Throughout contemporary society, the rapid development of technology has led to the phenomenon of digital media convergence. This process is constantly evolving and progressing, spreading across multiple media platforms allowing for effortless communication and interaction across the globe. In particular, this accessibility to share and produce information to such wide audiences has allowed for the rise in power of advertising and new media over modern consumers. Traditional media forms of television have combined with newer forms such as music video and social media via the Internet to expose both the informed, and unaware consumer to a multitude of marketing strategies in a way that has never been dreamed of before, allowing for advertising to shape and sustain the media that we consume. Within this discussion of media convergence I will specifically explore the growth of “consumer sovereignty” and the role of branded content as a prominent factor towards the success and dominance of the modern advertising world upon consumers.
In order to draw relationship between media convergence and advertising, it is important to have a strong understanding of the concept of media convergence. As stated by Dwyer, media convergence is the “ process whereby new technologies are accommodated by existing media and communication industries and cultures. The fact that the term is used to describe this adaptation, merging together and transitioning process, is an indication that the ongoing confrontation of old and new technologies is complex and multilayered” (Dwyer 2010). In recent years, the emergence of the social network across Internet and mobile devices has become a prominent and highly accessible source of communication between consumers. There is an increasing number of ways for consumers to share and distribute information, creating effortless communication in the modern world. A notable example of this accessibility and opportunity for communication is evident through the social networking of the U.S government. The Whitehouse currently communicates to global consumers via eight different platforms over the Internet alone – their official website, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo and iTunes. Through this example we can draw similarities to understand that this revolution in opportunity, has allowed for dynamic, entertaining and less obtrusive ways for advertisers to reach
the modern consumer.
“Consumer sovereignty” is a significant notion of advertising that has emerged through the occurrence media convergence. This notion recognizes that the “buyer” or consumer determines what is sold in the marketplace, which is commonly through interaction via the Internet. In a world of consumer sovereignty, the consumer is king and their technological communication across a global level is the driving force behind a product’s success. The viral video campaign is a particular strategy within consumer sovereignty where advertisers aim to create usually a humorous and entertaining advertisement, which is then shared via social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. These sites are used as a sort of ‘launch pad’, relying on the active consumer to share and simultaneously market their brand through their interaction with other consumers. Even more importantly, the viral video campaign cuts large marketing costs for brands as they do not rely on television airtime or specifically targeted Internet space to gain consumer attention. Instead they rely on the popularity and inevitable interaction of consumers to spread recognition for them.
In 2010, U.S men’s hygiene and grooming brand, Old Spice, made perhaps one of the most memorable viral video campaigns to date. The company used YouTube to launch a very humorous and dynamic thirty-second advertisement for their body wash starring former NFL player Isaiah Mustafa. Following its launch quickly attracted millions of viewers and the advertisement took the social media world by storm. The sharing and interaction with the brand and video brought Old Spice immediate success, as consumers world-wide could now make instant recognition of the brand, bringing along associations and entertainment and humor with it to create a strong and positive advertiser and consumer relationship. Furthermore, in her discussion of brand engagement, Morrison states “Allowing consumers to interact with content allows new levels of creativity and engagement as people create their own stories where brands play a role: either as a facilitator or an actual character” (Morrison 2009). Thus demonstrating further demonstrating how the marketability and global power of the brand is increased
Although, these viral video campaigns can serve as an excellent marketing technique for companies, it is also a difficult strategy to successfully adopt. Advertisers creating a viral video campaign for Smartwater starring Jennifer Aniston particularly recognized this notion, where particular marketing techniques such as cute animals and dancing babies were addressed and used in their ad, aiming to create the ultimate viral video campaign, which can be seen here.
Considering these issues addressed in the Smartwater campaign, it is important to note that not every brand can so successfully break through the monotony and typical mold of uninspired advertisements to reach the swaying attention of consumers. Thus the introduction of product placement has also proven as a successful strategy to indirectly market their products, whilst counteracting the avoidance issue, as consumers can now view television online to skip past the influx of advertising in modern television. Product placement is referred to as “an advertising technique, in which a brand name product is inserted into a scene of a television show or movie.” (Ho Yu 2006).
As evident in the above video, Lady Gaga’s music video has merged with advertising to successfully market multiple brands such as Virgin Mobile, Plentyoffish.com and Ray-Ban, without drawing obvious attention to the products like a direct television advertisement would. The incorporation of these brands into the music video of an international pop superstar increases their desirability to consumers and creates positive associations with the brands. Social media sites like YouTube and Facebook emerging through media convergence further facilitate the spread of branded content and brand recognition, as these music videos can easily be shared via various social networking sites, demonstrating the effectiveness and high exposure of consumers to product placement.
Thus it is evident that through the process of technological media convergence and the interaction of consumers within social media that advertisers are now able to market products to consumers more successfully than ever before, giving them an ultimate position of power within the realm
Dwyer, T 2010, Media Convergence, McGraw Hill, Berkshire, pp. 1-23.
Ho Yu, C 2006, ‘Ethical Issue of Product Placement and Manipulation’, In-film Advertising: Brand Positing Strategy, 31st January, pp. 2-14, viewed 9 June 2012
Jenkins, H 2006, Convergence Culture, New York, New York University Press, pp 1-24.
Morrison, D & Sheehan, K 2009 ‘Beyond convergence: Confluence culture and the role of the advertising agency in a changing world’ in First Monday, vol. 14 no. 3, viewed 29 August 2012,
Understanding convergence culture 2012, viewed 30 August 2012,