February 14, 2013

Money Is Their Leverage. Media Is Their Weapon.

Of all the silly, naive marketing notions that have accompanied the growth of the Internet, the most pervasive and foolhardy is the idea that the "consumer is now in charge."

The truth is exactly the opposite. The consumer today has less control than ever.

The web has intensified and consolidated the hold that large media entities and large marketers have on our culture, our economy, and our purchasing habits.

Callow digital utopians believe that because we consult Yelp to find out what some fixie biker in Brooklyn thinks is good pizza, we are freeing ourselves from the power of corporate and media dominance.

For the most part, digital media and traditional media have become indistinguishable. They are driven by the same need to attract eyeballs, which means they are obsessed by the same stories and slaves to the same types of narrative.

You can take Yahoo's top stories on any given day and be pretty certain they will be identical to the top stories on the nightly news. You can check what's trending on Twitter and be pretty sure it will be on the evening trash magazine show.

Corporate marketers are learning very quickly how to manipulate technology to leverage the assets of the new media types. Or haven't you heard of Facebook?

Is it a surprise to anyone that the organizations with the largest Facebook followers are also the ones that have dominated traditional media? Is anyone still shocked that almost 45% of all digital ad dollars are spent on Google?

The new digital media giants are interbreeding with old school marketing and media kingpins to create a modern kind of corporate/media sovereignty. It is stronger than ever. It is more pervasive than ever. It has not been diminished by the rise of digital media. It has been enhanced.

Money is their leverage. Media is their weapon.

Now the marketing-media complex is discovering a new way to assert itself -- by absorbing show business celebrities like Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, and Lady Gaga into the corporate structure. According to Ad Age...
"...brands aren't just featuring celebs in marketing campaigns -- they're giving stars a place in the marketing suite...with lofty titles like chief creative officer (and)...chief innovator..."
Marketers have always been willing to pay celebrities for the reflected glory of their fame. But now they're willing to pretend that these people are in the back room.

For their part, celebrities have always been willing to whore for money. Now they're willing to pimp.

The tighter the relationship between big media, big marketing, and big entertainment, the more absurd the idea that the "consumer is now in charge."

We are faced with a daunting prospect -- a new face of marketing that is not just plastered all over TV and billboards, but is embedded in our emails, steals our identity to influence our friends, knows where we are at all times, and makes it all pretty by pretending our beautiful idols are pulling the strings.

Only the delusional and the credulous can really believe that "the consumer is now in charge."

I'm going on vacation. Talk amongst yourselves.


BK said...

How come my weeny blog articles rank way above any commercial/manufacturer pages on the product they've offering? If I'm looking into buying a product, and Google it, I'll find honest reviews (we quickly learn how to spot the paid ones). Agreed, somebody might buy their sneakers based on what Lady Gag wears, even if it's stamped as junk on tumblr, but they'd done that without the Internet as well.
I'll be on vacation as well, so I guess the crawlers and bots could start discussing...

Chris S. said...

The consumer has the same amount of control he or she has always had, in my view. The whole internet is a choice. Just like people pick up the clicker and grow roots on the couch, they grab the mouse and click their lives away online.

It's now *how* we consume, it's *that* we consume. There are likely people who make a point of taking control of whatever they can, but for most people, they're just looking to be entertained, come what may. No one is fooling them about who's in charge. Most of them don't care – or gave up long ago.

The idea of control is as much a marketing construct as anything else, in my opinion.

Tadas said...

Is it a surprise to anyone that the organizations with the largest Facebook followers are also the ones that have dominated traditional media?

Please, do not oversimplify. Go to facebook and check how many likes have Nissan Vs. Aston Martin or Ford Vs Ferrari? Are you sure that Aston Martin overspends Nissan in traditional media?

treb said...

WOW!!! I really had a great time reading the article... It is very informative and I love the flow of information being shared here... Thanks for composing and sharing this content...

Anonymous said...

I just hope treb was trying to be funny.

Mickiey Lonchar said...


I immediately thought of you when I read this WSJ article. How after Pepsi went all-in on social media only to see its flagship product slip into third place in the cola wars, last February, they quietly stepped away from goofy social media promotions and invested $500 million more in its world-wide ad budget. The results? Surprise, surprise, sales growth. Way more than Coke.

Take a bow.


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
gear khk said...

thanks blog

Anonymous said...

Clueless blog post. Your lack of awareness of what really is happening on Facebook shows more with each post. Keep building strawmen and knocking them down and focusing on a few big brands and agencies rather than the gazillion of other online businesses/pages that are achieving real success and are engaging (yes, I know you hate that word) and getting feedback from their customers on a daily basis through social media. We all know the very biggest brands suck at social media and that "agencies" engage in retarded marketing speak. But you're ignoring the trenches, where many small/medium online companies/pages are making bank in social media.

Unknown said...

" But you're ignoring the trenches, where many small/medium online companies/pages are making bank in social media."
Like? Genuinely interested in some examples..