Archive for the ‘Medium’ Category

By Jhansher Khan

Well I want to go back to an older theory that McLuhan put forth and analyze it since it can be applied in modern society. Okay so the big question is, do we actually pay attention to advertising? Well of course we do, if we like it or not. There are two types of media that McLuhan proposed, “hot” media and “cool” media. “Hot” media as McLuhan says, takes more of a passive approach when listening. It’s understandable why we tend not to analyze “hot” media, since these mediums such as the television and radio do not require our utmost attention most of the time. We tend to just absorb everything the media or to go even further, “advertising” informs us about. We fail to question advertising, as well as its overall motives. “Cool” media is when we actually actively participate in “filling in the gaps”, with mediums such as the newspaper and literature for example where we can actually filter out messages that are relevant to us. Yes, we can also do this with “hot” media, but not as effectively since it is difficult to go back and review points for example since messages are basically said in short spans of time. For example, the radio, you may hear something that interests you, but you less likely to “fill in the gaps” since the radio already conveys a message to the listener and the listener happens to take on a more passive role in return.

This brings about the question of “audience”, are we dominated or pluralistic? Do we select what we want to hear or do we listen to everything the media conveys? It tends to be a mix of both, it really depends on the consumer. Some consumers of these messages may internalize these messages while others do not. However, it seems that there is more of a transition towards a pluralistic society. During the 1950’s, society was very much controlled by the printing press and not many bothered to question motives of advertisers. However, during the modern age, yes we are still consuming more and corporations are expanding rapidly, but there is more questioning occurring as a result. Take for instance, Morgan Spurlock, the creator of a documentary called, “Super Size Me”, he questioned practices performed by McDonalds and tried to expose their real intentions as a rich and greedy corporation. Documentaries like these in turn also causes consumers to question what they are consuming. Therefore, there seems to be more “Pluralism” in this case. According to an article called, “How Advertising Works: What Do We Really Know?” by Demetrios Vakratsas and Tim Ambler, there is a certain model that advertisers use to get our attention. The abbreviation known as “AIDA”(26) is proposed to be a model that is behind advertising. It stands for:

Attention——> Interest——–>Desire———->Action

This is an effective model and is actually relevant to how messages are conveyed to us. First they grab consumer attention, get them interested, show them how they would benefit from a product and/or idea and then the consumer acts on it. Within the same article there is a table displaying “A Framework for Studying How Advertising Works”(26)

Demetrios Vakratsas., Tim Ambler. (1999). How Advertising Works: What Do We Really Know?. Journal of Marketing, Pp.26. 63


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By Jhansher Khan

Determinism, is the idea that we must think in extremes and only through one model or idea. However, when assessing a reason for why anything occurs, there is more likely multiple reasons and explanations that are at hand. The theorist I would like to bring up, whom is very deterministic would be Marshal McLuhan. His type of view is that society changes due to thriving technology and that is the only driving factor in this case. In the book, “The Toronto School of Communication Theory: Interpretations, Extensions, Applications,” the author states, “What about the institutional power and political implications of electronic communication?”(86)

It is true that besides technology, there are political and corporate factors at play. According to McLuhan’s view, society is heavily ingrained in the idea of the printing press, since that is where technology seemed to begin in the media and newspapers were one of the first mediums in society. Newspapers were a source of enrichment and education, as well as an outlook of the outside world. Through this medium, the media was able to exercise its own power and domination over people in society. It could be at times bias or misleading as well, which brings in the idea of how the political and corporate world begin to use these mediums, as well as the idea of cultural factors being imbedded behind messages. If a government for example wanted to use this medium to justify acts of war for example, through the newspaper, a one sided biased article may explain how the government essentially has the right to invade another country. Therefore, the use of mediums can lead to corruption and deceit in society.

As technology developed over time, new mediums were formed and generally the same messages and the idea of control was implemented. The invention of televisions, the radio, and computers for example are used in modern times. All this new technology did was open up a new window of opportunity for the corporate and political world to reach us in society. This idea of reaching us and conveying messages to us has been implemented for years, regardless of technology. The only major change is that it is now much easier to convey messages across to us, since the mediums we use in modern day society can be flooded with advertisements put forth by corporations. Therefore, we are more manipulated now than ever.

An advertisement does not necessarily just sell products, but presents us with certain ideas that corporations want us to absorb in everyday lives. Even the political world may use advertising, it is not just limited by the corporate world. One example that was more prevalent in the past two years was the idea of Barrack Obama running as a presidential candidate in the United States of America in the democratic party. Certain ideas were created in his campaign, such as the idea of “change” during the aftermath of an economic crisis caused by the previous government. There were multiple advertisements for his campaign and he eventually took a stand in popular culture as some sort of political prophet that would take office and would succeed in completely reshaping the United States of America.

