“More than just film” : rebranding independence on IFC
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In 2010, IFC (formerly Independent Film Channel) underwent a major rebrand campaign, which included a redesigned logo, tagline, and channel name; a transition to ad-supported programming and airing films with commercial interruptions; a reliance on original scripted comedy series; an emphasis on so-called 'blockbuster' indies over lesser-known films; and a general de-emphasis of independent film as the core of the brand identity. The features of the rebrand closely mirrored actions already taken by other film-based cable channels, most notably IFC's current parent channel, AMC (formerly American Movie Classics). In refashioning the IFC brand identity, IFC executives seized upon the instability of the term independent within existing discourses around independent film and music production and constructed a looser definition -- one that was no longer rooted in independent film and also hailed a very specific gendered, raced, and classed audience in order to attract new advertisers. This project contextualizes IFC's pre- and post-rebrand brand identity within the American independent film and music movements that began in the late 1980s and continued into the 1990s before analyzing the paratextual means through which the post-2010 IFC brand identity has been constructed, including upfront presentations, trade press coverage, press releases, on-air promotional spots, materials for prospective advertisers, images from graphic design agency portfolios, and IFC employee instructional guides on the use of language and image following the rebrand. Finally, this project examines how IFC has constructed its niche cable viewership following the rebrand in order to deliver the traditional commodity audience to its advertisers. Together, these analyses form a compelling look at the shifting discourses of independent cultural production and how independent-ness is situated within IFC's construction of a niche cable brand identity.