Digimodernism; the Future is Now!
By: Lara Mulady
Master of Arts in Corporate Communication 2010
Supervisor: Joan Pape Rasmussen
Abstract .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 7
How does the shift into digimodernism radically alter society, further upsetting the balance between consumer and
marketing, and what challenges does this shift present to marketing communications?............................................................................................ 15
Structure and Delimitation.................................................................................................................................................................19
Structure ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 19
Qr codes & images .................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 21
Digimodernism; the Future is Now!............................................................................................................................................................................................29
Is Postmodernism Really Dead? ................................................................................................................................................................................................30
Why Digimodernism? ..............................................................................................................................................................................................................................32
Robert Samuel ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................34
Altermodernity, Performatism, and Hypermodernity...............................................................................................................................................36
Altermodernism ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 36
Hypermodernity ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 37
Empirical Research Method ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................40
Writing Style............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 41
Postmodernism; from where are we coming? .....................................................................................................................................................................45
The Postmodern Consumer .........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................46
Digimodernism; Where are we Going?........................................................................................................................................................................................47
The Digimodern Consumer............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................55
The Blurred Edges..................................................................................................................................................................................... 63
Individualism vs. Tribes...................................................................................................................................................................................................................66
Methodical Considerations in Empirical Research.............................................................................................................71
Why a Focus Group? ..............................................................................................................................................................................................................................71
Scientific Theoretical Base for Empirical Research.............................................................................................................................................72
Authenticity and Trustworthiness..................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 72
Methodical Considerations ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................74
Location and Setting.................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 77
Introduction to Focus Group......................................................................................................................................................................................................77
Discussion Guide and Session Structure ........................................................................................................................................................................................................78
Choice of cases ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 79
Digimodern media consumption; the analysis......................................................................................................................... 83
Effort vs. Reward ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................86
Adutainment; the conundrum of virals and fun............................................................................................................................................................88
Product or image?................................................................................................................................................................................................................................92
Further research suggestions......................................................................................................................................................105
This paper consists of 119,999 characters/54.5 pages
Since the popularisation of the internet in 1995, it, and other technologies, has far surpassed anything we could have imagined – not only in
terms of the actual technology but also in terms of how it has changed and shaped society. The postmodern society truly flourished with this
technology, and consumers, who had already broken free of the modernistic constraints, quickly adapted to it, gaining more knowledge, and
therefore more power, than ever before. Simultaneously, this technology created ways by which consumers could consume media; their role of
‘reader’ began to switch to ‘author’, as it became more and more common for the consumer to create, personalise and adapt. From books, to
shoes, to music, to television shows; consumers suddenly became a link in the production chain, rather than a inactive receptor at the end.
This paper argues that due to these changes, we are no longer a solely postmodern society. Instead, we have begun to shift into a new paradigm,
a paradigm where society, although still featuring many of the postmodern tenants, is heavily influenced by, and dependant on, technology. Alan
Kirby calls this shift digimodernism, and it is this digimodern theory that is discussed and applied throughout the paper.
The digimodern consumer, active, participative and knowledgeable, has forced marketing to rapidly evolve. Struggling to come to terms with
postmodernism, the field must again adapt and acknowledge that the digimodern consumer can now be seen as an active link in the marketing
process, and not simply a passive receiver.
This study seeks to answer the problem statement of; how does the shift into digimodernism radically alters society, further upsetting the
balance between consumer and marketing, and what challenges does this shift present to marketing communications?
The paper approaches this problem formulation by first discussing postmodernism and the postmodern consumer, before moving on to discuss
digimodernism, and the digimodern consumer. Not only is this easier to follow, given that it is chronological, but it also allows the reader to note
that digimodernism does not present a clean break from postmodernism, but simply a technologically enhanced evolution.
The digimodern consumer is highlighted as being active, demanding, impatient, knowledgeable and channel-hopping, seeking collaborative and
engaging relationships. In order to investigate this further, a focus group is used so as to ascertain how today’s consumers consumer and
interact with media, as well as investigating the claim that age plays an important role (those born after 1980 being ‘digital natives’ and thus far
more accustomed to technology and digital media). Five cases were used in the focus group, all of which can be classified as digimodern, i.e.
they allow for interaction with the consumer.
The results of the focus group were overwhelming; media consumption has changed irreversibly and this, together with other technological
advances, has resulted in today’s consumers being impatient and demanding. Although the cases were seen as fun, innovative and entertaining
by the participants, the relationship between effort and reward was seen to be far too uneven for it to be worthwhile. In some cases, the final
message and/or sender were completely lost in the case.
Ultimately, all the cases were seen as taking too much time and/or effort to decipher what was, in the end, something that could have been
presented in a much more straightforward manner.
In conclusion, the study finds that while the shift of digimodernism is a legit one, having absolute effects on media consumption, consumers and
marketing, it also presents a paradox; while technology allows for incredibly interactive campaigns, the digimodern consumer is far too
demanding and impatient to participate in these campaigns. Furthermore, these campaigns are sometimes so entertaining; the message/sender
is quickly forgotten, overshadowed by the effects.
Consumers simply do not have the time or patience to take part in or decipher complex campaigns. Marketing must engage yet respect timestarved
consumers, making fun, quick, relevant and honest campaigns, through which a clear message is delivered promptly, allowing the
consumer to interpret it, and move on.
Age proved not to play a significant role. However, it is suggested that future research could carry out further focus groups, with younger
participants, and/or different nationalities. Those born in 1980 can not truly have grown up with digital technology no more than those born in
1978, consequently, a focus group with participants born from 1990-onwards might prove to yield very different results.
One of my all-time favourite faux-pas is that of Clifford Stoll in an article entitled ‘The Internet? Bah!’ from Newsweek in 1995 (Newsweek, 1995);
“Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we'll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Internet.
Uh, sure. (…) We're promised instant catalog shopping—just point and click for great deals. We'll order airline tickets over the
network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obselete. So how come my local mall does
more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month? Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money
over the Internet—which there isn't—the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople. What's missing
from this electronic wonderland? Human contact. Discount the fawning techno-burble about virtual communities. Computers and
networks isolate us from one another.”
Needless to say, Clifford was….well, he was wrong. But then, he could be forgiven for this thought. In 1995, the internet was barely recognisable
from the internet we know today (Chapman, 2009). It had only just become commercial; Netscape had been launched the year before, webmail
wouldn’t arrive for another two years, and it wasn’t until 1998 that the now all familiar Google would be launched – in beta, of course (Chapman,
2009). Yet at the time of writing, postmodernism was in its heyday (Firat & Venkatesh, 1995; Featherston, 1991). This is the paradigm that of
course ‘produced’ consumerism (Brown, 1999; ), which in turn, produced ‘us’; the postmodern consumer. The consumer who is typified by
individualism, choice, greed, dissatisfaction, customisation (Nauman & Hufner, 1985; Firat & Venkatesh, 1995; Kotler & Kartajaya, 2010;
Lipovetsky, 1983, 1987, 1990 (cited in Cova, 1997; 299)); Weil, 1994; Dholakia, Firat & Venkatesh, 1994), and who is represented as,
“…restless, cynical, world weary, self obsessed hedonists demanding instant gratification and ever-increasing doses of stimulation . . . a moronic
inferno of narcissists cretinized by television” (Lasch, 1978; Callinicos, 1989; cited in Brown, 1994: 36). As Dholakia, Firat and Venkatesh
asserted (1995: 53); “postmodernity is consumerism, and consumerism is postmodernity”. And this was, remember, before Amazon.com
existed; before Facebook; before email; before Twitter; before online shopping of any kind existed. If we were the postmodern consumer before
all of this, can we really be the same postmodern consumer now?
The internet democratised information (Adelson, 2008), leaving the already fickly postmodern consumer with their “inbuilt early warning system
that detects incoming commercial messages, no matter how subtle, and automatically neutralises them” (Brown, 2003: 5) with eyes wide open,
relentless in their pursuit for information. It paved the way for social networks and social media, which in turn have thrown open the doors to
instant, global communication further shifting the balance of power between brand and consumer to a point where it can quite easily be argued
that the consumer is an integral part of the marketing mix (Christensen, Firat & Torp, 2005: 159).
Though it’s not just the internet; technology has become an integral part of our lives. From the way we communicate with each other, to the way
we shop, and from the way we consume media, to what kinds of media we have to consume, technology has had fundamental effects on all of
these. The way we view television is radically different; not only is it now digital, but we can fast forward through adverts, pause live broadcasts,
and record without using any kind of disc or ‘tape’. We use our remote controls to ‘vote’, or to access further information (BBC), in other words;
we interact with our televisions, or with the programmes or adverts. But why watch programmes on television when you can watch them online?
Where you can interact with adverts to such an extent, you can create your own customised ending? If we’re going that far, why don’t you
become the star of the advert? Or be the creative force behind the advert? Surely we can not believe us to be in the same period of
postmodernism as we were back in 1995?
At the same time the Newsweek article was published, other theorists were arguing for the end of postmodernism (Eshelman, 2008; Lipovetsky,
2005; Bourriaud, 2009), most citing technology as a major reason for this death. While I do not claim that postmodernism is over, what I will
come to argue in this paper is that with technological power in our hands, we must begin to recognise that we are moving out of ‘traditional’, if
you will, postmodernism. We are, as a society, beginning to shift into a new cultural paradigm, a paradigm that has been called ‘digimodernism’.
What this paper will examine is;
How does the shift into digimodernism radically alter society, further upsetting the balance between consumer and
marketing, and what challenges does this shift present to marketing communications?
Structure and Delimitation
This paper is set out in what I hope is a logical, straightforward and easy to read manner. Following this paragraph, I will give discuss some points
that came to my attention during the research and writing process, points that would otherwise make the results of this paper quite different,
and points that must be taken in to consideration when reading my argumentation. Following this section, I will introduce my hypothesis where I
state what I believe to be the current situation regarding society, marketing and digimodernism.
The next section is my method. This section covers not only my choice of theory, but also introduces those that provide corroboration to my
arguments. I also discuss my choice of empirical research method, as well as a small paragraph on the style of the paper. Following this, I begin
the body of my paper by taking a chronological approach and working from postmodernism through to digimodernism, enabling the reader to see
how the paradigms have developed, and blur into one another.
Next, I introduce my focus group, giving the theory behind it, reasons for it, and other necessary aspects surrounding my choice. From here I
delve into the analysis; a detailed examination of the results of my focus group, balancing my results with theory and thereby providing firm
ground from which to give my conclusion. After my conclusion, which will sum up the findings, and provide not only an answer to my problem
statement, but also prove my hypothesis right or wrong, I will discuss some suggestions for future research.
There are a number of facts that one must bear in mind for this paper. The first most important one I believe to be that my focus group was held
in Denmark, and all participants are of a Danish background. This is important as the theory of digimodernism is firmly rooted in technology,
technology which is not as fully integrated in Denmark as it is in other Western countries, for example, the United Kingdom, or the United States 1 .
This of course has some effect on ‘where’ the Danish society is compared to other countries, and thus, how much society (my participants) are
‘aware’ of some of the tenants of digimodernism. However, while this might have had some effect, there are other factors that factors that
present greater possibly variations, such as age which will be discussed during my discussion for future research.
The somewhat ‘brief’ section on postmodernism and the postmodern consumer is of course because this knowledge is assumed at this level. On
top of this, it would take up valuable time and space. For this same reason, I have chosen to base my paper on the one major theory of
digimodernism. This is also due to the fact, as will be discussed, that as this is still a very new area, concurrent theories are quite hard to find,
however, I have used others in order to authenticate my claims.
I would have liked to have gone in to detail regarding social media as this is clearly an area strongly related to digimodernism. However, due to
time constrictions, I am unable to do so.
I presume that social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Skype and Google Voice need not be explained in detail.
All videos mentioned and used in my PowerPoint presentation can be found as .avi files on the USB stick, provided with the CD of the focus
group, at the end of the paper. I will not describe the videos unless it is necessitated at some point in the paper.
The last point I’d like to make clear is that spelling and grammatical mistakes in quotes, are taken directly from the original source.
1 A good example here would be digital television. The US switched in 2007 (DTV.gov), the UK in 2007 (BBC News), and Denmark in 2009 (DR)
Qr codes & images
Throughout this paper, as you might already have noticed, I have placed QR codes and other images. QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes,
created in Japan in 1994 (Pedersen, 2010). They can contain alphanumeric character, symbols, binary, and other kinds of code yet remain
simple (due to the lack of a third dimension) and can therefore be quickly read by mobile phones with cameras, smartphones, and other
scanners. The reason I’m using them is partly due to the fact that, well, they’re fun, and also to highlight technology today, and how information
from one source, i.e. this paper, can be instantly linked to a source that is intangible and virtually anywhere in the world. Some of them are text,
some are video clips. Some of them are relevant, but by no means 100% necessary for the paper, and some of them, as you might find out, are
just for the hell of it. It will not be a requirement to scan any of the codes, as I can not presume that a) you have time, b) you want to, and c) you
have a phone capable of reading the codes. However, I do hope you give one a go, and see where you end up. They are also discussed in the
focus group, so this can serve as an introduction to them.
The images used throughout the paper carry no significant meaning. They are to break up the text, and are mostly from a technological era long
gone, purely used to make a interesting and fun visual link.
It is my belief that due to the overwhelming influence and integration of technology in our everyday lives, we have moved out of a steady state of
postmodernism, and in to a transitory phase of digimodernism. In this state, technology has become such an integral part of our lives, that we no
longer consume media in ‘traditional’ ways; we scan barcodes to access websites, we watch television online, we shop through our mobiles, we
change the outcome of an advert, and vote or participate in television programmes through our mobiles – just to name a few. This has of course
affected marketing. Consumers are now able to participate not only in the actual marketing, but also in the planning, conception, development
The most obvious challenge presented to marketing because of this is of how exactly marketing can integrate the consumer in these steps. But
this leads on to the more critical question of should marketing integrate the consumer?
Mountain Dew, Heinz Tomato Ketchup, Peperami, and Ford are just a few examples of companies who are currently using, or have used,
consumers in the making of their product (Mountain Dew 2 ); the making of their adverts (Heinz and Peperami 3 ); and the entire marketing of their
product (Ford 4 ), to great media coverage, yet my hypothesis is this; while media is undoubtedly being consumed in new ways, and while we’re
seeing a rush of interesting and fun campaigns, where consumers must interact with the advert in order to fully understand it, or receive it, my
hypothesis is that this will soon come to an end. Consumers do not have the time or patience to solve puzzles, or scan a code in order to access
a piece of information they could have simply read. Technology maybe integrated in society, but ‘just because we can, doesn’t mean we should’.
2 For more, please see http://www.dewmocracy.com/
3 For more, please see http://www.topthistelevision.com/ and http://bit.ly/c1DADG
4 For more, please see http://www.fordvehicles.com/fiestamovement/
Furthermore, while companies and brands may go on using social media, e.g. Facebook, as means through which consumers and brands can
interact, communicate and collaborate (in terms of recommendations and suggestions), the role of consumers in the creative conception of an
advert or campaign will not continue to be a fundamental one. Simply put, no consumer would have ever dreamed up having a gorilla play Phil
Collins’ ‘In the Air Tonight’ to advertise Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Chocolate 5 .
