chapter  1
21 Pages

Audiences Articulating Advertising

If marketing is now culturally central how is it mediated through television and Internet screens which are equally perceptually pivotal in modern times? How does it address consumers leading them to buy brands? What is the communicative logic of this situation? How can we understand the process of media persuading us to purchase product? Why do audiences align with or become alienated from advertising on screen? Continuing this spatial metaphor, how does global branding become culturally close to local consumers? For they clearly have differing perspectives on the world (or occupy distant horizons of understanding its content). In seeking to respond to these geographically oriented questions we remember Fischer and Sherry’s remark (2007) while presenting Consumer Culture Theory that the “geography of contemporary consumption, as it must, will be re-written and re-mapped continuously” (3). As a book on media branding, this volume is about understanding the rea-

sons why everyday audiences form attitudes rather than explaining the causes of those value judgments. Relationships between evaluative belief and eventual buying abstracted by theory elsewhere are placed back within cultural horizons (or an informing context) where people link product and person in a process of articulating identities for both screen and self. Recognizing and interpreting such phenomena needs to conceptually precede inductive (generalizing) statistical description. We shall attend to the time-taking process wherein both consumer and market researcher understand “data.” Consumers articulate (sometimes persuasive) narrative about media bran-

ded products, appropriating these branding stories to shape their horizons of self understanding for a reason. They are not caused to do so as an effect of screen content. Rather, drawing on their always already existing awareness of narrative and other cultural forms to assemble the meaning of a sometimes enigmatic branding story, they identify (or align) with people’s product use

therein. Consumers thereby generate narratives of (would-be) guidance from generic information and find them appropriate. Or they distance (alienate) themselves from narrative content (and form) in distrust. Global Advertising considers Asian consumer responses to global and local

screen marketing and shopping malls which are argued to be analogous in their modes of immersing audiences. How shoppers understand and incorporate both mall and media marketing into their daily lives is immensely culturally varied but essentially identical. We focus on their interpreting and identifying (with) marketing brands on screen from banks and fast food to universities, nations to telecommunications. Our research participant discourse (or speech) displaying the prolonged cognitive process wherein consumers make sense of advertising and branding and integrate them with living is emphasized as fundamentally important in our analyzing marketing. Often, the story of selling through screens is couched in terms of influencing

consumer attitudes towards a brand or product. Like some communication studies (e.g. in cultivation theory), marketing research can consider this to be a causal chain, a narrative in which powerful advertising will have the effect of bringing about buying behavior. The success (or strength) of this connection, it is said, can be quantitatively measured. In this chapter we shall discuss some initial instances of consumer discourse (or talk) to conclude that such a linking of events between screen and purchase is a myth with caused or causal attitudes a core fiction at the heart of this methodological delusion. Replacing such a narrative of passive purchasing, we shall argue instead,

consumers actively appropriate media advertising. They both identify the meaning of content (i.e. recognize it) and identify (i.e. align) with characters on screen, with the latter’s activity providing reasons for purchase. As a contributor to my early consumer research asserted, “they are doing that, why not us?” Or, resisting the rational momentum of advertising’s sought for agreement, consumers are critical, becoming alienated (Brecht, 1978) or discovering their distance from marketing on screen.1