Storm over the Starship: A Geosemiotic Analysis of Brand Co-ownership: Denise M. Conroy and Richard W. Brookes
This chapter examines the co-branding of a children’s hospital by adopting a geosemiotic perspective. Geosemiotics is the study of the social meaning of the material placement of signs in the world. By “signs” we mean to include any semiotic system including language and discourse. Essentially, it is the study of the indexicality of the material world (Scollon and Scollon, 2003). Indexicality, action and identity are all anchored in the physical spaces and real times of our material world (Scollon and Scollon, 2003), and in conducting this analysis our aim is to demonstrate how different parties can come to interpret the same event in very different ways. The event we will focus on was played out in the New Zealand media when the Auckland Regional Health Board (ARHB) attempted to transition the Starship Children’s Hospital (Starship) from its status as a New Zealand Iconic Brand to a cost center run on economic values. This transition included renaming it the Auckland Children’s Health Department. Our contribution to the theory of geosemiotics is in showing that public buildings, as well as signs, can be analyzed contextually in their physical and social environments in order to derive a social meaning.