Throughout the course of this paper, I will seek to answer my problem statement and in doing so, prove, or disprove, my hypothesis.
5 Please see USB for video
Over the following pages, I will discuss the theories I have chosen to use, as well as those I have not, giving reasons for my preference. I will also
examine a number of other points, from my choice of title, to the method of empirical research. Although this section is quite long, it is intended
to answer any questions the reader may have regarding the choice of subject, theory and method before the main body of the paper is reached,
thereby giving the paper a smooth flow.
Digimodernism; the Future is Now!
Firstly, I’d like to explain the reason for my choice of title; Digimodernsim; the Future is Now! I chose this title for a number of reasons. Firstly, it
sums up my paper in a sentence. As will come to be discussed, we are shifting into a new paradigm, one which would have seem far too seemed
far too futuristic to be believable just 15 years ago, and one which in some respects still seems slightly unbelievable. With today’s average
pocket calculator containing more power than the computers that sent the Apollo 11 mission to the moon (Saran, 2009) and with faster, smaller
and powerful computers being released what feels like every month, technology has thrown us into a sci-fi age. We might not be driving floating
cars and living on Mars, but you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking it’s not far off.
Secondly, sci-fi itself is another reason for the title. ‘The future is now!’ is oddly reminiscent of a 1950s advertisement, and the sci-fi age of the
50s, á la ‘Lost in Space’, or later, ‘Forbidden Planet’. Short, concise, and slightly fantastical, it captures attention and for a second, we can
realise that this time we live in is really rather spectacular.
Finally, we do live in a rather spectacular age. If we take a step back and look at what we can do, and what the generation before us could do,
the gap is staggering. The calculator vs. space computer is but one example of how technology has sped forward. Mobile phones are another
example. Remember the first mobile phones? Now think of the iPhone 4; augmented reality; online access via mobiles; barcode readers; the list
goes on and on.
As I will come to argue in this paper, changes in technology have altered the way in which consumers use media, how they communicate, and
how they should be communicated to. It is in this respect that we must realise that the future of the postmodern consumer is the digimodern
consumer, and that already today, we are the digimodern consumer.
Is Postmodernism Really Dead?
The claim that “postmodernism is dead” can be traced back through the years to 1977 (Kirby, 2010a) with a number of professors and theorists
declaring that the paradigm in which today’s society seems to flourish, in fact ended before a lot of modern society was even born.
Yet this paper does not claim that postmodernism is dead, has ended, or indeed that it ever will or can end (Kirby, 2009: 5). Instead, what I will
come to argue represents a shift; an extension of postmodernism, or rather; an undeniable mutation in technology which has influenced society
in such a integral way, and in such an overwhelming manner, that it has pushed us forward, so that we (at the very least) have begun the journey
in to a new cultural paradigm.
These technological mutations and societal changes manifest in some kind of revolution, a revolution which affects the way we live our lives, the
way we communicate, the way we interact with each other, and the way we interact with media. As a result of this, the way by which we, or
‘consumers’, are reached has changed, and it is this claim that will be discussed in the later part of this paper.
As Alan Kirby so rightly states; “The world has changed and theory must change with it” (2009: 32). Mr Kirby is of course not the only theorist
who has contested this, and although he is the primary author I have chosen to use (for reasons I will discuss later in this section), I will be
bringing in to play other theories which support his claims. In the following paragraphs, I will introduce digimodernism, the main theory I will be
using, as well as the main supplementary theories and theorists.
There are a number of less crucial theorists who also provide interesting premises similar to digimodernism, yet for the most part, these focus on
the artistic world, or literature, which although of course relevant for a new paradigm (if in fact that’s what this is!), they do not quite provide the
same support as that of, for example, Robert Samuel. I will however introduce them, as although not indispensable, they do, nonetheless, all
make the similar claim that we have, at the very least, begun to edge away from postmodernism. Once introduced, I will also briefly discuss why I
have deemed them unsuitable as a major source.
As will become apparent, all these sources are – especially for the world of academia – new, some only just published. This unfortunately means
that compared to other subjects, I have limited access to sources, but it is my belief that this is a highly important and relevant topic, and it is my
hope that the comparative shortness of sources is justified by this relevance and importance.
This belief, of course, has both upsides and downsides. The upsides are that I have almost free reign in my discussions, and have the luxury of
not being too ‘constrained’ by existing texts and theories. The downside is that it could be argued that I lack sufficient sources with which to
validate my claims. I have encountered this problem before, and after arguing my case (i.e. I thought it would be exciting, interesting and
extremely apt to tread some new ground in the marketing arena), I was met with the rather deflating reply that ‘next time I should choose a
subject which has been written about before.’ Of course I understand the reasons behind this reply, but at the same time it frustrated me,
immensely. Suffice to say; I realise that there might be a lack of sources in regard to digimodernism, but this is always the case with new
theories. I hope I argue my points sufficiently enough (with enough sources!) to prove that digimodernism is the most suitable term that sums up
the relatively recent changes in society , and therefore is a fitting term for the ‘movement’ we now find ourselves in, and the movement that
marketing must now wake up to.
The main theory in this paper is digimodernism, which as a theory, has roots which can be traced back around 15 years. It is not named, of
course, but the claims of postmodernism being ‘over’ or of postmodern marketing needing a revolution around this time are discussed by various
theorists and authors in texts and books (Samuels, 2010; Lipovetsky, 2005; Dholakia, Firat, & Venkatesh, 1995; Brown, 1999; Addis & Podestà,
2005; Kotler & Kartajaya, 2010). However, digimodernism, as a term, is still rather new. Alan Kirby first called this “modulated continuity”
(2009; 2) of postmodernism, ‘pseudo-modernism’, a term which originated in 2006 in an essay for the journal ‘Philosophy Now’ (Kirby, 2010b).
Yet in his book from 2009, ‘Digimodernism; How New Technologies Dismantle the Postmodern and Reconfigure our Culture’ 6 the paradigm is
renamed as digimodernism (2009: 3).
It is this book that I have chosen to use as my primary literary source for a number of reasons. Firstly, quite simply, it struck me as the most
relevant in terms of marketing, as “in its pure form, the digimodernism text permits the reader or viewer to intervene textually, physically to
make text, to add visible content or tangibly shape narrative development” (Kirby, 2009; 1). The implications of this (which I will go in to detail
with later) are obviously apparent. Secondly, the changes in technology in recent years have been so fantastical, that it seems only rational that
they would also have a significant effect on how we live our lives, and thus, the society in which we live.
Many theorists (Simmons, 2008; Samuels, 2010; Firat & Dholakia, 2006; Kotler & Kartajaya, 2010; Fitchett & Shankar, 2002) have recognised
and acknowledge the effects that technology has had on both consumers and thus society, yet discuss them in a postmodern frame. In their
paper from 2005, Michela Addis and Stefano Podestà discuss how marketing has fallen in to a “vicious circle” (2005: 401) with no way out, yet
still look towards postmodernity to provide an answer.
6 I will refer to this book simply as ’Digimodernism’ for the remainder of the paper.
It is true that even postmodernism has had a hard time being accepted in the tried and tested world of marketing. In his book ‘Postmodern
Marketing’ from 1993, Stephan brown tried to convince people of the serious implications that postmodernism presented to marketing. He
discusses how “marketing thought has thus far been comparatively uncontaminated by postmodernism” (1993: 46) and how the Kotlerite
assumptions of “analysis, planning, implementation and control” (1993: 7) still reign. The paper goes on to discuss the limitations that
marketing sets upon itself by not fully recognising postmodernism; “The undeniable achievements and, after decades of research, the sheer
inertia of modern marketing are sufficient to ensure that it will not be readily dislodged, particularly by a philosophy which, in its more extreme
manifestations, appears primarily to propose nihilism…”. Yet as Dekel, Prince and Beaver claim in ‘The Changing Orientation of Marketing; an
Emerging Post-Modern Perspective’, perhaps, however, modern marketing can be upset by undeniable technological changes (2007: 253-254);
“It could be argued that in the future, given the opportunity, customers will want to design for themselves and purchase
individualized artefacts. This is mainly because they have changed from passive recipients of goods and services to pro-active
assemblers of signs and symbols. This will be an important sea-change for marketers and organizations alike operating in this new
It is my belief that with such monumental changes taking place in society due to technology, the paradigm of postmodernism quite simply must
be changing in some respect. Although there are a number of theorists (who I will come to mention) who also believe that postmodernism has
had its heyday, none of these have attributed technology as the source of the changes to the same extent as Kirby.
“There are various ways of defining digimodernism. It is the impact on cultural forms of computerization (inventing some, altering
others). It is a set of aesthetic characteristics consequent on that process and gaining a unique cast from their new context. It’s a
cultural shift, a communicative revolution, a social organisation. The most immediate way of describing digimodernism is this: it’s a
new form of textuality” (Kirby, 2009: 50).
As this quote suggests, the book focuses on the changes that have occurred in technology from around the mid-1990s, and the effects these
changes have had on how consumers receive and interact with media channels. These can be ‘new media’, the internet for example, but also
more traditional media, such as magazines or television, which are simply consumed in a different manner 7 . Kirby argues that due to technology,
the consumer has been granted an authoritative role, and thus creates text where none existed before (2009: 51), not as a result of reading and
interpreting suggested meaning, but as an act separated from their reading or viewing; the act is physical (2009: 51), examples include QR
codes, interactive YouTube videos, the television programmes ‘Big Brother’, ‘Pop Idol’, Wikipedia, and the computer game ‘World of Warcraft’, as
well as countless other games. Yet in the digimodern text, the author is always plural; the digimodern text (and indeed digimodernism) is
characterised by being incomplete, being hard to capture, constant shifting of textual functional roles (e.g. author, producer, reader etc),
unlimited, and inherently digital (Kirby, 2009: 51); “Put simply, it is the impact of computerization on all forms of art, culture and textuality. It is
also the dominant cultural force field of the 21st century, the successor to a postmodernism which reigned supreme throughout the 1980s and
1990s but is now widely felt to have had its day” (Kirby, date unknown).
As I will argue in this paper, this revolution in text has had, will have, and must have, revolutionary changes in marketing communications, due to
the way consumers interact with media, and consume media. As Jonathan Harris says (Harris, 2009), “The momentum of technological growth is
too strong for us to prevent it from defining our future. Like it or not, our future world will largely be digital.”
In order to substantiate my claims of digimodernism, I will also draw up on Robert Samuel, author of the recently published (2010) ‘New Media,
Cultural Studies, and Critical Theory after Postmodernism: Automodernity from Zizek to Laclau’. For this paper I will be drawing upon both this
book, and his 2008 essay from the book ‘Digital Youth, Innovation, and the Unexpected’, edited by Tara McPherson, entitled ‘Auto-Modernity
7 This will be discussed later in the paper
after Postmodernism: Autonomy and Automation in Culture, Technology, and Education’. Both his aforementioned book and this essay argue that
we have moved into a new cultural period which he names ‘automodernity’; a new world formed by the encounter between digital automation
and personal autonomy. This encounter of mechanisation and liberty, allows traditional borders between areas of our lives to be broken down,
giving consumers a vast amount of power. Samuels argues;
“[T]he more mass society makes us feel that we are just a number and that our voices do not count, the more we need to simply use
technology to have our autonomy registered through automation. For example, one of the appealing aspects of popular television
shows like American Idol is that they allow for the individual viewer to call in and register his or her own preference and presence
This quote demonstrates the impact technology has upon a text, and thus the new power and abilities this gives to the consumer. This change
“represents a social, psychological, and technological reaction to postmodernity” (2010: ix).
Although Samuels’ book focuses on the social aspects of society (politics and so forth), it does keep the media as a central role, as well as
highlighting changes in consumer behaviour brought about by technological development. Samuels’ theories differ to those of Kirby as the
technological developments discussed here are less focused on the consumption of media, and more on technological products and how we use
them. For example, he discusses how iPods (2010: 20) have democratised music, enabling us to listen to our own playlists, wherever we want.
Mobile phones are also discussed, and the tendency for people to forget where they are when using them, stating (2010:21);
“Like so many other automodern technologies, cell phones allow people to enter into a technological flow where the difference
between the individual and the machine breaks down. In other terms, due to the fluid and immersive nature of these technologies,
people forget that they are using them, and in many ways, they become one with their machines.”
Yet I place more value upon Samuels’ texts than the following theorists precisely because of the close relation between technology and
society he emphasises. This emphasis is similar to Kirby’s, as overall, it has resulted in us moving into “a new era of cultural history, which
is dominated by the paradoxical combination of social automation and individual autonomy” (Samuels, 2010; 3).
Altermodernity, Performatism, and Hypermodernity
In relation to digimodernism, there were a handful of other theories I encountered which all claim that we have moved on, or are moving on, from
postmodernism, but which focus on other cultural aspects rather than technology. Of course, if my paper were less technologically orientated,
perhaps these would have sufficed, yet I felt they lacked relevance and, compared to Alan Kirby and Robert Samuels, they lacked the strength to
truly offer support to my arguments. However, what they do provide is further confirmation, as previously mentioned, that there are a number of
theorists and authors who claim that we have moved, or are moving, in to a new cultural paradigm.
Nicolas Bourriaud is an art critic and is currently the Gulbenkian Curator for Contemporary Art at Tate Britain. He declared postmodernism as
dead, quite dramatically, with his ‘Altermodern Manifesto’ at the Tate Triennial exhibition in 2009 (Bourriaud, 2009). In this, he describes
altermodern culture as; “A new modernity […] reconfigured to an age of globalisation – understood in its economic, political and cultural
aspects” (Bourriaud, 2009). He focuses on the effects that globalisation is having on the arts, and sees artists as responding to the ‘creolisation’
of the world;
“Postmodernism is over, and we don’t know exactly what’s going on after that. Altermodern is in a way a dream-catcher, trying to
capture the characteristics of this modernity to come, this modernity which will be specific for the 21 st century. Today we are more
living in a maze, and we have to get meanings out of this maze, and this is the big stakes around altermodern, what is our
modernity, what is the modernity of today?” (Bourriaud, 2009).
While this might be true, it does not provide enough valid support for my arguments in this paper, as it lacks both material, and discussions of
technology and marketing.
Raoul Eshelman is another theorist who claims that postmodernism is on the way out, and in place of it, we find ‘performatism’, a theory rooted
in Eric Gans' generative anthropology and the philosophy of monism, but focused on ‘old’ media (Kirby, 2010a). In his book, entitled
‘Performatism, or the End of Postmodernism’, he defines performatism as, “Performatism may be defined most simply as an epoch in which a
unified concept of sign and strategies of closure have begun to compete directly with – and displace – the split concept of sign and the
strategies of boundary transgression typical of postmodernism.” (Eshelman: 1). In simpler terms;
“A performatist subject is aware of limitations yet acts anyway. A postmodernist may also be aware of limitations, but the approach
to life is much more likely to be suspicious and ironic. The performatist is unhindered by those fallibilities (limits of knowledge, lack
of appropriate skills or debilitating attributes) because he or she chooses to act because the act itself is identical in meaning with
the person acting (the act is no longer a sign that creates or generates meaning - the meaning is in the act)” (Sweeney, 2007).
