McChesney-Hypercommercialism

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Hi Everyone,
Here are a few questions to think about as you read. Please post your discussion questions for McChesney below.

What are oligopolistic markets?

What, for McChesney, is the function of advertising?

What is "image" advertising? Why does this matter?

What is the relationship between advertisements and TV content? (see 144, 148, for example)?

What is the relationship between advertising and social inequality? (That is, which consumers does advertising seek to address? What are the social, cultural and political implications of this? Can you think of some specific examples?)

What does McChesney mean when he calls the contemporary media landscape a "whole new paradigm" (153)?

What does McChesney see as the tension between hypercommercialism and democracy? Please use examples and be specific. Do you see similar tensions in other media examples?

And for fun, here is a clip from the Seinfeld episode McChesney mentions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhbMqjnYNfI

7 Comments

McChesney made a lot of key connections between the relationship between media content and advertising. As we mentioned in class, the distinction between the two is continually becoming smaller and smaller as product placement becomes a popular way to advertise to audiences. McChesney calls this technique "branded entertainment." This helps me pose the question, how long will it take for product placement/branded entertainment in television and movies to take over the majority of advertising dollars, eventually making traditional advertisement extinct?

What I found very interesting was the idea that "advertisers tend to prefer shows that reach their desired audience and do nothing to undermine their sales pitch". This got me thinking about the relationship between television shows that are on networks like NBC and ABC that are free to viewer and contain advertisements and shows that are on networks like HBO and Showtime that don't have advertisements. Premium cable shows are often much more graphic and tend to win more awards than basic cable shows (Homeland comes to mind), so it makes me wonder how the having or not having advertisers not only affects the content, but the quality of the show?

I liked this article a lot, especially the section addressing the advertising set towards children. I found it amazing that in 2004 children spent $35 Billion of their own money, and influenced another $200 Billion on family expenses! That's amazing, I had no idea that the children were that big of a part of the advertising world. It's no wonder the companies spend so much money on ads directed towards kids. But I will cut right to the end when McChesney talks about advertising being the "achilles heel" of the commercial media system because it is so dubious and unpopular. I am not sure how I feel about this statement. Media can be annoying, and I realize he talks about how bad telemarketing is, but advertising can be informative about many things, and it can also be very entertaining. Take a look at why half of people who watch the Super Bowl watch it. The advertising! I want to discuss if this is Robert's overall feeling to rid the world of advertising.

I agree with McChesney's theory that hyper-commercialism poses a threat to democracy - definitely when the lines between advertising and communicating the truth are blurred. This is especially critical in an era of social media. When our modes of communication are dependent on powerful media corporations who depend on advertising, I believe that even casually communicating ideas will become dependent on wether a profit can be derived from the content of these ideas. How can we ensure that social media platforms conduct business ethically, and still survive in todays marketplace?

Happy Tuesday Everyone! The Age of Hyper-Commercialism was very informational. I feel like plenty of the examples he used, were examples that are directly correlated to ideas that I never really thought about. McChesney talked about all sorts of relationships between advertisements, and the vehicles in which we- as consumers- inadvertently provide. One example that really stuck out to me was how video games were becoming the "next frontier of product placement." Its kind of sad that our youth is so susceptable to these subliminal messages imbedded in their hobbies. You know in the movie "Wall.e", when they get to "the Axiom" and theres "Buy 'n' Large" advertisements literally Everywhere? Thats how it was going to a Major League Gaming (MLG for short) competition. There were Coke, Doritos, Astros and M&M'a advertisements lining the walls, the floor, the bathrooms. Never in my life have I seen such an aggressive approach! My question is, if this belief of a "new paradigm," as McChesney calls it, is dissolving traditional borders and creating new standards, then what will happen in the future? Already we have this immense pressure to buy things, even when we really dont want to. I feel that we are becoming immune to some of the advertisements, and learn to tune them out. But in effect, marketed schemes and advertisers will combat that with other, more aggresive tactics. When does it end? Or does it not?

What I found most interesting about this article was the information on product placement. In class on Monday, we talked about how many people may skip over advertisements nowadays so advertisers must come up with different ways for products to come face to face with the consumer. My question is how far will producers and advertisers go in their quest for products to keep reaching consumers if the consumers skip over advertisements online or on television? Will it come down to advertisements plastered all over schools and offices?

McChesney writes that the function of advertising is a specific type of capitalism, at a costly price, but with exponential success. I thought the quote by one of the CEO's was very interesting and pertained to what I had been thinking through the majority of this reading. He says, "I know that half of my advertising doesn't work, I just don't know which half." If I could offer my opinion, it would be the constant bombarding of your product. I don't need to be sold access to a dating website, or a diet pill whenever I go online, turn on my television, or step onto the MetroTransit. Is there a term/definition for advertising overkill? Is that a real thing? If it hasn't been scholarly defined, I volunteer to make it known.

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This page contains a single entry by zimme313 published on February 11, 2013 10:11 AM.

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