I write this blog for my advertising students at Loyola University Maryland.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Participating in Imaginary Social Worlds
Imaginary social relationships are relationships we have with media figures that parallel actual relationships. They comprise just one stop of the wheel of imaginary social worlds. First, a media figure can be a sports figure, celebrity (meaning actress or actress), newscaster, politician and it also might refer to people who are thrust into the news, like Octomom, for example. Anyway, because imaginary social relationships parallel actual relationships, media figures may play important roles in our lives as father or mother figures, mentors or teachers, friends, and lovers, among other roles. Sometimes the imaginary relationship is based on hatred, for example I cannot stand Rosie O’Donnell. I don’t know her, but I simply cannot stand her. From time to time imaginary social relationships tip over too far as was the infamous case of John Hinckley who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in order to impress the actress Jody Foster. Unfortunately celebrity stalking has become all too common in our culture. Putting such extreme cases aside, I think it is fair to say that anyone who grows up in a mediated culture such as ours is likely to engage in imaginary social relationships with media figures. For some people the relationship may be on the level of liking, but for others the relationships may be enduring and quite complex. It is on the basis of deep and meaningful imaginary relationships that savvy marketers consider using media figures in their advertisements. Selecting the appropriate media figure for the right product and communicating with the right audience can produce “magic” for the marketer. The use of such media figures can invoke the wonder-consent-participation process that I have described as a hallmark of postmodern advertising with the result being the ever-coveted deep engagementof the consumer. Imaginary social relationships are just one part of multiple realities in which we exist that extend from the authentic outward to mediated worlds and inward to imaginary social worlds. Each of these “worlds” feeds off one another, as is the case with dreams whose content feeds off our everyday life (day residue) and whose content informs our everyday life (dream residue).