While this is an interesting theory, and even one that could be linked to digimodernism (the interactive adverts and film trailers that I will come
discuss are a good example of the meaning being in the act), Eshelman concentrates on the old media, and rarely discusses any new.
As I’ve said, I will use Robert Samuel as one of my major sources, yet it was a close call between him and Gilles Lipovetsky. Gilles Lipovetsky
describes his theory of ‘hypermodernity’ in more sociological terms than that of Bourriaud or Eshelmann (Lipovetsky, cited in Kirby, 2010a;
“The 'post' of postmodern still directed people's attentions to a past that was assumed to be dead; it suggested that something had
disappeared without specifying what was becoming of us as a result ... The climate of epilogue is being followed by the awareness of
a headlong rush forwards, of unbridled modernization. The epoch of postmodernity is now ended.”
He sees hypermodernity emerging as society enters into the age of ‘hyper’, characterized by hyperconsumption (the third phase of consumption),
hypermodernity (which follows postmodernity) and hypernarcissism (Kirby, 2009: 41). Lipovetsky claims that we are living in a fluid society, one
that is changing so quickly that it is meaningless to look back on our past to try to understand it, but that ultimately, the maximisation of
modernity is today being experienced across a society dominated by hyperconsumption (Lipovetsky, 2005; 23). While this is to some extent
similar to digimodernism (that is to say; the fluidity and hyperconsumption of hypermodernism can be equated to the new power and abilities of
the digimodern consumer), technology – in terms of computerisation – is not readily discussed, suggesting instead that hypermodernity is of a
social and historical quality, not technological, which, needless to say, does not give me the substantiation for my claims in this paper.
As mentioned, throughout the paper I refer to other theorists in order to validate my arguments and provide support for my overall claims. Quite
often, I refer to certain papers which focus on postmodern marketing theory, where the authors discus changes that are taking place in society
but do so using a postmodern frame. In these cases, I use these papers together with digimodern theory to argue that society has changed to
such an extent, that it is illogical to continue to view it from a postmodern perspective. For example, as Firat and Dholakia say (2004: 152;
“As different post-consumer communities (re) (de)construct their modes of being, marketing will have to exhibit a fluid resilience in
adapting to these changing modes. The role of technology, especially, infotainment technologies, in enabling these transformations
Or from Geoff Simmons’ paper (2008: 305);
“The Internet has emerged as the virtual glue, which many people in postmodern societies are using to bond together in an
increasingly fragmented world. A plethora of online tribal communities have developed, based upon four essential elements
identified by Johnson and Ambrose (2006): people, purposes, protocols and technology.”
Both recognise and acknowledge the presence and significance of technology for the postmodern consumer, but both still refer to society as
being postmodern, which, as this paper will argue, is no longer strictly true. Being able to look past the postmodern perspective, and being willing
to be open to the possibility that society has begun to ‘move on’, gives us a fresh perspective on society; a digimodernist perspective.
Other theorists and authors from the ‘postmodern camp’ I will refer to are A. Fuat Firat, Nikhilesh Dholakia, Alladi Venkatesh, Stephan Brown,
Addis, and Stefano Podestà. Philip Kotler and Hermawan Kartajaya provide a particularly interesting paper. Kotler could be said to be the ‘granddaddy’
of marketing, and provided us with ‘Kotlerite’ (Brown, 2002 – see Long Life to Marketing Research) models and theories that are still
used in today’s marketing; models and theories that are highly modernistic, and far out of place in today’s society. However, his (and Kartajaya)
new book, ‘Marketing 3.0; Values-Driven Marketing’ addresses this issue, and surprisingly acknowledges how pivotal the consumer is in today’s
marketing (2010; 2).
These theorists demonstrate how there is a general feeling of unease in the marketing world. They recognise that the postmodern consumer can
not be reached with the established Kotlerite marketing methods, and that changes in technology are having an effect on consumers, society
Empirical Research Method
With my choice of theory in place, and a hypothesis to prove, I decided to hold a focus group. This would provide me with invaluable data and
insights that I could then analyse and use as sound, genuine data in the deliberations surrounding my case. This data could then be juxtaposed
with my theory and hypothesis, in order to form my conclusion.
The focus group was chosen over individual interviews (i.e. qualitative over quantitative) for a number of reasons 8 , but primarily because of the
• Synergism – a wider bank of data emerges through the group interaction
• Snowballing – the statements of one respondent initiate a chain reaction of additional comments
• Stimulation – the group discussion generates excitement about a topic
• Security –the group provides a comfort and encourages candid responses
• Spontaneity – because participants are not required to answer every question, their responses are more spontaneous and genuine
(Schumm, Sinagub & Vaughn, 1996: 45)
Furthermore, there were a number of cases I wanted to show the interviewees, cases that I hoped would provoke discussion, which would
hopefully enable me to examine not only what people think but how they think and why they think that way (Schumm, Sinagub & Vaughn, 1996:
8 Further reasons than those mentioned here, and a detailed discussion regarding my choice of empirical method can be found under the section Methodical Considerations
The cases were accompanied by discussion led by open questions, which enabled me, through the analysis, to gain insights into a mix of
consumer’s media usage, and views on advertising in today’s society. These insights provided me with the valid empirical research I needed in
order to justifiably address my theory and hypothesis, thereby enabling me to draw a legitimate conclusion.
Finally, a word on the style of this paper. I have chosen to adopt a slightly more informal turn of phrase throughout this paper, partly because it’s
easier to read, and partly because, in light of the subject matter, strict, institutional and highly academic language seems out of place. In the
digimodern age, where we are all connected, where information is democratised, and where modernism is defunct, openness, transparency, and
equality rules. I write this paper as I would explain it to a friend. To make my point clear, I will quote Stephan Brown (2002);
“…writing in a ‘scientific’ manner isn’t the only way of writing about marketing. There is no law that says marketing discourse must
be as-dry-as-dust, though a perusal of the principal academic journals might lead one to think otherwise.”
I quite agree.
It is in this, and the following sections, that I will discuss and examine digimodernism theory; where it has come from, why it exists, and what,
exactly, it is. This is my main theoretical segment of this paper which will be divided up in to smaller sections so as to provide an easier read
which will in turn make for a better understanding of the theory and its origins.
I begin with a brief examination of postmodernism and the postmodern consumer, and then move on to more detailed description of
digimodernism and what typifies the digimodern consumer. Discussing the paradigms in this way is not only chronological and logical, but also
emphasises the claim that digimodernism does not signal a clean break from postmodernism. It will become clear through reading about the two
paradigms that while digimodernism contains many of the defining traits of postmodernism, it also embodies unique characteristics that make it
quite clearly distinguishable from postmodernism.
Once the two paradigms have been discussed, I will take a quick look at the blurred line between the two. There are many situations, especially
in recent years, where postmodern theory and theorists have described digimodernism, digimodern situations, and even the digimodern
consumer, yet still place them under postmodernism. While this might be strictly true (as we have not fully left the paradigm), it will become
apparent that digimodernism is a better suited depiction of both the consumer and moment in time. In this section, I will highlight some of these
situations in order to show that while the two are clearly interrelated, postmodernism can no longer claim supremacy.
After all this theory, I will then go on to present my empirical research; the focus group and analysis.
Postmodernism; from where are we coming?
Postmodernism grew out of modernist society, dominated by metanarratives and an absolute truth (Firat & Venkatesh 1995: 242), and created,
as Brown says, “a world of unexpected, unpredictable, uncontrollable, unremitting; some would say unnecessary, upheaval” (2006: 213). A
world where Addis and Podesta (2005 cited in Simmons 2008: 299) saw society as being ruled by the four Cs of change, complexity, chaos, and
contradiction. Out of this unstable society, Firat & Venkatesh (1995: 252-255) posited that certain definitive tenets of the postmodern market
had emerged; ‘fragmentation’, ‘hyperreality’, ‘the decentred subject’, and ‘reversal of production and consumption’. These conditions create the
possibility for ‘juxtapositions of opposites’ which (Dholakia, Firat & Venkatesh 1995: 42) presents to consumers the ability to “(re)present
different (self-)images in fragmented moments thereby liberating them from the somewhat modernistic conformity of a single, continuous and
consistent image throughout life; a liberation the postmodern generation seemed to long for”. Postmodern society is one of relentless change,
where the solid foundations of science and belief that modernism clung to no longer exist (Dholakia, Firat & Venkatesh 1995: 1); instead society
is irrational, prone to change, and “[w]hat in modernist sensibility would be considered disjointed, paradoxical and inconsistent, hence
schizophrenic and pathological, is not so considered in postmodern sensibility” (Dholakia, Firat & Venkatesh 1995; 43).
It could be argued that a further ‘C’ could perhaps be added to those of Addis and Podesta, that of ‘consumerism’. The postmodern fragmented
consumer is inundated with a plethora of advertisements and media, resulting in postmodern condition being most conspicuous in marketing
(Brown, 1993; Firat & Venkatesh, 1993, cited in Christensen, Firat & Torp, 2005). While modernism claimed the consumer as king (Cova 1996:
497), postmodernism “elevates consumption to a level on par with production, where consuming is also viewed as a value-producing activity”
(Firat & Venkatesh 1995: 242). This ‘new breed’ of fragmented, perceptive consumers living in a postmodern world, constantly consuming and
producing, has resulted in marketing and postmodernity becoming “so intertwined that it is no longer possible to treat the two subjects at arm’s
length or as peripherally-related topics” (Dholakia, Firat & Venkatesh 1995: 53); postmodernity is consumerism, and consumerism is
The Postmodern Consumer
Firat and Venkatesh (1995: 255) believe that the postmodern conditions of fragmentation and decenteredness best describe the postmodern
consumer. A fragmented and decentred consumer presents a “jigsaw collage of multiple representations of selves and preferences even when
approaching the same product category” (Proctor & Kitchen 2002: 148) and are, “unambiguously defined by their occupation, social class,
demographics etc” (Proctor & Kitchen 2002: 149). As previously stated, these conditions lead to juxtapositions of opposites, which essentially
leave the marketer with a frivolous and splintered consumer, eager to tend to each, with an identical amount of enthusiasm, of their fluid,
indefinable identities, identities which are switched between for reasons only known to that consumer.
They are represented as, “…restless, cynical, world weary, self obsessed hedonists demanding instant gratification and ever-increasing doses of
stimulation . . . and a moronic inferno of narcissists cretinized by television” (Lasch, 1978; Callinicos, 1989; cited in Brown, 1994: 36). They
have been able to leave behind the certainties and uniformities of the modern era – where mass production produced mass marketing which
produced mass consumption which produced mass production – and instead thrive on individualism, instability and fluidity; all defining aspects
of the postmodern epoch (Brown 2006: 215). The postmodern consumers are empowered, multiple, and fickle; and, as Brown writes, “…wise to
the wiles of marketers. They possess a ‘marketing reflex’, an inbuilt early warning system that detects incoming commercial messages, no
matter how subtle, and automatically neutralises them” (2003: 37).
Some authors (Kirby, 2009: 2/6 & Kirby 2010b; Kotler & Kartajaya 2010: 1; Ogneva, Chan & Morgan, 2010: 2) attribute this to the rise of the
internet, and the democratisation of information (Adelson, 2008), enabling consumers to ‘see through’ advertisements, understanding the whys
and hows, and as will become evident in the following sections, it is around this point where the postmodern consumer, becomes the digimodern
Digimodernism; Where are we Going?
Once again, I use the quote; “The world has changed and theory must change with it” (Kirby, 2009: 32). It’s a simple quote, but one that I feel
can not be contested. The world has changed, and it would be ignorant of us to think that the same theory from 20 years ago can be applied in a
world which has changed so dramatically in those 20 years.
So how has the world changed? In their book from 2000, Stan Davis and Christopher Meyer discuss how the elements of connectivity, speed and
intangibles will merge together to form a ‘blur’, a super connected world where “[e]verything is…electronically connected to everything else:
products, people, companies, countries, everything (2000: 5)”. They discuss how technology has changed, and will change, the world in which
we live, and state; “Think of telephones running on the Net, rather than the Net running on the phone system! (2000: 9)” Today, the idea of
telephones running on the net is very much a reality with Skype and more recently the introduction of Google Voice, and the exclamation mark
indicating a sense of wonder in Davis and Meyer’s quote seems oddly out of place. Yes, the world has changed, and for a very large part, we
have technology to thank for it.
As the Gutenberg press transformed the world (Firat & Dholakia, 2004: 140), moving cloistered knowledge into public spaces, and as the
introduction of the telephone altered the spatial and geographical framework of interpersonal communication (Hutchby, 2001: 173), so the
internet has had similar effects today. It has surpassed our wildest imaginations (not to mention Newsweek’s expectations), giving us access to
more information that we could ever use in a lifetime, information we can access virtually (no pun intended) anywhere, and at anytime. It has
changed the way we live our lives, the way we work, socialise, shop, meet people and very simply; communicate. Wireless access is the norm,
and Facebook recently gained its 500 millionth active user (Facebook, 2010) making it the third largest country in the world (Solis, 2010). It’s
true to say that “digital media and networks have become embedded in our everyday lives (Mizuko, 2007).” When Andy Warhol said his now
legendary sentence of, ‘In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes’ I doubt he could have realised the magnitude of his statement,
but today, perhaps it’s more appropriate to say we’re seeking our 15MB of fame (Envision, 2010; 73).
But it’s not just the internet; “…computerization has restructured or will restructure every form of textuality we know. It is not limited to online
network culture” (Kirby, date unknown). The iPhone revolutionised mobiles, paving the way for smartphones (Farber, 2007); television and radio
have gone ‘digital’, with many countries phasing out analogue for good (Switch Help), giving us the ability to fast forward through adverts (nearly
90% of us doing just that (Plunkett, 2010), and pause live television; we interact with reality or interactive television programmes through the
push of a button or simply by sending an SMS, immediately giving us a new form of control – authorship – over the programme; computer
generated effects (CGI) has allowed us to see, rendered in incredible detail, almost anything you choose to; from the beautiful world of Pandora 9
to the terrifying jaws of a Tyrannosaurus rex in Jurassic Park; iPods and other MP3 players give us the power to control what we want to hear, in
what order we want to hear, and when – even when in extremely public places we can be ‘alone’ (Samuels, 2010: 20). The purely spectacular
function of television, or passive ‘use’ of media, is fast becoming outmoded. We are no longer just a ‘recipient’, but just as much an ‘author’ as
those who ‘made’ the original text (be it programme, music etc); “the ‘text’ is characterised both by its hyper-ephemerality and by its instability. It
is made up by the ‘viewer’, if not in its content then in its sequence (Kirby, 2010b).” The ‘society of the spectacle’, announced by Debord in 1967
(libcom.org) and heralded as a defining feature of postmodernism by Firat and Venkatesh (1995: 250), no longer holds true. We participate
constantly, we do not simply watch. The simplest example of this are programmes such as ‘The X-Factor’ or ‘Big Brother’ (Samuels, 2008: 234),
both programmes which require active participation from the viewers in order to progress. Another example would be ‘Last Call’ by 13 th Street,
the first interactive theatrical trailer 10 .
