of obesity in the UK. Mars reacted by redesigning its large bar. In this discussion, cultural theory developed by the anthropologist Victor Turner provides a lens through which to view Mars’ design strategy. Turner argues that when protagonists transit from a ‘state’ of being to a contrasting state, this movement occurs through culturally prescribed means. I argue that Mars’ design strategy helped move its large bar from being associated with the undesirable state of ‘danger’ to the desirable state of ‘safety’ and that this transition facilitated the continued survival of the redesigned product. Accordingly, Mars’ designers are framed as mediating the transition between Turnerian states. Beyond discussion on chocolate, Turner’s cultural theory may be used to construct a model to inform design strategy in a wider sense. Accordingly, this paper supports calls to provide future designers (design students) with more instruction on cultural issues as this may increase the commercial success of their creations in professional practice. This move may create contradictions between commercial and ethical imperatives. In concluding, I argue that exploration of associated ethical dilemmas should accompany the delivery of cultural knowledge.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 19th DMI
    Subtitle of host publicationAcademic Design Management Conference
    EditorsErik Bohemia, Alison Rieple, Jeanne Liedtka, Rachel Cooper
    Place of PublicationBoston
    PublisherDesign Management Institute
    ISBN (Print)978-0-615-99152-8
    Publication statusPublished - 12 Sept 2014
    EventDMI: 19th Academic Design Management Conference - London, United Kingdom
    Duration: 2 Sept 20144 Sept 2014
    Conference number: 19


    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


    • Victor Turner
    • Design and Ritual Symbolism
    • Obesity
    • Design and Cultural Constructs
    • Design Education
    • Mars chocolate


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