It’s surprising how many of the marketing methods utilized by advertisers from the Industrial Era and later are still used today. For instance, the concept of maintaining integrity of the medium at craigslist.org leads to a huge range of categories which contain and restrict the listings to defined spaces, similar to the column and type limitations of mid 19th century newspaper publishers. From then, marketing and consumption become interwoven, to the extent of barely being distinguishable sometimes. That idea continues today, as web-sites utilize inline advertising, which creates links out of editor’s texts, pointing to client’s sites.
Meanwhile the anticipation over every Steve Jobs speech at MacWorld creates a similar fury to the rumor-filled waits for the next Robert Bonner advertisement. Likewise, trailers for movies and video games are anticipated and marveled over, similar to the awe of Bonner’s use of iteration to create images.
Similarities aside, today’s marketing has grown so intertwined with media, physical structures, clothing, and even people that it’s become difficult to distinguish between advertisements and authentic messages. For instance, Sony was slammed last December for starting a blog touting the PSP as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Sony has since deleted the fake blog, but the internet archive still holds a copy of it. Wal-Mart was accused of starting a fake blog about a couple driving around America, staying at Wal-Mart parking lots.
With advertisers now attempting to create marketing messages that mimic authentic media distributions, there’s really no way to determine if a message is genuine, or a coy attempt to instill authenticity into it’s brand. At least when advertisers plaster their logos and messages on stadiums, clothing, even city streets and people, you at least know it’s an advertisement.
Viral marketing better attempts at creating authentic experiences for visitors, such as the blog possibly related to the new J.J. Abrams movie, which creates a storyline possibly relating to the movie and its storyline. At least here, the advertisers are not shamelessly touting their product, but rather trying to create an experience for the fan. Still, these blogs are a form of media, in and of themselves, while also possibly being marketing strategies for a movie, another form of media. Are we consuming advertising by following these viral marketing stories, or are we simply consuming media, that happens to be related to another form of media? The answer is hazy and shows the near total disintegration between consumption and marketing. Where does one start, where does the other begin, nobody can really pinpoint anymore. In fact, how do you know this post wasn’t sponsored by J.J. Abrams? And by raising the question myself, do I instill more authenticity into this message, or detract from it?
The above post is the second part of Discussion 13. Has advertising become too integrated with the rest of society? Is advertising a form of media all on its own? Is that OK?