9 From the film ‘Avatar’, a film which itself plays upon the possibilities given to us through technology
10 Please see USB for video
The text and voiceover on the trailer says;
“In regular horror movies, the viewers’ role is always the same. With 13 th Street, the horror film becomes an interactive thrill. The
viewers play their own part and are able to communicate with the protagonist. Therefore, we developed a software that allows for
such a dialogue via voice recognition. A flyer invites viewers to send their phone number to a speed dial database, the software
selects an audience member and phones him or her.
Then, through voice recognition, a dialogue between viewer and protagonist takes place. The answers are converted into commands
and the software plays out the corresponding scene. Because of this, each caller creates a different film.”
The extreme ways in which technology has altered our lifestyles is seen as having such a pronounced effect on society that Alan Kirby argues we
are beginning the shift in to a new cultural paradigm. He calls this shift, digimodernism.
As Firat, Venkatesh (1995: 239) and Jencks (cited in Firat & Venkatesh 1995: 239) agreed that postmodernism should be recognised as a
radical extension of modernism, Kirby too holds that digimodernism should not be conceived of as a direct substitute for postmodernism (2009:
2). He does, however, present the argument that the roots of digimodernism can be traced back through the years dominated by postmodernism
(Kirby, 2010b). In postmodernism, he says, “one read, watched, listened, as before. In digimodernism one phones, clicks, presses, surfs,
chooses, moves, downloads” (Kirby, 2010b). Digimodernism is, in the simplest terms, quite simply a continuation of postmodernism. It is a new
form of textuality (Kirby, 2009: 50), it is “another stage within modernity, a shift from one phase of history into another” (2009: 2).
The diagram below demonstrates in a simplified form the progression from one paradigm to another; the dotted lines are representative of the
lack of definite beginnings and ends to each paradigm, and the curved lines of each ‘paradigm’ reflect their ‘intensity’. Digimodernism, then, is
pictured as being the phases that sits ‘between’ postmodernism and the future paradigm we will find ourselves in.
Modernism postmodernism ?
Modernism postmodernism ?
The claim that postmodernism is ‘over’ is, as mentioned previously, nothing new. As far back as 1977, Nottingham Trent University sociologist
Mike Featherstone quotes a newspaper announcing in August 1977 that “postmodernism is dead” and that “post-postmodernism is now the
thing” (Kirby, 2010a). Jean-Michel Rabaté, professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Pennsylvania, says the term is
“now almost completely discarded” (Kirby, 2010a) for him. Yet as said, Kirby – and I concur – argues that it is not ‘dead’, but it is in a phase of
transition; as Ernst Breisach observed in 2003, “postmodernism has been, for some time now, in the aftermath of its creative period.” (Kirby,
When Firat and Venkatesh (1995: 251-255) first discussed their postmodern traits of hyperreality, fragmentation, reversal of production and
consumption, decentred subjects and juxtaposition of opposites in 1995 the internet (as we know it; that is to say it had a user interface) was
but a year old (Chapman, 2009), yet this represented digimodernism’s baby-steps. Kirby acknowledges digimodernism’s first impact, albeit a
slight one, as happening in the late 1990s or early 2000s;
“[Somewhere in this period] the emergence of new technologies re-structured the nature of the author, the reader and the text, and
the relationships between them. Postmodernism, like modernism and romanticism before it, fetishised the author. But the culture
we have now fetishises the recipient of the text to the degree that they become a partial or whole author of it” (Kirby, 2010a).
I am not claiming, and neither, I believe, is Kirby, that these quintessential postmodern characteristics are misplaced, and should in fact be
considered digimodern, but rather that they have become amplified through technology 11 . Postmodern society is, as Venkatesh noted, one
dominated by the media (cited in Goulding, 2003: 156), and made up of consumers who, “just want a better way to interact with marketers.
Smarter, technologically empowered, time-starved consumers want marketing that shows more respect for their time and attention. Until we get
11 This will be discussed in more detail under ’The Blurred Edges’.
etter at engaging consumers, they’re going to continue to push back and resist what advertisers are trying to deliver to them” (Kaplan, 2005).
What happened in the mid-1990s with the introduction of the internet was the means by which these consumers became smarter and
technologically empowered; at that time, the power balance between consumer and producer suddenly shook, and the author/reader
relationship began to change (Kirby, 2009: 2/6 & Kirby 2010b; Kotler & Kartajaya 2010: 1).
As the 13 th Street trailer demonstrated, technology now enables the viewer to become the author, creating, in perhaps the ultimate reversal of
consumption/production, their personalised movie. As Kirby says (2010b); “You click, you punch the keys, you are ‘involved’, engulfed, deciding.
You are the text, there is no-one else, no ‘author’; there is nowhere else, no other time or place. You are free: you are the text: the text is
In 1977, Roland Barthes declared that “the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the author” (Howard), in an age of
digimodernism, this role is restored through the pluralisation of the author and the constant, anonymous, consumption/production cycle (Kirby,
Digimodernism represents the impact of cultural forms of computerisation, “a cultural shift, a communicative revolution, a social organisation”
(Kirby, 2009: 50), but it is a revolution that will take time to fully come about. Where modernity saw technology as a tool or something to be
controlled by a subject, this relationship between subject and object is now reversed. For example, in a computer game, the object on the screen
moves around while the subject sits in their chair, motionless bar the movement of hands or fingers (Samuels, 2010: 22).
Henry Jenkins, Professor of Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, has noted how each
important paradigm shift in society is based on a burst of technological change and a slow period of adjustment (Jenkins, 2006 ). He claims that
“[w]e are in the midst of a period of prolonged and profound technological change.” Firat and Dholakia acknowledge that (2004: 124);
“[t]wo major forces are contributing to what may be epochal changes in contemporary human history: unprecedented developments
in several technologies and watershed transformations in culture. Technology-driven electronic methods of communicating and
transacting are aiding and accelerating these ongoing cultural transformations, as well as being affected by them.”
This period of technological change, this watershed transformation of culture; this, is digimodernism.
The Digimodern Consumer
Digimodernism has affected the consumer in two major ways. I have spoken at length about one of these, that of media consumption; i.e. the
way in which we watch television , the way we use our mobile phones, etc, and I won’t go in to more detail here. The second is that due to
technology becoming more and more integrated in our lives, we have gained the ability to be active, demanding, experience seeking,
knowledgeable and channel-hopping (Stuart-Menteth, Wilson & Baker, 2006: 415). We are witnessing the vanishing of the line between user
and product; humanism temporarily survived the era of electronic media only through the act of turning on a device. The knob or switch is like
the cover of a book; you open it, and close it. But when media become so entwined with life, it becomes hard to see where we begin, and our
media end. As William Gibson (cited in Morgan 2010) puts it; “One of the things our grandchildren will find quaintest about us is that we
distinguish the digital from the real… In the future, that will become literally impossible.”
It has been said there is a generation gap, roughly separating people before and after 1980 (Kirby, 2010b), those being born after, and being
raised with technology such as the internet, being known as ‘digital natives’ (Filloux, 2010). These digital natives are, as has been mentioned in
the postmodern consumer, wise to the acts of marketers and corporations. Trust in media, politicians or brands is at an all time low, with their
circle of friends – in most cases on Facebook – acting as their trusted source of information (Filloux, 2010), in fact, people are so convinced of
the value of peer networks that they will trust the advice of a total stranger over that of a professional marketer (Gillin 2007: xiv). Companies
have lost control – over their workforce, their customers, and as a result, their brands. Or, more precisely – what they are actually forced to give
up now is their need for control (Leberecht, 2010). Needless to say, this has strong repercussions on the marketing world. Ultimately,
digimodernism has ‘flattened’ marketing; consumers are not only aware of the tricks and techniques of marketing, but they are also part of the
mix, or the entire process. Whether it be through social media, campaigns, or through crowdsourcing adverts; consumers are involved.
In their 2009 paper, Bernard and Veronique Cova discuss the changing face of the consumer, and the marketing methods that have evolved
simultaneously with them. Over the past 20 years, out of around 100 new proposed new marketing approaches, they found three dominant
approaches to marketing together with three new consumer faces (Cova & Cova, 2009: 90). These are summed up in the table on the following
Period New marketing approach Face of the new consumer
Late 1990s – Early
+ One-to-one marketing, Interactive marketing
Christopher, Payne and Ballantyne 1992 (338); McKenna, 1991
(181); Peppers and Rogers, 1993 (435); Pine II, 1992 (1043)
+ Sensory marketing
Schmitt, 1999 (226); Pine II and Gilmore, 1999 (549)
+ Marketing 2.0
Prahalad and Ramaswamy, 2004 (501); Vargo and Lusch, 2004
It is far beyond the limits of this paper to cover all the new marketing approaches. Many, if not all, place the emphasis on the consumer,
relationships, and value. Value-driven marketing (Kotler & Kartajaya, 2010: 2), tribal marketing (Cova & Cova, 2002: 595), relationship driven
marketing (Eiriz & Wilson, 2006: 275), experimental marketing (Schmitt, 1999: 53), all veer away from traditional marketing methods, and
recognise the creative consumer as mentioned in the table above, by Cova and Cova. As Kotler and Kartajaya state (Kotler & Kartajaya, 2010:
6); “Consumers’ sophistication generates the future market: the creative consumer market.”
Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems, says that, “we have moved beyond the information age to the age of participation” (cited in Kotler &
Kartajaya, 2010: 3). The marketing world is quickly realising that product alone is not enough, and intangibles are being catapulted from playing
simply a supporting role, in to being the new ‘product’. Service, brand, trust and relationships are just a few of the intangibles that have helped
emotional value essentially become an actual currency (Davis and Meyer 2000: 70), and this new ‘currency’ means that companies have to
focus on emotions, more humanistic elements, in order to stand out, and capture consumer’s attention and trust. Customers are seeking out
relationships that go beyond the transactional, they expect brands to “offer engagement and collaboration models that match the more
distributed and multi-layered mechanisms of value creation through social media” (Leberecht, 2010).
In this age, people create, they take part; they don’t just consume (Kotler & Kartajaya 2010: 3). It’s not viable to draw up a marketing plan at the
start of the year, and execute it over that year (Shiffman 2008 cited in Groom 2008: 3); consumers are too changeable, and the marketplace too
volatile for a traditional marketing plan. Lusch and Vargo (2006 cited in Badot & Cova 2008: 213) saw the customer as being a co-creator of
value (or producer), and saw marketing as shifting from a ‘market to’ philosophy, to a ‘market with’ philosophy, where the consumer and whole
supply chain are collaborators in the marketing process. Yet this shift, they said, “towards co-creation will require a genuine marketing
revolution” (Badot & Cova 2008: 213), and although we are seeing the beginnings of this revolution, getting it right will take time. To exemplify
this point, I will use the example of crowdsourcing, one of many ways in which companies and organisations have given up control, and let
consumers take a central role.
Crowdsourcing was coined by Jeff Howe in a June 2006 Wired magazine article (Howe, 2006). In a nutshell, it’s “the act of taking a job
traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the
form of an open call” (Condron, 2010). Crowdsourcing websites, where a company – anyone – can upload a task, state what they need, what the
reward is, and then let the world try to solve that task, abound; http://www.poptent.net/, http://www.redesignme.com/,
http://www.chaordix.com/ and http://namethis.com/name_this/, to name just a few. There even exists an entire advertising agency solely built
on crowdsourcing principles; https://victorsandspoils.com/. As Cliff Lewis, Executive Producer and Creative Resource Director at Agency Nil, says
“Crowdsourcing is the new creative mantra… The perception is that the crowd will give you the answer at a fraction of the cost. That
may well turn out to be the case – occasionally and for the right task. I don’t believe the crowd will always get it right but I do think
the crowd has an important role when used correctly. It forces agencies into a new era of real collaboration and to re-evaluate their
process and their value.”
Big brands have made use of crowdsourcing; those mentioned in my hypothesis (Peperami, Heinz, Mountain Dew and Ford) are just a handful of
brands that have reached out to the crowd, launching competitions to create their next advert, or ‘just’ to gather feedback and suggestions from
those who actually consume the product (such as mystarbucksidea.force.com). Whether it is to make an advert, to gather ideas, to redesign
logos, or to constantly update software, crowdsourcing is reaching out to the consumer; the once passive, obedient, receptor, and asking them;
what do you think?
Yet is this always a good idea? Is the crowd really as creative as the creatives inside an agency? Henry Ford once said on being asked about
inventing the automobile, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses” (Hohmann, 2005). Quite often, people
don’t know what they want, but just what they don’t want (Proctor & Kitchen, 2002; 145), which, understandably, can lead to problems in
regards to creativity. Further more, all of the examples listed have run in to problems. Heinz and Peperami were not only accused for looking for
cheap labour and being lazy, but also faced the overwhelming task of shifting through thousands of entries (Story, 2007 & and Charles, 2009).
To top things off, the winners of the Peperami competition were advertising executives, their advert being produced by a marketing company
Time will tell whether or not crowdsourcing is a realistic option when it comes to marketing; it makes use of the consumers, but at what cost?
“The traditional customer is the one we all were as recently as a decade ago. We bought products and services and based our
decisions on utility and price. We communicated with the companies we were dealing with by letter, phone call, and occasionally
email, if they had the facility to do that. But that customer changed because of a social change in the early part of the millennium.
The customer seized control of the business ecosystem and it was never the same.” (Paul Greenberg, in Morgan 2010)
The Blurred Edges
It will probably have become apparent that there are many aspects of postmodernism and digimodernism that seem to overlap and it is those
aspects I will now briefly address. Some of them are merely overlap, as it is not the grand ‘end of postmodernism’; others, I will argue, are
misnomers; I will come to argue that by placing them under the ‘title’ of digimodern, the need for such a grand revolution (Badot & Cova 2008:
213) would be lessened. By recognising that we are no longer so firmly placed in postmodernism, marketing theory would be able to take the
much needed evolutional steps forward.
As previously said, Kirby states that it was somewhere in the 1990s/early 2000s that new technologies re-structured the relationships between
author, reader and text, (Kirby, 2010b) and that the first decade of this century can be seen as ‘early digimodernist’ (Kirby 2009: 6). It is also
around the mid- to late-1990s 12 , that many postmodern/postmodern marketing theorists and texts bring to light the fact that marketing is in
need of a revolution due to changes in society and the consumer (Brown, 1997, 2002; Smithee, 1997, cited in Addis & Podestà, 2005). More
than once they state that marketing seems to have become caught up in the modernistic frame in which it was created, and is unable to adapt to
the postmodern consumer and society it should now be addressing. The modern marketing ‘Kotlerisms’ (Badot & Cova 2008: 206) of analysis,
planning, implementation, and control have become inadequate and marketers have had to wake up to the fact that consumers have evolved to
the point of being ‘co-creators’; “no longer passive targets but creative partners in the production of experiences and identities” (Christensen,
Firat & Torp 2005: 159). It is the postmodernism tenant of the reversal of production and consumption that acts as one of the major indications
12 Please do note (as a point of interest) that all the sources in this section (and indeed many throughout the paper) that refer to postmodernism or the postmodern consumer,
all date from the mid- to late- nineties, and the first decade of this century.