“Barack Obama looks more like a movie star than a politician”

Here is an article by CNN, that has already analyzed the idea of Obama as a pop culture figure:

Not only did his reach take effect in North America, in other countries around the world that praised him. Even products that certain companies made had the label of “Obama” on them. (I’ll attach a few pictures to give examples) He was basically seen as a charismatic leader and a sign of hope, much like other political influential leaders, such as Nelson Mandella in South Africa. It wasn’t just a simple election. Something originally intended to be just in the realm of the political world, extended its reach into the corporate world as well. Everyday, before he was eventually elected into power, citizens of the United States of America were always reminded of his change campaign and all of the positive hope he presented to society. Through multiple advertisements presented on T shirts, pins to his face on practically every magazine, advertising was effectively implemented and practically being treated like a pop icon may have tremendously helped him win the election. Yet once again, this is an example of the political world at play and its relation to advertising.

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By Jhansher Khan

As the second week comes to a close in Professor Strangelove’s CMN 2160 class, we have covered a lot of material, mainly two of the most influential thinkers known as Harold Innis and Marshal McLuhan. Although the background about them is fairly general for now, we are likely going to go further in depth with these theorists. I’m particularly interested in McLuhan’s idea of “mediums”, which I will cover in this blog entry. However, the major topic I am interested in and have been interested in for quite some time is “advertising” which ties in McLuhan’s idea of the “medium.” According to Dr.Strangelove McLuhan was not completely right in every aspect, but I just want to look at this one specific area for now and relate it to advertising. So lets begin!

Advertisements are memorable, that’s for sure. Whether its from television, the internet or posters on public property, there is no doubt that we are completely saturated in advertisements. Most of us choose to not pay attention to advertisements, but the fact is that we most likely have already stored a vivid mental image of the advertisement (whether it be a logo, specific colours that stands out) within the depths of our minds.

Advertisers must ensure that they pay attention to the current cultural standing in society by integrating cultural symbols for example. To be fully effective they must also pay attention to the constantly changing practices and technology. Communication of these various messages must be integrated as well, and the message that advertisers choose to portray must be effective and understandable.

However, can all this advertisement lead to a sort of Tyranny in society, whereas corporations gear us towards certain products and ideas? McLuhan advocated for the idea that, “the medium is the message,” but can this medium be overused and corrupted at any point? It is certain that this new medium of technology allows advertisers and corporations to reach out the general population. It is questionable if whether or not there is too much of an influence which drives us in directions that we would not originally intend to. Therefore, advertisements as “guides”, instructing us with it’s certain influences and the idea of conformity.

The general type of idea I’m trying to get at is that the only way corporations can communicate with us is through advertising as a sort of tool. So if this were to be laid out in a simple diagram:

Corporations————–> Advertisement——————> General Public

This is the most effective way of communicating in this manner and mediums are just mere tools to advertise since these mediums are used by the general public on a daily basis, so why not slip in advertisements here and there to get their attention when they least expect it?

These mediums in which messages are conveyed evolve constantly and are often replaced due to technological advancement. The Gutenburg Press developed in the 1500’s was the first innovation to convey messages to the general public. Over time however, newer mediums were introduced such as the radio, television and public poster advertisements. During the 1990’s, the internet was developed and still thrives as a medium that we all generally use. The internet now currently plays a large part of our lives, even University courses such as Dr.Strangelove’s class highly revolves the use of the internet. I would not be surprised if a new medium came into play in the next decade for example since new innovations are always taking effect.

I’ll put forth one major example of a corporation I’ve been more aware of recently. One of the largest fast food enterprises “MacDonalds,” which has practically expanded itself globally, took it’s franchise to whole new levels of advertising. By using the popular phrase, “I’m lovin’ it,” as well as the memorable character “Ronald MacDonald,” the mascot of the whole corporation, they have successfully executed their advertisement campaign and as a result it became one of the largest fast food chains in the world itself. (Probably is the biggest!) So what is MacDonald trying to convey to the public? That they are fast, cheap, efficient and that they serve to millions across the globe. So is it really the quality of food that drives people towards MacDonalds? I think not, since these foods are cheaply made and are very unhealthy as well. Anyways, the main reason why people choose to flock to MacDonalds is due to every advertisement possible on every “medium.” They usually heavily advertise their products as being cheap and affordable compared to other fast food industries. There may be other reasons I’m not mentioning here, but I really think that this is one of the main reasons.

I will probably contribute more ideas in later blogs, but for now this is my first one.

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