Comparative Summary on “the Corporate Politics of Sign Values” by Goldman and Papson and “Media in the Mediated Marketplace” by Leiss Et Al. Essay
The chapter titled “The Corporate Politics of Sign Values” by Goldman and Papson (1996) and the chapter titled “Media in the Mediated Marketplace” by Leiss et al. (2005) both discuss how corporations and their advertising agencies attempt to better target consumers and sustain their interest toward advertisements. Goldman and Papson discuss how “corporate advertising” (1996: 216) and “legitimation ads” (1996: pg. 217) are used for this purpose while Leiss et al. (2005) discuss how various media and media institutions also work towards this purpose.
Although the authors appear to focus on different items, the following themes are embedded within both their discussions: consumer appeal, niche markets, technology, and globalization (Goldman and Papson, 1996; Leiss et al. , 2005). This essay compares the two chapters in their exploration of these themes and will conclude with my verdict on which chapter I believe makes a stronger case. Goldman and Papson begin by defining corporate advertising “as a catchall category that includes image advertising, identity advertising, and advocacy or issue advertising” (1996: 217).
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They then define legitimation ads as a “[subset] of corporate advertising [working to legitimize] corporate economic and political power [through their emphasis on] the social benefits of private profits…” (1996: 217). The authors explain that corporate advertising and legitimation ads collectively work to forge a meaningful, positive relationship between corporations and socially significant issues in order to project a positive, responsible, and trustworthy image for corporations that will better appeal to consumers (Goldman and Papson, 1996).
For instance, legitimation ads may promote capitalist interests by hailing consumers as hard-working, patriotic citizens of America or incorporate themes of nature/sustainability (Goldman and Papson, 1996). On the other hand, Leiss et al. (2005) do not focus on the cultivation of ideological signs and values by corporations, but rather, on how media can be creatively developed and technologically configured in order to increase audience-consumer appeal.
The authors explain that many online ads have become less in-your-face and instead more interactive, fun, and relative to socially significant issues. For instance, there may be an ad in the form of an animated character who will allow the user to type in a command so that the character will execute a particular move, or an ad that promises that its company will plant a tree if a certain number of visitors click on it (Leiss et al. , 2005).
In addition, many companies have attempted to maximize consumer appeal by “[carving] out new niches in the media marketplace” (Leiss et al. , 2005: 334) through technologies such as online oneto-one marketing systems and cable and satellite television. While Leiss et al. explain the technicalities of niching, Goldman and Papson explain how many citizens now equate technological and economic progress with business and how many citizens now believe that business has resulted in more choices, greater quality/performance, and greater “growth opportunities” (1996: 246).
Niche markets, technological advancement, and growth opportunities are closely associated with the notion of “going global” (1996: 246), as Goldman and Papson put it. The authors explain how many advertisements are working to project an image of diversity, global integration, and an eventual “trickling-down” of benefits to everyone through the operations of multinational businesses. Leiss et al. , staying focused on the technicalities of media, stress that we are now living within a “networked world” (2005: 334).
Leiss et al. (2005) explain that the same television channels can be watched by those living in China and those living in eastern Europe, women from all over the world are able to receive the same fashion tips via the global distribution of fashion magazines, and consumers may be able to inquire about products that they have purchased from halfway across the globe though the Internet. Although Goldman and Papson make a strong case, I believe that Leiss et al. s article is more convincing. While it is true that corporate advertisements have been creative and effective in presenting a relationship between companies/business and socially significant issues that consumers can identify with, Goldman and Papson fail to more deeply consider how the level of media-literacy among consumers nowadays has enabled them to more easily see through this fabrication. Therefore, the authors’ argument that legitimation ads may result in an “era of chronic egitimation crisis” (1996: 254) seems to be one that is a bit far-fetched.
On the contrary, Leiss et al. are able to provide a more solid argument through concrete examples. Word Count (excluding title page): 729 References Goldman, R. and Papson, S. (1996). Sign Wars: The Cluttered Landscape of Advertising, London: The Guildford Press. Leiss, W. , Kline, S. , Jhaly, S. , Botterill, J. , 2005. Social Communication in Advertising: Consumption in the mediated marketplace. Routledge, Abingdon, NY.