The Fringe - my BFF

Everyday branded products, from instant coffee to cars, have long been imbued by marketers with human traits as a means of appealing to consumers’ self-image. Indeed an interpersonal relationships metaphor is applied to some products, with them viewed as people – such as friends, partners, family members and even enemies. Since its origination in 1947, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has grown in a relatively organic way to become the largest and most renowned festival in the world. My talk will consider if a phenomenon like the Fringe is considered in similar interpersonal terms by its consumers as they organise, attend, support, and participate in their various stakeholder roles, from audience members to performers, and beyond. I will discuss my research where I interviewed consumers about their relationships with the Fringe. I discovered that the Fringe is viewed in numerous interpersonal terms, from casual, childhood and best friendships; to marriages and flings; and even in darker obsessive terms. My research also uncovered that many relationships with the Fringe are life-long, change over time, and can impact upon important life decisions. What does this tell us about ourselves and how we relate to something which is neither another human being nor a valued product, but an experience?