Considering the knowledge the consumer has of the marketplace (Dholakia, Firat & Venkatesh 1995: 53), and the ‘marketing reflex’ (Brown,
2003: 37) they now boast, the postmodern consumer is more than able to participate in the control of marketing messages, and will no longer
simply reproduce those that are marketed to them in the traditional manner. Ultimately, “the consumer is a producer and what s/he chooses to
consumer is for the purpose of producing something (Dholakia, Firat, & Venkatesh, 1995: 260). This ‘something’, Firat and Venkatesh go on to
note (1995: 254), is a “certain type of human being”. Lusch and Vargo (2006 cited in Badot & Cova 2008: 213) also saw the customer as being
a co-creator of value (or producer), and believed marketing to be shifting from a ‘market to’ philosophy, to a ‘market with’ philosophy, where the
consumer and whole supply chain are collaborators in the marketing process. Yet this shift, they said, “towards co-creation will require a genuine
marketing revolution” (Badot & Cova 2008: 213).
This fundamental shift in the relationship between the traditional customer and companies is driven by technology, specifically, the social web; it
is here to stay, and is the biggest shift yet in the history of business (Ogneva, Chan & Morgan, 2010: 2).
Balasubramanian et al. (2001, in Simmons, 2008) also acknowledges the fact that the internet has put power in the hands of the consumer,
allowing for customisation, and for them “to have a say in the online creation of product and service experiences, which are tailored to their
individualised needs.” Companies must begin to collaborate instead of just producing. They are no longer at the front of the value chain, and
consumers are no longer at the end; there is no real value chain as such (Firat & Dholakia, 2004: 135). As previously discussed, the consumer
has become a producer as Firat and Venkatesh contested, but this is on a level unforeseen. It is no longer simply methods of personalisation
enabled through the internet (e.g. design your own trainers on Nike.com), but of crowdsourcing, co-creation, collaboration. The consumer quite
easily switches from consumer to integral part of the production though, for example, helping to create a logo, a piece of music, a working part,
and so on. As Firat and Dholakia point out (2004: 134), if the lines between consumer and producer have become so blurred, where do
organisations end and consumers begin? “The changing nature of the consumer and the concomitant restructuring of relations between the
organization and its consumers will force us to re-examine the modern concept of an organization and its distinct, boundered form” (Firat &
Dholakia, 2004; 143). The same can also be argued of marketing as if the consumer is part-producer, then this would also put the consumer in
the role of the marketer; “Marketing becomes everyone’s activity, and the post-consumer is a marketer, constantly involved in the imagination,
creation, and performance of desires to be experienced as modes of living” (Firat & Dholakia, 2004: 140). As Brian Solis so eloquently puts it,
“nowadays participation is marketing” (Solis, 2008: 6) and it is this revolution that marketing must address.
It is not just the postmodern tenant of reversal of production and consumption that is seen in digimodernism; technology has had a remarkable
effect on most of them, and they can be seen reflected in the digimodern traits that Kirby discusses (2009: 52-53)
Onwardness – the digimodern text is growing, rolling, incomplete; there is a start, but no end.
Haphazardness – as a consequence of onwardness, the future development of the text is undecided.
Evanescence – the digimodern text it is technically very hard to capture and archive.
Reformulation and intermediation of textual roles – the digimodernist text’s radical redefinition of textual functional titles: reader, author,
viewer, producer, director, listener, presenter, writer.
Anonymous, multiple and social authorship – authorship becomes multiple, almost innumerable.
The fluid-bounded text – the digimodernist text so lacks the quality of traditional physical limits so much so that traditionalists may not
recognise it as a text at all. Such a text may be endless or swamp any act of reception/consumption.
Electronic-digitality – in its purest form, the digimodernist text relies on its technological status: it’s the textuality that derives from
digitalization; it’s produced by fingers and thumbs, and computerization.
Easy to recognise are fragmentation, hyperreality, decentred subjects (all three are represented in the fluidity, haphazardness and constant
change of the digimodern text), and as said, the reversal of production and consumption. Having these present, allow for, as with
postmodernism, the juxtaposition of opposites (the author is the reader; the reader is the author and so on).
Individualism vs. Tribes
Another interesting discussion can be had in regards to the debate within postmodernism over individualism. Many theorists (Brown, 2006;
Nauman & Hufner, 1985; Lipovetsky, 1983, 1987, 1990 cited in Cova, 1997) claim that postmodernity stands for the triumph of individualism,
that each individual is able to represent themselves as they choose, personalising their products, purchases and so forth, thereby becoming
Yet there are just as many – perhaps more – who argue quite the opposite (Bauman, 1992, cited in Cova, 1997; Maffesoli, 1996; Cova, 1997;
Kozinets, 2001, 2002; Thompson & Troester, 2002; Dholakia et al., 2004; Johnson & Ambrose, 2006; Cova & Pace, 2006; Cova et al., 2007
cited in Simmons, 2008). In this view, individualism was a short lived period, and that society has “moved away from a more extreme form of
individualism, towards a soulful search for more social bonds due to alienation – the phenomenon of neo-tribalism” (Simmons, 2008: 303).
So where as the ‘individualists’ argue that (Simmons, 2008: 305);
“[a]ll instruments invented by science and technology, and particularly electronics, are “anti-link” instruments which are likely to
increase the isolation of the individual” (Cova, 1997: 305). The ‘tribalists’ argue that, “[t]he Internet has emerged as the virtual glue,
which many people in postmodern societies are using to bond together in an increasingly fragmented world.”
It could be argued that postmodernism, in its heyday, did signal the triumph of the individual, however, as the yet-unnamed digimodernism
began to appear, this began to change. In other words, as the internet made its grand entrance around 1995 (Chapman, 2009), individualism
began to lose its grip, and a sense of tribalism began to gather.
“Thus, instead of seeing individual freedom and mechanized alienation as opposing social forces, contemporary individuals turn to
automation in order to express their autonomy, and this bringing together of former opposites results in a radical restructuring of
traditional, modern, and postmodern intellectual paradigms”. (Samuels, 2008: 3).
One might argue that social media such as Facebook and MySpace allow for personalisation through different photos, music and layout, these
are all still done within preset constraints. Furthermore, when you make a profile on one of these social networks, you are joining a network; “a
group or system of interconnected people or things” (oxforddictionaries.com).
In the simplest terms; as postmodernism was individual, digimodern is tribal. Technology, the internet, enabled what first appeared to be
individualisation, but soon proved to be tribes, thereby signalling the beginning of the end of the individualistic postmodern era.
Methodical Considerations in Empirical Research
Throughout this next main section, I will put the theory of digimodernism and my hypothesis to the test, and through the use of a focus group find
out how consumers interact with media, and how they interact and view new, interactive – digimodern – adverts and campaigns. By discussing
their use of media, how they consume media, their relationship to technology and/or marketing and finally by discussing different cases, the
data gathered will be suitable to compare with the theory already discussed. By doing this, I will be able to demonstrate just how technology is
affecting media consumption, and also point out what challenges marketing communications faces in the not-so-distant future.
Why a Focus Group?
A focus group was chosen as I am primarily interested in qualitative answers over quantitative; I was eager to hear discussions about the subject
matter, rather than just relatively plain, straightforward answers in one-to-one interviews or questionnaires. As Neergaard says (2007: 6);
“Qualitative research captures the essence of something; quantitative measures the volume.” A focus group also allows for the discussion to
grow organically, taking unforeseen directions and evolving in a way that might provide valuable insights. Of course, this can also be negative if
the conversation strays too far from the subject, but as the moderator, I can bring the topic back in to focus using, as Powney says (1988: 12), a
“structured eavesdropping” role. The group interaction also allows the individuals to explore and clarify their views in ways that might not have
been possible in one-to-one interviews. The method is also particularly useful for exploring people's knowledge and experiences and can be used
to examine not only what people think, but how they think and why they think that way (Bolton). Ultimately though, the interaction of the focus
group is explicitly used as part of the method; people should be encouraged to talk to one another, asking questions, exchanging anecdotes and
commenting on each other's experiences and points of view (Kitzinger, 1994: 112). It has been suggested that focus groups be understood as
social enactments (Halkier, 2010: 71), which, it can be almost undeniably argued; they are (Barbour, 2007; Bloor et al., 2001; Halkier, 2002;
Morgan, 1997 cited in Halkier 2010: 71). Furthermore, as Halkier points out (2010: 72), “the growing influence of epistemological positions
within various forms of social constructivism…where all knowledge is seen as dependent on the social context of its production also points in the
direction of actively including the social interaction.” Given the subject of this paper, a focus group seems only appropriate. The digimodern trait
of the reader becoming the author and creating their own content can only be seen through a postmodern social constructivist perspective;
“Clearly postmodernism favours the idea of hyperreality that follows from the argument that reality is not something out there but something
that more often than not is created. The notion of hyperreal is intended to distinguish it from the modernist notion of reality as uncontested and
singular (Firat & Venkatesh, 1995: 257).”
Scientific Theoretical Base for Empirical Research
This brings me nicely to my theoretical framework, which is, as said, a social constructivist framework. This postmodern approach is suitable as it
moves away from the modernist stance of knowledge as essentialism, and truth as objective (Firat & Venkatesh, 1995: 257), and instead
focuses on the interrelations in an interview and the social construction of reality during the interview, in other words; the postmodern disbelief
in universal systems of thought (Kvale, 1996: 41), and the constructed matter of truth (Firat & Venkatesh, 1995:257). “Instead of looking at the
human subject in mere cognitive terms, postmodernism considers other possible profiles, such as human beings as communicative subjects
guided by language and rational thought (Firat & Venkatesh, 1995: 243)” Immanuel Kant was a forerunner for social constructivism (Hacking,
1999: 41), arguing that we can obtain knowledge about the world, but it will always be subjective knowledge in the sense that it is filtered
through human consciousness. Because of this, I must take in to consideration the fact that the information I gather during the focus group will
be as a result of social interaction between the group members, and as a response to my questions and choice of cases, which are based on my
interests, values and preconceptions. Therefore, the empirical data I will gather can not be seen as a ‘true’ picture of reality, but as a ‘snapshot’
of that moment. As Daymon and Holloway say, objectivity and neutrality are impossible to achieve (Daymon & Holloway, 2004: 89).
Authenticity and Trustworthiness
This leads me on to the question of whether or not my research is valid and/or reliable, or as the modern position phrases it; authentic and/or
trustworthy (Damon & Holloway p.92). This modern view is based on the work of Licoln and Guba (1985, 1989, & 1998 cited in Damon &
Holloway, 2002: 92), and argues that validity and reliability are characterised by the researcher’s careful documentation of the research process
and the decisions made along the way. Although the same research could be undertaken by someone else, my results can never be duplicated,
as I myself have such influence over the data gathered, and the conclusions made (Damon & Holloway, 2002: 90). This, coupled with the social
constructive view, means that I must take in to consideration as much as I can in terms of process in order to have any kind of validity.
Trustworthiness has four elements that roughly correspond to internal and external validity, reliability, and objectivity. These elements –
credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability – assess the quality of the research product for truth value, applicability, consistency,
and neutrality (Lincoln & Guba, 1985: 294).
In order to gain credibility, I carried out a member check (Damon & Holloway, 2002: 93), by sending a summary of my findings to the
participants, giving them the opportunity to clarify anything I might have misunderstood. The transferability of my study is evident, in that my
findings and theories may easily be applied to studies in the future in order, for example, to see how the media consumption of consumers in 10
years differs from those of today. The dependability of my study is shown in the detailed method section, which demonstrates an ‘audit trail’
(Daymon & Holloway, 2004: 94), covering all of my decisions. Finally, the confirmability will become evident through the following analysis of my
focus group (Daymon & Holloway, 2004: 94).
Authenticity is closely related to the social constructivist viewpoint in that it recognises and attempts to correct the possible ‘unfairness’ of the
situation; my involvement, and the social effects of the setting. In order to balance the situation, my questions 13 were open, fair, not misleading
or judgmental, and provided an honest report of the participants’ ideas (Damon & Holloway, 2002: 93).
13 As Daymon and Holloway note (2002; 195), focus groups are more akin to brainstorm sessions, and therefore having a ‘set’ questionnaire would be inappropriate. Instead, a
list of prompting ‘questions’ and topics I hoped to cover acted as my ‘questionnaire’. This is included in appendix 4, p. 159
In order for this focus group to be valid, and to present me with valid data, there are a number of factors regarding my method that must be
taken in to consideration. I will briefly run through them now.
Random sampling is seldom used in selection participants for a focus group. The reasons being that, firstly; it would be highly unlikely that such
a random sample would accurately represent larger numbers, and secondly; a random sample is unlikely to have a shared perspective on a topic
and may not even be able to contribute at all (Morgan, 1997: 45). The term purposeful sampling (Daymon & Holloway, 2004; 159), has been
seen as an umbrella term, covering both theoretical and selective sampling (Coyne, 1997, cited in Neergaard, 2007;259), with the difference
between the two being in whether or the participants were selection before the research (selective), or as it unfolds (theoretical) (Coyne,
1997;264). In this paper, I am using selective sampling, as I am working within a framework, whereas the theoretical analyst “cannot know in
advance precisely what to sample for and where it will lead him” (Glaser, 1978, cited in Coyne, 1997; 264). While it might be argued that I could
have used either method in this paper (as if I claim that all consumers are within this new paradigm, then where are my parameters?), I have
also chosen to place a slight focus on age. As mentioned in the Digimodernism section, there is a distinction (or so Kirby claims) between those
born after 1980 (digital natives) and those born before (digital ‘immigrant’ [my own term]). According to this theory, digital immigrants should not
be as accustomed to technological advances or as comfortable consumer media in a digimodern manner as digital natives. Therefore, I aimed to
create a focus group with a split of digital natives and digital immigrants, in terms of age. In order to focus on the age, I made sure that all of the
participants were from the same ‘background’; i.e. interests, education, job etc. Although most researches recommend aiming for homogenous
groups in order to capitalize of shared experiences (Kitzinger, 1995) it can also be advantages to bring together a diverse group, to maximise
exploration. As Morgan said (1997: 72); the objective is “homogeneity in background and not homogeneity in attitudes.”
Some variation exists in the literature with regard to the optimum size for a focus group. Some authors suggest six to ten participants (Morgan
1997) while others have reported using as few as three and as many as fourteen (Pugsley 1996). I had chosen to use six, as it allows me to
present an even split of men and women, and also, as I am the sole moderator, is of a size that I can manage and moderate myself.
My next step was to decide upon strangers or friends/colleagues. As Schumm, Sinagub, & Vaughn state (1996: 36) strangers are, as a general
rule, preferred as individuals are more likely to discuss issues honestly and readily when they are among people they are unlikely to meet again.
