Mall-eable Media Marketing: “Give Reality the Slip?”
Media marketing may be malled. Advertising’s agora or gathering spaces and times for the gregarious on screen can be written into concrete formations as places not only for sipping Coke but for shopping. A mall’s echoing architecture is regularly occupied by persons pursuing purchases and pleasure, by friends and family “outings” which as well as being intrinsic immersive fun are instrumentally functional. Visiting The Spring, Sarawak, some ﬁnd the supermarket meets needs. Yet shopping malls are represented as sites for the ludic set wholly apart
from the laborious, as pure postmodern places for minds engaged in elevating, enjoyable materialism. Addressing an individualistic, assertive anticipation (“ … it’s about you”), some brand elongated spaces and times (“Take two hours for lunch”) are able to absorb audience consumers in play (“Give reality the slip”). Their wall-mounted poetry propositions us to cultivate the self (“Spend three hours on your hair”) and its stories (“Live more, worry less”). In the midst of materialism, we are told, the mind can escape “their” mundane expectations, recovering instead its own identity: “Remember who you are”. Concentrating on such escapism, celebrating its space, we are said to be
rescued from other-centered obsession and “give in” to ourselves. “Live more, worry less.” But here we shall distance ourselves a little to consider such purportedly absorbing experience of the mall as a rich subject for consumer culture (or interpretive marketing) theory-tested qualitatively by talking to
visitors rather than quantitatively established through enumeration of their responses to questionnaires. For malls are “geographies of consumption” (Jackson and Thrift, 2001) peopled by producers of meaning. The structure of shopping malls (e.g. as web-like) is preﬁgured in the screen
media which bear their marketing, the programs and pages which shape understanding of product. Citizens, advertising format and content make the frequent crossing between television or the Internet’s virtual landscape and the town’s more material layout, where some of us stroll, shop and catch a movie at the mall. In such substantial spaces people, those who persuade us and purchasers meet and make sense of one another in the cognitive processes or continuum of selling and consuming. Malls are analogous in format and functioning to media. On the brands-
caped mall like the television or Internet screen there are genres (of shops and stores rather than programs or websites), addressing (often noisily) and attracting varying crowds. As in malls, media carry global product, distributing it in diverse ways to the locally situated audience, even addressing us appropriately. Consumer citizens view-and with anticipation become absorbed in the content of products in shops as well as programs or sites on screens. They articulate accounts of both and in moments of appropriation apply these narratives to themselves. In the agoric gathering places of material malls or simulated shopping spaces on screen we position ourselves immersively amid product of interest. But in both we can be epistemologically stretched between the intrinsic ludic focus of an “outing” and an instrumental concern with a necessary purchasing for dutiful domestic labor-the “diﬀusion of consumer culture presents” “dilemmas for the world’s peoples” (Classen and Howes, 1996: 179).