Mendoza School of Business

John Sherry wins outstanding paper award for American Girl research

Published: May 26, 2010 / Author: Carol Elliott

University of Notre Dame Marketing Professor John F. Sherry Jr.’s research into the American Girl brand and how toymaker Mattel fostered a lifestyle around the high-end dolls won a 2009 Emerald Management Reviews Citation of Excellence Award.  Emerald Group Publishing Limited bestows the distinguished annual award, now in its 14th year, in recognition of the 50 outstanding articles published by the top 400 management journals in the world.

“Receiving a Citation of Excellence Award is a truly prestigious achievement,” said Debbie Spurgeon, Emerald Executive Editor. “There are over 15,000 article reviews added annually to the database and so being recognized as one of the top 50 is a real accolade.”

The award recipients are determined by the Emerald Management Reviews Accreditation Board, comprised of management experts from industry and academia who select the world’s top 400 management titles. Independent subject experts then make a rigorous assessment of every article in each of these journals to select the winners. Authors of the top articles receive an official certificate and badge to display on their work.

A full list of the 2009 winners, as well as lists of previous winners, is available at:

Sherry, chair of the marketing department at the Mendoza College of Business, and five research colleagues spent more than three years observing and interviewing shoppers at the flagship American Girl Place showroom in Chicago. Described as a “pilgrimage site for girl consumers,” the three-story megastore features an extensive array of dolls, clothes, books and accessories, as well as a theatre, café, doll hair salon and lounge areas.

In his article, “Why Are Themed Brandstores So Powerful? Retail Brand Ideology at American Girl Place,” Sherry found that consumers at these themed stores tend to attach a set of meanings to the product and the retail experience, even creating memories, family stories and values around them.

“We’re learning that branded products are not just solutions to needs or problems,” says Sherry. “Brands are psycho-culturally alive, and every brand tells a story.”

John F. Sherry Jr. joined the Notre Dame marketing faculty in 2005 as the Herrick Professor of Marketing and chair of the department. For the two previous decades, he was a member of the marketing department at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Sherry is an anthropologist who studies the socio-cultural and symbolic dimensions of consumption, and the cultural ecology of marketing. He is a Fellow of the American Anthropological Association as well as the Society for Applied Anthropology, and past president of the Association for Consumer Research.

Established in 1967, Emerald Group Publishing Limited is the world’s leading publisher of management research, with more than 700 titles published annually, including Harvard Business Review, Journal of Finance, Journal of Marketing and MIS Quarterly.

For more information about the American Girls study, contact Marketing Professor John Sherry at (574) 631-6484 or 


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