In order to do this, I chose to use the method Halkier calls ‘snowball-sampling’ (Halkier 2002; 36); asking people within my network to
recommend people in their network who fall in to the category. By asking my network to contact the person they thought suitable with an email I
had prepared (appendix 5, p. 161) the participant would feel more comfortable with the situation, and also, as Halkier states, a greater sense of
commitment to the project (Halkier 2002; 37).
My six strangers made up a relatively homogenous group (in terms of interests/education/job) but not entirely homogenous (three members are
born after 1980). The group was made up of three men, and three women. One of the men is born before 1980, and two after, and two of the
women were born before 1980, and one after.
Unfortunately, on the day of the focus group, one of the female participants (born after 1980) did not arrive. I decided to go ahead with the
group, as the remaining participants were still representative of my group.
The participants were as follows (name and date of birth, nationality, profession, education);
o 27 (born 1983)
o Project Manager in advertising
o MA in Communication
Jennie Kaae Ferrara
o 32 (born 1978)
o MA in Modern Culture & Communication
Kristina Sedereviciute (did not arrive)
o 25 (born 1985)
o Project Manager at Hosting (IT services)
o MA Corporate Communication
o 28 (born 1982)
o Digital Campaign Manager at Vizeum
o MA in Culture and Communications
o 37 (born 1973)
o Employed at Palads Cinemas
o 35 (born 1975)
o IT consultant
o Bachelor of Science
Location and Setting
The focus group was a relaxed, informal and friendly meeting, and took place in a meeting room at my place of work, Vizeum; a small full-service
media company in Copenhagen. The room was ideal, leaving me very little to worry about as it was designed to be quiet, comfortable and light. It
is also fitted with the necessary equipment (television, projector etc), and fully furnished. It was the logical choice in terms of convenience, but
also logistically. It provided a neutral location for all bar one of the participants, and being located in the city centre, meant that it was easy to
reach for the others.
Introduction to Focus Group
The primary goal of my focus group was to asses whether or not digimodernism is present in the participants lives; if their media consumption
has changed, and if it is has, has this had any effect on how they, as consumers, view and interact with marketing. The results of this focus group
will then be examined against the digimodern theory in order to asses whether or not it can be said that technology has had an significant impact
on media consumption, and the way that consumers view marketing. My ‘secondary goal’ is to evaluate whether or not, as a technologically
minded consumer, the date of birth plays a role.
To begin the group, I presented the participants with a small questionnaire (appendix 2, p. 125). This was in order to gain details about their
lifestyles and how technologically competent they believed themselves to be. This was more suitable than asking each participant in front of the
group, as they might have been affected by the group setting and embarrassed, for example, to answer truthfully. It also gave me more details to
work with during the analysis.
Discussion Guide and Session Structure
As noted in a previous footnote, focus groups have been described as being more similar to brainstorming than structured discussions due to
their unpredictable and interactive nature (Daymon & Holloway, 2004: 195). This would imply that a structured set of questions is unsuitable;
instead, a discussion guide provides the loose framework within which to work. This provided me with the topics I wanted to cover, as well as
opening questions with which to start discussion. On the guide, I also included timing, so as to make sure I would have time to cover all my
I began the session with an informal chat, introductions and some refreshments. This gave the participants a chance to unwind from their day (it
was held after work, at 17.30), get acquainted with one another, and also give them 5 minutes to fill out the questionnaire I had provided for
To start the group, I asked open questions regarding their media habits, and media consumption. This was to get the group ‘warmed up’. I moved
on to a comparison of a magazine advert, one with a QR code, and one with out, discussing which was more appealing, and if they had ever
‘used’ a QR code.
Next, I presented 4 comparisons between a ‘traditional’ advert, and then the interactive version, and a Levis’ social shopping site. After each
case, we discussed which was more appealing? Why? Had they made use of them? Would they? Which did they trust more? Why? Etc. A full
transcript of the focus group can be found in appendix 3, p.130, together with a CD, and a USB containing the adverts and videos.
Choice of cases
I chose my cases with the intention of covering not only ‘traditional’ advertising, but also campaign marketing, i.e. for a cause 14 . I also included
the Levis’ social shopping example in order to examine how consumers saw this kind of ‘social’ shopping, and if it provided any extra trust. All the
cases are based on the theory of digimodernism; that adverts and marketing (among others) are becoming interactive. Whether or not this
entices consumers to ‘take part’ is what I hope to find out.
My first case, it could be argued, is the QR code (as explained in the Method). QR codes are found in numerous magazines today, on products
from Coca-Cola bottles to billboards and provide extra information for consumers. The next case compares a television advert for Burger King’s
chicken burger to their interactive version, Subservient Chicken. Following on from this, I next introduce the Levis’ social shopping concept. By
making use of Facebook’s social plugins (embedded code in any website), the site becomes interactive, allowing you to see which of your friends
have liked which product, thereby giving, in theory, greater validity to the product – see below.
14 This can be seen in the anti-knife crime adverts, and television license adverts
Next, I chose two campaigns; one anti-knife crime from the United Kingdom and one for television license payment (the television advert from
the United Kingdom, and the interactive advert from Sweden). These two cases were discussed as the Burger King; which is more effective,
trustworthy, and so on.
In appendix 1, p. 121, you can find a print out of my PowerPoint.
Digimodern media consumption; the analysis
The focus group presented me with a great deal of information, some of which was expected, and some quite unexpected. It also provided the
basis for further research and focus groups, which would have been extremely interesting and well worth doing, if it were not for a lack of time.
However, I will comment further upon this later on in the paper, under Further Research Suggestions.
The goal of the focus group was to find out how consumers consume media, and how they interact and view new, interactive – digimodern –
adverts and campaigns. Through a series of examples and discussions, I was able to attain views and opinions that helped form a conclusion to
my problem statement of; how does the shift into digimodernism radically alter society, further upsetting the balance between consumer and
marketing, and what challenges does this shift present to marketing communications?
As it is commonly known, focus groups can generate vast amounts of data, which can easily overwhelm the moderator, and also cause great
confusion when being analysed (Rabiee, 2004; 657). Luckily, my focus group was of a moderate size, and the data gathered, while significant,
was not overwhelming. Furthermore, by carefully coding my data using the three steps of open coding, axial coding, and selective coding
(Daymon & Holloway, 2004; 123-124) I was able to form analyst-constructed typologies (Marshall & Rossman 1999; 154-155); comprehensive
chunks of information which are, as Marshall and Rossman go on to describe (199; 154-155), “created by the researcher that are grounded in
the data but not necessarily used explicitly by participants.” After coding, I ended up with four main categories, which I will now discuss.
As a group, it was clear to see that their media habits had changed in the last few years. From television to mobile phones, the ways by which the
group consumed media had undergone a revolution; “I don’t own a TV” (Appendix 3, p. 130 15 , p. 130, L. 27) to “I use my iPhone all the time, to
check my email or to go on Facebook” (p. 132, l. 29).
Television consumption proved to have changed dramatically, with one of the group not owing a television (p. 130, l. 27), to one of them, Jennie,
being relatively ‘traditional’ (i.e. not watching television online and not downloading) in her television use (p. 131, l. 16), each participant showed
different habits, but with the exception of Jennie, all participants showed ‘untraditional’ habits. Anders, (p. 131, l. 9) only used his television for
keeping up-to-date with news, Kristjan didn’t own a television (p. 130, l. 27), Søren had recently downsized his television package to the very
basics (p. 131, l. 11), and Lise chooses to download the series she follows (p. 131, l. 6). All four participants clearly demonstrate that their
television use is not as it used to be. Choosing to get rid of their television or use the internet for their viewing purposes signals impatience in
consumers today; why wait when it is available via another medium?
As Christine Rosen argues in Samuel’s book, “The creation and near-universal adoption of the remote control arguably marks the beginning of
the era of the personalization of technology. The remote control has shifted power to the individual, and the technologies that have embraced
this principle in its wake…have created a world where the individual’s control over the content, style, and timing of what he consumers is nearly
absolute” (Samuels, 2010: 23). Although here, in the case of my participants, the power has shifted to the consumers to such an extent that
they are able to view what they want, when they want, via another medium entirely. The habit of uploading files (whether they be sound or
picture) and making them available for download (more often than not, illegally), is a pure digimodern one; they create the possibility for Rosen’s
empowered consumers to turn off their television, or even get rid of it completely, and in doing so, create their own television schedule. As Rosen
15 As the transcript of the focus group is contained within the same appendix, for the remained of the analysis I will simply write a page and line number, not the appendix
number (unless referring to a different appendix).
goes on to say, “…people are increasingly relying on the Internet to gain information, and fewer people are watching television as their primary
source for…entertainment” (Samuels, 2010: 199).
Lise exemplifies Rosen’s quote when she mentions how her use of the internet has changed in recent years (p. 133, l. 14-5). It is no longer used
as just a source for information, but rather, “for sharing information, and getting inspiration from others, and also for fun, but also sometimes
just for business.” While Kristjan tried to distance himself from being overly reliant on the internet, he realised that more and more, he was
forced to actively find an internet connection in order to go about daily life (p. 133, l. 11-2). In order to combat this, he became a smartphone
user, thus giving himself 24 hour access to the internet, becoming fully coupled with technology, and thereby being ‘digitally dependent’. Lise
provides a good quote summarising this dependency (p. 132, l. 29-30); “Yeah well I use my iPhone all the time to check, you know, where am I
right now, to check my email or to go on Facebook or Twitter and stuff like that. I have it with me all the time, and carrying it around, almost
bring it to the toilet as well, so it’s always there.”
This significant turn towards our lives becoming constantly digitally connected is also demonstrated through the Roskilde Festival example that
Søren gives (p. 135, l. 4-8). In this case, festival-goers were able to enter competitions, vote for gigs at the festival, send photos in to the
festival’s daily newspaper, and make use of an iPhone application that allowed you to plan your festival, all via your mobile phone. People are
able to take part, have their voices heard, and plan – all through the same electronic device. Lise discusses the use of mobile phones during
work (); “I’ve tried that in conferences where you respond and at the end everybody’s answers are put up so you can see what everybody thinks
– instant feedback kind of thing.”
Mobile phone reliance was furthered through the admittance of all of the participants (p. 133, l. 31) that they have used their phones in order to
take part in some kind of activity other than ‘communication’ (e.g. calling, texting, internet, photo taking etc). Whether it was voting for a
television programme (such as X-Factor or Big Brother), competitions, or donations to charities, all the participants had used their phones to
carry out a task that would, or could, have actual consequences in day-to-day life (if not for the participants themselves, then for others, e.g.
contestants on X-Factor). Kristjan suggested that the action of using your mobile to enter or vote etc, can only be in connection with television (p.
134, l. 20), but Søren counter argued this claim by stating that it is possible to execute this action through outdoor adverts and newspapers (p.
134, l. 27), through, for example, QR codes (p. 136, l. 23). Although everyone knew what they were (p. 135, l. 25), not everyone had actually
tried to use one (Lise, p. 135, l. 30); “I’ve seen them at the bus stop, you know, where you got something on your phone if you took a picture of
it, but I didn’t try it myself because I found it a little bit difficult to understand what I’m supposed to do. You know, I’m standing at the bus stop
and there’s just a big poster, so I’ve just seen it but I didn’t try it.” This is because, as Lise goes on to say (p. 135, l. 30), she didn’t understand
what she was supposed to do.
It would appear initially that the participants are fully digital in terms of how television is watched, and how they use the internet, yet there
appears to be some discrepancy when it comes to the QR codes.
Effort vs. Reward
Although Lise is the only one who admits not being sure of what to do, or how to use, the QR code, all the participants agree during the focus
group that they do not understand the benefit of using them (Søren, p. 136, l. 11; Jennie, p. 137, l. 2; Anders; p. 139, l. 27; Kristjan, p. 136, l. 1;
Lise, p. 139, l. 14). Søren mentions a case (p. 136, l. 23) where DSB made use of QR codes in a campaign in collaboration with Sonofon,
targeting travellers. Posters on the platforms featured a QR code which would take the users to an internet site, where you would answer some
easy questions, and in doing so, enter a competition. As Søren says (p. 136, l. 25); “For me it was just a harder way than sending the texts if it
had had the question there and then said ‘send the answer to 1213’ that would have been a lot easier, than downloading an app, taking a
picture of it or waiting for it to scan, coming to the competition page…” It would appear that in order for QR codes to be used successfully, they
must be used for a special purpose; something out of the ordinary. After hearing that scanning the code on the Calvin Klein billboard (Appendix
1, p. 122) takes the user to a YouTube video of their latest advert, Lise replied (p. 139, l. 14), “But that’s a lot of work for a YouTube video. You
know? I’d feel a little bit cheated, like ‘what the fuck? Didn’t I get anything?’” She does add that if she knew the company were known for making
original, funny adverts then she might be tempted, “but if it’s just people being naked, then hey, I’ve seen it before” (p. 138, l. 2).
An example of just how they could be used to balance the exchange between consumer and brand is given by Søren (p. 139, l. 4--6). Hennes and
Mauritz (H&M) include QR codes on the washing label in some of their clothing. Through scanning the code, the user is taken to the website,
where the item is available for purchase, online. So upon admiring your friend’s jacket, you can simply scan the code, and purchase the item in a
matter of minutes. As Anders points out (p. 138, l. 14), the feeling of the group is that, “if it makes your life easier you will scan. Not just for fun.”
Anders also brings to light an interesting point regarding consumers’ optional (yet in order to understand; obligatory) participation in decoding the
QR codes. He says (p. 150, l. 23-4), “It’s like Calvin Klein – I know they don’t make burgers so I know it’s going to be something with clothes. And
if I never really liked Calvin Klein – why bother?” Using QR codes in advertising and/or marketing represent a break from traditional adverts in
that they require active participation from the consumer in order to decipher the message. Television, radio and print adverts (for example) do
not require the same level of participation. Of course, the device must be switched on, or open, in order to receive the messages, but QR codes
require an action from the viewer. It could be argued that this action will only be undertaken if the code is presented by a brand the consumer
has a positive established connection with, or if it points towards what it will give the consumer in return (e.g. ‘Scan this code to be taken to the
item on our website’, etc). As Anders said, why bother making the effort when you already know you don’t like the brand? As Lise says (p. 138, l.
1); “I mean, if I knew they were making always really funny, crazy, original ads then I probably would, but if it’s just people being naked, then hey,
I’ve seen it before.” She does, however, go on to point out that if she knew there was a reason to scan the code, she would (p. 138, l. 8-10); “If I
knew it was of some use to me, you know, if I’m reading a ladies magazine, and I’m looking at some shoes, instead of looking in the back and
seeing where can I buy it, if there was a barcode there and I could scan it and get the information right away there on my phone, that would be
This extra effort for a result that could have been reached much quicker and with less participation on behalf of the user became a recurring
theme in the focus group, even garnering a maxim of “too much brain-work” (Lise, p. 157, l. 12). This is not confined to QR codes either. In
discussing the other cases based on interactive adverts, there were a number of comments (Anders, p. 150, l. 17; Søren, p. 136, l. 26; Lise, p.
