Friday, February 9, 2007

Advertising is an ideological forum in a participatory culture

When we consider the concept of participatory advertising, it is important to acknowledge there are myriad ways in which to participate. Mostly we talk about the Web 2.0 social networking of commercials that takes place via YouTube and the like. But there are other ways of participating. In the case of this year’s Super Bowl, groups concerned with gay rights, suicide prevention, and even restaurant workers used the opportunity to publicly react to three commercials in particular and to use the opportunity to engage the public in discourse concerning what is right or wrong, appropriate or inappropriate. This social use of advertising allows competing ideologies to be presented and it is through this unintended use of advertising that “we” get to make sense of our world. The group GLAAD, took offense to the depiction in a Snickers commercial of two men kissing who then declare that they need to something manly. The group claims the ad is homophobic. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention criticized General Motors for using a perfectionist robot who jumps off a bridge because it dropped a bolt during the assembly line process. And, the National Restaurant Association reacted to the KFed depiction as a fast-food worker as insulting to the nation's almost 13 million employees in the restaurant industry. From time to time the American Family Association will launch an attack as they did some years ago against Calvin Klein who at the time was running what some have dubbed the “kiddie-porn” campaign. Needless to say, the Super Bowl is an opportunity for groups that otherwise wouldn’t be heard to have their voice included in the public discourse. I’ll bet that you never thought about advertising playing such a role in American culture and society. What we are witnessing is certainly an unintended effect of advertising. But in a participatory culture it makes sense that there are any number of ways to participate with advertising; this is just one.

5 comments:

pbmorris said...
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pbmorris said...

Besides the GLAAD complaint of the Snickers commericial, I think that these groups are making a big deal out of nothing. The robot commercial is not about suicide, it's about the dedication put into making a car, and the KFed commercial is not making fun of the restaurant's employees, if anything it makes fun of him. If the commercial had placed a normal person instead of KFed I bet there would not have been an issue. However, I do agree that Advertising certainly does effect culture and society.
I was on the internet and I found an article in The Onion online (a newsletter) about a Coca Cola commercial that aired in California in 2004. This commercial celebrated Latin American culture by showing young Latinos dancing to their music while drinking Coke. This commercial empowered Latinos so much that the League of United Latin American Citizens have been encouraging Latinos to buy the full line of Coke products, including snacks and beverages manufactured by subsidiaries. The organization has even been encouraging other Latino organizations to air the commercial at public gatherings. Needless to say, this commercial not only truly reached its target audience but it is now going to reach the part of the population that might have missed it. This may also encourage Coca Cola to create more commercials that would have the same effect for other cultures, which would in turn increase their profit and give the brand a good name. Who knows, it may even create more brand loyalty than it already has.

Emma Staley said...
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Emma Staley said...

I can definitely understand why GLAD got upset about this ad....however I do find it kinda of silly that these groups makes such a big deal about certain ads. The point is to grasp people's attentions and by drawling more attention to a so-called controversial ad then the advertisers are getting exactly what they want--more publicity and more talk about their product. Personally, when I first saw this ad during the Super Bowl I was taken aback my the commercial along with other people I was watching television with. The two guys kissing/almost kissing the commercial did make me a little uncomfortable; however, I did find it very funny when they thought they had to do something "manly" after to in a sense undo what just happened.

aebergmann said...

The fact that advertisements on television can cause so much buzz and so many different organizations talking about them, even if it is protest, I think is pretty amazing. I think it is really interesting that advertisements can have the power to get great discussions and debates started between different rights groups. Who would have ever thought that a thirty second blurb would be able to bring so many people together, conversing on the same topic?