Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

The Value of Media Engagement, Part 1

Posted by nathanpowers22 on February 22, 2017

Considering there were seven(!) reading assignments for this week, I’ve selected two related essays to discuss more deeply: “‘Consumers’ or ‘Multipliers’” and “Valuing Fans.” The connection between these texts lies in the “indirect sources” of economic value mentioned in the “Valuing Fans” essay. As the author, Eleanor Stribling, explains, while endorsing, sharing, and recommending media texts are “more difficult to quantify and sometimes measure, [these types of expression] are immensely valuable because of the social elements that help to both retain and recruit audiences.” This supports my view, which is that these forms of engagement with popular culture have been some of the major driving forces in restructuring traditional economic models centered around the developing Web 2.0 landscape. This also helps elaborate on why Grant McCracken suggests that we redub “consumers” as “multipliers.” To me, his idea makes a lot of sense because beyond the negative connotations of “consumer” that he mentions, I’ve always associated that term with a mindless, indiscriminate attitude (much like the depiction of consumers in They Live). Of course, I doubt the idea will catch on very soon, if at all, but it’s an interesting concept nonetheless. I mean, I feel a big part of why having an established presence on social media is so vital today is because it’s the simplest way to allow for the organic dissemination of a brand’s message through their target audience. Particularly in cases where an advertisement is packaged in a way that speaks to some social phenomenon larger than the relatively narrow goal of the marketing campaign (e.g. gender equality), prospective buyers can be seduced into multiplying the customer base for a given product via digital word-of-mouth (e.g. shares, retweets, etc.).


2 Responses to “The Value of Media Engagement, Part 1”

  1. Sean Hull said

    On the topic of your last point, though going along with progressive social & legal phenomena such as pushes for gender equality may be effective in marketing if implemented well, if implemented in a way that seems non-genuine or insensitive, then there’s the chance of backlash against perceived exploitation of current issues for the sake of marketing. Off the top of my head, this old anti-drug PSA sponsored by McDonalds feels uncomfortable to me for this reason: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rb8z2BMrd60

    • nathanpowers22 said

      I don’t know if I’d consider that PSA exploitative because it’s inauthentic or insensitive. I just think this was early in Michael Jordan’s career and he had yet to adjust to his status as a celebrity, so his delivery was pretty awkward and unnatural. However, I do agree that the potential for backlash is something to consider, and I believe companies do when making moves like this. To me, it’s sort of a calculated risk in that even if they receive criticism from a vocal minority, the decision can remain profitable if the majority of their user base remains loyal and/or shares the brand message in a positive way regardless.

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