141, l. 17) regarding the inconsistency in the exchange between brand and consumer. Although perceived as fun (Kristjan, p. 148, l. 44; Lise, p.
143, l. 6; Anders, p. 155, l. 1), the interactive videos shown in the presentation also failed to offer an equal exchange.
As with the codes, the effort required was seen as excessive and unrewarding when the final message was delivered or found. Anders (p. 150, l.
17), says, “For me it’s just too much effort. If I can see what it’s about I don’t feel like going through everything just to get the message that I
already know.” Kristjan goes as far to say that he would simply switch off (p. 158, l. 16) when it comes to watching something that demands
effort from the consumer in order to recognise the sender.
It would appear from this initial look that although media consumption has changed in terms of how television is watched and how the internet
has become fully integrated in the participants’ lives, when it comes to advertising and marketing, the emphasis is on ease; why should
consumers make the extra effort and spend the extra time in order to decipher a marketing message? Before discussing this further, I will go on
to discuss the next few main points established from the focus group.
Adutainment; the conundrum of virals and fun
‘Adutainment’ was the name given by Lise (p. 141, l. 22) to the interactive adverts and viral videos 16 shown in the presentation, as well as others
that were discussed. A amalgamation of the words ‘advertising’ and ‘entertainment’, Lise was referring to the trend of viral videos and interactive
16 A viral video is a video usually on YouTube which goes viral; i.e. it has the same characteristics of a virus. It starts small and slow, but spreads rapidly, gaining cult status and
possibly millions of views (Greenberg, 2007)
adverts which, rather than focusing on the actual product, price or benefits, instead try to instil positive attitudes and feelings towards the brand
or company through demonstrating that they, a) are capable of doing something innovative, interesting and fun, b) no longer are pushing the
hard sell, and c) are veering away from the traditional and superabundant ‘advert’, in other words; recognising and respecting the consumer.
Although they might be viewed as fun, this fun, however, also proves to have an adverse reaction. The message of the advert and/or the sender
is lost in the ‘fun’. As Kristjan says (p. l52, l. 16), “[It was just a fun thing to do], and it distracts from what they’re actually trying to do.” At one
point in the focus group, Søren discusses another recent interactive viral video 17 from YouTube, that of Tipp-Ex 18 . However, when I name the
brand, he says (p. 157, l. 22), “Yeah, I didn’t even know it was Tipp-Ex.” It became clear that the more the advert tries to be engaging and subtle,
the more the message and/or brand becomes lost. Søren summed this up neatly by saying (p. 158, l. 18-21);
“And I didn’t know it was a commercial, and I passed it on and said ‘this is the coolest thing ever made’, and I think it took at least
half a month or a month before I read somewhere that it was for Bedre Bustur and then all the focus was on the event agency that
made it, but the point is that some of these virals become so good that they overshadow the brand.”
Ultimately, it would appear as if viral videos and interactive adverts are heading the same way as traditional adverts; they are becoming
expected, and consumers are growing tired. As Søren says (p. 154, l. 1-6);
“The thing with these ads…it’s all about news value, and they’ll just be biting each others’ tails because when that one is over,
McDonalds will make one and Nike will make one and people just talk about who makes the coolest ad, but the whole brand issue,
it’s kind of in the back ground all the time, so again, when I go out and have to buy something, I’ve seen so many viral ads now I
17 When discussing viral videos I am only referring to those made by brands/companies for marketing purposes – not those made by individuals
18 Please see USB for video
won’t go out and think ‘oh right, Nike made that really cool ad’. You know, I’ve seen so many now I only remember the ad and how it
was at that point when it was new and when it was cool and really exciting and then I just go on to the next one. For me, it’s like
watching sitcoms, you can’t watch the same episodes two times, because the jokes go flat and you just get bored.”
Although two of the cases (television license and anti-knife crime) are not promoting products, the same problems arise, ultimately accumulating
in; is the message lost? Both Lise and Anders mention the fact that if the message of the campaign is obvious, why would they bother watching,
or taking part in, the advert? Lise; “You don’t want to be lectured when you already know what the answer is” (p. 159, l. 7), and Anders (p. 148, l.
28-32); “When I saw it I stopped there [indicates point at end of video], as I thought of course they’re going to teach me not to walk around with
a knife… You know the message, you know it’s not a great idea to walk around with a knife. So when I see something like that, I just move on.”
This would indicate that the message isn’t initially lost, as they are aware of the message before even starting the advert. In fact, the message is
partly the reason for switching off, or not watching. However, even though the message is understood, it simply is interpreted as a ‘traditional’
advert, that is; it is ignored.
The conundrum of fun and the loss of message is further highlighted when Søren brings up another case; ‘Hit the Bitch’ 19 . In this case, the user
is presented with a girl’s face and shoulders on the computer screen. In the foreground, is a forearm and hand which the user can control via the
mouse and smack the girl’s face. At the top of the screen is a scale going from 0% (pussy) to 100% (gangsta). How high you reach on the scale,
depends on how hard you hit and how much damage you cause to the girl. Each hit results in realistic wounds on the girl. As Søren commented
after introducing the case (p. 149, l. 11), “It was catastrophic… it turned the whole thing around because it was quite fun smacking the bitch.”
As with the previous cases, this implies that by making the advert interactive and ‘fun’, in the loosest sense of the word, the message is lost, and
19 A screendump from the site (http://www.hitthebitch.dk) can be found on the USB
the user simply views it as a game. Kristjan substantiates the problem by saying (p. 152, l. 7-8), “I have the same problem here… I think its fun,
but I couldn’t remember what [it] was for.”
Søren brings this point to the fore, saying, “the point is that some of these virals become so good that they overshadow the brand” (p. 158, l.
21). Lise also acknowledges this problem in this sort of advert, as if the adverts are too good, too entertaining or too cool, then you simply forget
who made it (p. 157, l. 31). Although an advert might go viral, and be seen by X million people, there is a chance that it does nothing whatsoever
to help the brand.
Lise also comments (p. 144, l. 13) on the fact that there seems to be such awareness from companies that consumers don’t want adverts, per
se, they bury the brand deep in the advert (or adutainment), thereby losing much of its presumed to be desired effect. Although it is a general
rule that if a video/advert is to go viral, the brand must walk a fine-line between being too present, and not present at all. Too much presence
and it’s an advert. No presence at all and it’s deceiving consumers. Penny Arcade sums it up in this excellent quote (Weaver 2006);
“The reality is that no agency can create viral marketing, this is the sole domain of the consumer. Viral marketing is what happens
when a campaign works -- when we allow their message to travel via our own super efficient conduits. Perhaps it is entertaining on
its own terms, divorced from the message. Perhaps it is a game or a story, like I Love Bees or other ARGs, where we take ownership
in it. What distinguishes this from Guerrilla Marketing is that we are aware of the message. When we are not aware of the message,
or when the agents of the message misrepresent themselves, we call this ‘deception’.”
However, is this still the case? Are consumers now so impervious to adverts and so indifferent to the devices of brands that even if the brand is
very present, the consumer simply doesn’t care? Lise says (p. 143, l. 4-6) “They leave out their name on purpose in case I don’t want to pass on
ads to my friends, and I don’t want to be putting Burger King out all over the place. But I think that’s a little bit of a mistake because if the video
or thing is fun, I’m going to send it, no matter how many brand names it has on it.” Søren agrees with Lise on this point, saying that it simply
doesn’t matter anymore (p. 144, l. 20).
Indeed, the trend of these ‘adutainments’ is so common that they have almost become the norm. As Søren says (p. 154, l. 3-6);
“When I go out and have to buy something, I’ve seen so many viral ads now I won’t go out and think ‘oh right, Nike made that really
cool ad’ so when I’m looking at shoes it’s like ‘oh Nike that’s a cool brand’… You know, I’ve seen so many now I only remember the
ad and how it was at that point when it was new and when it was cool and really exciting and then I just go on to the next one.”
Product or image?
Let us say that the brand/sender of the video/advert is present and remembered, can it even be thought of as traditional advert, selling a
product, or are they, as Kristjan says (p. 144, l. 1), just selling image? Søren believes it to be image (p. 144, l. 3-4); “Yeah, it’s image. It’s making
people aware of their image, and often their campaigns have little to do with any of their products but are just part of their image thing.” He goes
on to say, “it’s the same with all viral campaigns, if it’s Quiksilver or if it’s T-Mobile or anything they’re not really selling a product” (p. 143, l. 32).
Søren is not alone in his beliefs. Lise (p. 153, l. 10), Kristjan (p. 144, l. 8) and Anders (p. 143, l. 9) all see the interactive adverts as ‘fun’, and
even say, “it only makes Burger King look really hip and cool, but it doesn’t make me want to buy a burger. It doesn’t make me hungry or
anything” (Lise, p. 141, l. 17) and Søren adds that “it’s only to put out a statement that we’re hip” (p. 142, l. 7). He goes on to say (p. 142, l. 1),
“They want to brand themselves as a hip, new burger place…and maybe they’re hip but that’s not the reason I’m going for their burgers.”
Anders also sees it from an image perspective (p. 146, l. 25). He sees it as an attempt perhaps to change or simply cement a brand’s image in
the mind of the consumer. Especially when it comes to controversial brands, such as Burger King or other fast food outlets, he suggests these
adverts might be a good way through which the brand can gather positive brand associations. Yet the effectiveness of this is called in to question
as well. As Lise highlights how attitudes towards passing on adverts to friends has changed (“I think that, lesson number one when you started
doing the viral movies, is people don’t want to be passing on ads to each other. So, but I don’t think that’s true anymore. If it’s entertaining, I
don’t care if it’s an ad” (p. 144, l. 13-14), so perhaps consumers are just as fickle when it comes to viewing the brands behind the viral/advert in
a positively light. Lise also states that, “you tend to get used to them right? So after a while they don’t have the same effect” (p. 150, l. 7). To
make use of Søren’s quote again (p. 154, l. 3-6); “I’ve seen so many viral ads now I won’t go out and think ‘oh right, Nike made that really cool
ad’. You know, I’ve seen so many now I only remember the ad and how it was at that point when it was new and when it was cool and really
exciting and then I just go on to the next one.”
So whether the advert or viral video is branding or advertising, the problem remains the same; the technique can soon become old news for the
consumer which results in them becoming part of the advertising blur consumers have already learnt to see through, and dodge.
In summary, the results of my focus group proved very interesting, and quite in line with my hypothesis 20 . Media consumption has changed a
great deal. Televisions, in their traditional sense, are becoming redundant. With access to virtually anything online, people choose to simply
download, or buy, their desired programmes or films, instead of waiting for them to be shown; “Consumers, who want the ability to control and
shape the flow of media in their lives; they want when they want it and where they want it. And, as a result, they pull media content into news
paces illegally if that content is not available for purchase in those formats” (Jenkins, cited in Samuels, 2010; 30). This is fitting with the
digimodern claim that consumers are no longer simply a recipient, but an author, creating individual, characteristic sequences (Kirby, 2010b).
20 There is no mention of the Levi’s case as it was barely discussed and gave no interesting insights in regards to the paper
Mobile phones are no longer used for just making phone calls, but even for actions that have results in the ‘real world’ in real time, through
voting, donating, and feedback. Those phones with internet access create a means through which people can be constantly connected to the
world online. Essentially, the internet has transformed the ways in which people consume media. In this regard, consumer’s lives and their media
consumption can definitely be said to be digimodernist. As Samuels says (Samuels, 2010; 16); “…the laptop may turn any public or commercial
space into a private workplace or play space, and since people can take their work and their games with them wherever they go, the whole
traditional opposition between workspace and private space breaks down.” The same can be said of mobile phones as what is unspoken in this
quote is that the internet plays a large role in breaking down these borders between our spaces. It’s not just Samuels who talks of borders being
torn down due to technology. Joshua Meyrowitz and Doreen Massey (from 1985 and 1994 respectively) both discuss the effects technology has
on our space and how the internet is significantly reshaping the world in which we live. To quote Kirby once again; “You are the text, there is noone
else, no ‘author’; there is nowhere else, no other time or place” (Kirby, 2010).
Yet while digimodernism is evident in terms of traditional media consumption, there appears to be some discrepancy in how consumers receive
messages through channels made possible by digimodernism; i.e. interactive videos, viral videos, and so forth. Take QR codes; while the
participants had used a QR code, none of them seemed particularly impressed or convinced that they would do so again. The payoff between
effort and reward was not seen to be fair, and with good reason. If the information gained from scanning a QR code could have been presented
in an easier to ‘read’ manner, why use the codes at all? The argument of ‘just because we can, doesn’t mean we should’ might be applied here,
as it would appear that so far, QR codes are not being used in ways which are attractive to consumers. The same effort/reward problem was
seen with the ‘adutainment’ videos; although entertaining, they take far too long to the call-to-action. Although this might have provided some
cover for what is otherwise seen as ‘just another advert’, they were seen as requiring too much effort and time for such a simple message.
Furthermore, while they might have been fun, amusing and innovative at first, now that it has become a trend, they no longer have the impact
and appeal they once had, and as a result, consumers don’t feel compelled to watch or take part. The other potential problem raised was that of
the message and/or brand becoming lost in the ‘fun’. Whether it be advertising or branding, the risk of becoming ‘too fun arises. From the focus
group, it would appear that while the advert/video is remembered, the brand/message isn’t.
Ultimately, what the focus group demonstrated was that while consumers are able to decipher traditional adverts and marketing quickly; while
their media consumption has changed; and while they are aware of the ‘new’ technology and the possibilities it presents, they do not expect nor
demand that it be used in marketing or advertising. Indeed, when it is used, it would seem as if it doesn’t have any particularly positive effects at
all. Envision, an advertising agency based in Denmark, published a book titled ‘Fuck Forbrugerne’ (Fuck the Consumers) in 2010. In it, they say
(Envision, 2010; 27);
“Communication professionals, advertisers and marketers have heard that consumers think traditional adverts suck for a very long
time now. The problem is that one of the results of this is a tendency to hide the advert, and cover the message. The result is a new
weariness in consumers. While they might still think that traditional push-adverts are bothersome, this hidden marketing is
perceived more and more as irritating, and a disguised way to just talk condescendingly to them. Why don’t the producers of it have
enough faith to be open and honest?”
This quote is extremely similar to some of the points raised during the focus group. While technology allows for entertaining ways through which
brands can reach consumers, it should not be seen as something that ought to be done.
It is fair to say that marketers and companies have begun to realise that they no longer have complete control of their brand, and have
recognised the need to engage and involve consumers (Kaplan, 2005), whether it be through social media, campaigns, or through
crowdsourcing adverts. As it has been claimed (Shiffman 2008 cited in Groom 2008; Brown, 2003; Proctor & Kitchen, 2002); consumers are
changeable, fickle and inconsistent. While we have moved in to the ‘age of participation’, where ‘consumers’ create and take part (Kotler &
Kartajaya 2010: 3), and where the consumer and whole supply chain are collaborators in the marketing process, there still exists a problem.
Kaplan’s (2005) quote from earlier; “Smarter, technologically empowered, time-starved consumers want marketing that shows more respect for
their time and attention. Until we get better at engaging consumers, they’re going to continue to push back and resist what advertisers are trying
to deliver to them”, can now be seen in a different light. Whereas before, the focus could be said to be upon ‘engaging’ perhaps now, the focus
should be placed upon ‘time-starved’.
Technology, as it has been seen, has enabled and necessitated consumers to always be ‘on’, and to engage in what Linda Stone calls
‘continuous partial attention’ (Stone). Consumers have become impatient, a strong characteristic, it could be said, of the digimodern consumer.
We are, as digimodernism says, fully engaged in the text, constantly producing and participating (Kirby, 2010), yet at the same time, brands and
companies have used this technology to produce advertising and marketing that demands time from consumers. Time to download a
programme in order to scan a code; time to sit through an ambiguous viral video; time to decipher a vague advert with a hidden message; time to
engage in the latest interactive vide or advert in order to get to the message; time which my focus group felt was not rewarded sufficiently.
The last point to discuss from the focus group is whether age had any influence in opinions. Unfortunately, as said, one of the participants born
after 1980 did not attend, which resulted in just two ‘digital natives’ being present; Lise and Søren. Although they were both born just after
1980, they were the most participative in the focus group, sharing more and having stronger opinions than the others. Although they had ‘taken
part’ in more of the examples shown than the others, they shared the same opinions when it came to the discussions. In fact, as probably
noticed, they were the most vocal when it came to expressing their thoughts whether they were positive or ‘negative’. For this study, I do not
believe age to be a significant factor. However, this is strictly in this study; as I will come to discuss, other ages, i.e. those born more recently,
might very well present quite different findings.
It has been the goal of this paper, to answer the problem statement of; how does the shift into digimodernism radically alter society, further
upsetting the balance between consumer and marketing, and what challenges does this shift present to marketing communications?
Through this paper, I have taken a social constructivist standpoint, meaning that I have had an influence on the outcome of the research, and
that this, the result, is my interpretation of it.
The central claim of this paper was that we have entered in to the beginnings of a new paradigm, that which Alan Kirby calls digimodernism.
Technological developments, such as the internet, have had a profound effect on society. The ways in which we, consumers, interact with this
new technology, have become so advanced and so integrated in our lives, that society has undergone a significant and permanent change. In
turn, these changes in technology and society have had an undeniable subsequent effect on marketing, and the ways in which consumers
receive and interact with it.
I began the body of the paper chronologically with postmodernism, and a brief look at the postmodern consumer. This provided the foundations
for the main theory of the paper, digimodernism, and also demonstrated that digimodernism does not represent a clean break from
postmodernism, but simply a technologically enhanced evolution; an inevitable continuation of society, due to the revolutionary advancements in
technology. After examining the blurred ‘edges’ between postmodernism and digimodernism, which served to illustrate just how closely related
they are, I introduced the focus group. The focus group consisted of 5 participants, to whom I showed a total of 5 different cases all of which
demonstrated digimodern traits. The main aim of the group was to find out how the participant’s media consumption had changed, and how they
interacted and viewed the digimodern cases. A secondary goal was to find out if age affected their views. Coding of the focus group provided me
with four key areas; media consumption, effort vs. reward, adutainment; the conundrum of virals and fun, and, product or image. A summary of
these enlightening areas has allowed for this section, the conclusion.
Here, I will wrap up this paper, by tackling the two questions within the problem statement, one by one, the first being; how does the shift into
digimodernism radically alter society, further upsetting the balance between consumer and marketing?
As said, the shift into digimodernism from postmodernism does not represent a clean break from postmodernism. Many aspects of
postmodernism are still to be found in the digimodern society, and indeed, consumers are still, to some extent, postmodern consumers. The
societal postmodern tenants of change, complexity and consumerism remain fundamental elements in society today, yet the ways in which
consumers interact with, and in, this society have changed dramatically.
Technology has altered the way in which consumers interact, and the way in which society functions. It brought about the democratisation of
information, and forced organisations, companies and brands to be transparent in their marketing activities, and to acknowledge their loss of
complete control. It has enabled consumers, though still the fickle and fluid consumers of postmodernism, to evolve dramatically. It has blurred
the line between our ‘real’ world and our ‘virtual’ world to a point where they are essentially one and the same.
Consumers are more aware, more able, and more switched on than ever before. They have become authors of their own text, able to pick and
chose what they see and hear, as well as have a direct say in the outcome. As a result their role in the marketing mix has undergone a genuine
revolution. The role of the consumer has shifted to a participative one, an engaging one, and an active one.
So what challenges does this shift present to marketing communications? In answering this part of my problem statement, I will also address my
hypothesis’ main point of should consumers be integrated into marketing communications, or perhaps the real question is; to what extent should
consumers be integrated? However, before I discuss this further, I will address the problem statement.
By carrying out a focus group I able to get a unique perspective in to consumers’ lives and the way they consumer and interact with the new,
digimodern marketing communications. The same changes in technology that empowered consumers also enabled marketing to create
innovative, fun, interactive and engaging adverts and campaigns. However, while consumers, their media consumption, and the cases are all
digimodern, significant problems became very clear in the analysis of the focus group. While digimodernism allows these campaigns, it also
means that digimodern consumers are constantly ‘on’, expecting immediate feedback and results. The overwhelming problem perceived by the
participants in the focus group was that the effort and time required to decipher the message was not consistent with the result or reward. While
the marketing efforts included the consumer, giving them ways through which to interact and customise the advert, it demanded their
involvement, thereby still marketing to, and not marketing with.
In regards to the question of age, the results of the focus group indicated that age did not make a significant difference. However, the gap
between the digital natives (born after 1980) and digital immigrants (born before 1980) was not very large. I do believe that if this gap were
wider, there might exist some differences. This is discussed more in the following section.
The second problem highlighted was that by making the campaigns innovative and fun, the message was frequently lost. Again, while technology
allows for extremely entertaining adverts and/or campaigns, it results in the message becoming either lost, or overlooked. The same applies to
viral videos; while the brand must not be overly apparent, this, combined with the novelty of the video, overshadows the brand and/or message.
The paradox that digimodernism presents to marketers is no where more evident than here; technology has allowed for interactive, engaging
adverts which take precious time with which to participate, yet it also constantly presents to consumers ways by which they can live their lives
faster, thereby making them impatient and unwilling to spend too much of their time on one task.
It would appear that marketing just can’t win.
Campaigns and adverts have been made more engaging, innovative and fun, and yet still consumers are not satisfied. While Badot and Cova
(2008: 213) saw marketing as in need of a revolution, it is my conclusion from this paper that what is needed is an evolution. Marketing need
not completely abandon control and power; giving consumers complete power means, to a large extent, giving up creativity and responsibility.
Nor should marketing completely reformat advertisements; engaging adverts and campaigns need not be time consuming and cryptic.
In order to engage and entertain consumers, marketers and brands must engage yet respect ‘time-starved consumers’. It can be fun, it can be
adutainment, but it should also be quick, relevant and honest. Consumers know an advert when they see one, and are no longer as condemning
of them; this means that brands no longer have to hide; the message should be clear, and not lost in lengthy puzzles or impressive effects. It
should be delivered promptly, allowing the consumer to interpret it, and move on.
A market with philosophy is what marketing should be aiming for. This does not mean handing over the creative brief to a crowdsourcing agency,
or extreme participant from consumers in the campaign, but simply providing an even balance between effort and reward. As I presupposed in
my hypothesis, consumers do not have the time or patience to solve puzzles, or scan a code in order to access a piece of information they could
have simply read. Technology maybe integrated in society, but ‘just because we can, doesn’t mean we should’.
Further research suggestions
Each day that passed during the writing of this thesis provided me with more information. This area is getting a lot of attention (Kiss, 2010;
Farey-Jones, 2010; Herngaard, 2010; Pedersen, M., 2010; Olsen, 2010) at the moment, as brands and marketers struggle to find out how to
approach consumers today. This has proved useful, as many of my sources have appeared during the writing process, but it has also proved
frustrating, as they often appeared too late for me to include. However, this does mean it is an important topic, and one which must be looked in
to further. This paper has scratched the surface, and while it has revealed some interesting points, I wholly believe there is much, much more to
As I stated, I do not believe that the ages of my participants played a particularly influential role – in my focus group. However, as also stated, I
do believe that if participants who were born more recently were involved, the results might well have been different. My ‘digital natives’ were
born very close to 1980, which begs the question of whether someone born in 1978 would have different norms and attitudes than someone
born in 1980? I do not think this is the case. Those born in 1980 were already 15 years old when the internet became popular, meaning that
they had already adapted to life without the internet, without smartphones and without digitalisation of almost any kind. I do think it would be
extremely interesting and relevant for a focus group made up of participants born around 1990, as this would mean they truly grew up with the
internet, and digital forms of communication. However, although this would mean they were fully accustomed to technology, and were true digital
natives, it is perhaps feasible that this would only make them more ‘time-starved’, and even more impatient than those born earlier. Another
focus group made up of those born on or after 1990 would have enhanced this research, giving it more depth and validity, and allowed more
detailed insight in to whether or not age really does play a factor in the digimodern consumers’ view of marketing.
A further point of interest could be placed on the location, that is, the country in which the focus group is held, and the nationality of the
participants. In countries where digimodernism could be said to have a ‘firmer foothold’ (e.g. digital television being the norm, and so forth)
consumers might have differing attitudes to the cases covered in this paper. If more accustomed to the processes, they might view them in quite
In sum; further focus groups made up of younger age groups, and/or different nationalities could afford very interesting information, providing
marketers with detailed knowledge of how consumers in this digimodern age prefer to be targeted, and engaged.
“I was watching the telly earlier today, when on came an advert. It was (I think)
selling sausages. It turns out they wanted me to go onto the internet after
watching their advert, and instead of looking at pornography, go to their microsite
(which is a bit like a website that nobody goes to), and then put up a video. A
video that I would make.
Now I don’t know about you, but pretty much all I’m looking for from the maker of
sausages is some really tasty sausages. That is all. I don’t know if there’s been
some terrible misunderstanding, where you go the idea that I’d really like the
prospect of coming home from work and spending my valuable free time taking part in
your stupid idea about sausages, or tea, or washing bloody power, or pretty much
anything else for that matter. But here’s the thing. I don’t. I don’t want to make a
film, or draw a picture, or nominate a friend. Or compose a soundtrack or re-edit
your advert. Really, I don’t.
If you’d like to tell me what’s good about your product, fine. I may buy it. I may
not. I know that might sound boring, and I know it must be very tempting to sit in
your nice, comfy offices and dream up schemes where normal people like me forget
our everyday cares and participate in your marketing. But, to put a not-too-fine-apoint
on it, please, please, PLEASE, if you wouldn’t mind, awfully. Leave me alone.
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LARA: OK, let’s start just with some introductions so we can all know what each other does and….things like that.
KRISTJAN: My name is Kristjan, I’m 35, and I work as an IT-consultant
ANDERS: I’m Anders, I’m 37, and I work as a ticket seller
LISE: I’m Lise, I’m 27, I work at an advertising agency... That’s it!
JENNIE: I’m Jennie, I’m 32, and I’m the mother of two kids, and I study Moderne Kultur and Kulturformidling
SØREN: My name is Søren, I’m 28 years old, and I’m a Digital Campaign Manger at Vizeum, and in my spare time I’m an electronic musician so I
programme a lot of software for myself and other musicians, and that’s basically it.
LARA: OK, cool. Well I’m basically going to start with telling you what my thesis is about, and then run through a pretty short presentation, and
this is really – I don’t know if you’ve done focus groups or not before but it’s just a sort of brainstorm thing, just talk to each other and there are
no wrong answers and all that kind of crap. I will be keeping an eye on the time, so if I do say ‘OK that’s enough’ it’s just really so we don’t run in
to 3 hours of chit-chat, and it’s going to start off pretty broad and then come, sort of, narrowing down, not particularly narrow though.
2 minutes: PowerPoint begins
OK, so that’s what we’re doing now, blah blah blah, this slide, you don’t have to worry about it too much, it’s basically to have something up there
while I ask you these questions. So to start off, your media habits, do you think they’ve changed at all in recent years, like how you watch TV, do
you even own a TV, that kind of thing, and if so, say, and if no, then also tell me!
KRISTJAN: I don’t have a TV.
LARA: What do you….do you watch TV another way or…
KRISTJAN: I watch movies and series on the computer.
LARA: Do you stream?
KRISTJAN: No, no. I’ll watch movies if I have a DVD or something.
LARA: OK, yeah. What about the rest of you?
LISE: I think the change in my TV habits is that when I want to watch a series, or follow a series, if it’s not coming out fast enough on the TV, I’ll
watch it on the internet, and I’ll find it on American pages or something. That’s the biggest change I think; I can watch what I want, when I want,
and not wait for the TV programmes to be broadcasted.
ANDERS: Yeah, same here. I just use TV for news. If I want to be entertained I get it on iTunes.
SØREN: I actually just cut down my TV package to an absolute minimum because I also watch everything I need to on the internet, and especially
series: I never follow them on TV anymore, for the same reasons, so I can see it at my convenience.
LARA: Same with you, Jennie?
JENNIE: I’m not that advanced actually, I’m pretty dependant on channels. It’s also because I’m not entirely aware of what’s legal and illegal you
know, I don’t really check that out, I just take what’s on. I just discovered Love Film not that long ago
JENNIE: They send them to me! I was going to Blockbuster every weekend…
LARA: Well what about things like YouSee – does anyone use that or have a box or anything…like video on demand…
JENNIE: Oh, is that like the TiVo kinda thing?
LARA: Yeah I think so….
JENNIE: No, I haven’t done that –
LARA: No, wait. Tivo is like when you can record TV and pause it and stuff right?
JENNIE: Yeah, yeah.
LARA: No, this is just so you can order movies through you….
SØREN: You can actually also record TV
LARA: Oh really? I didn’t know, I thought it was just for movies…
JENNIE: I don’t know what it’s called but a friend had one of those ‘media boxes’ she called it, through which she could do that kind of thing, but
I’m not sure. I’m just not that advanced, I spend so much time on other things, like I don’t have the time to… I like that element also of surprise.
LARA: Right, yeah. Anticipation, that kind of thing. I think it’s also that Denmark in general is a bit behind, even my parents have one of these
media things and they’re forever pausing TV and stuff, and the first time I went over there and saw it, I was just like ‘how are you doing this!?’ It
was so embarrassing….
KRISTJAN: It’s also probably due to the fact that in Britain there are more commercials..
LARA: Right, adverts all the time.
KRISTJAN: Well basically you can programme it to skip all the adverts.
LARA: Even better then! Er, it did actually just occur to me that I didn’t tell you what my thesis was about, having said that I would. But basically
it’s about how technology is changing media consumption, from anything from TV to magazines, and if that is going to have any effect on
marketing, which is things like being about to plan your TV so you skip all the adverts, that would be a pretty big effect, um, but back to the
questions; aside from TV is there anything else that has changed that you can think of? You know, use of your mobile, anything.
KRISTJAN: The death of newspapers, that’s what people are talking about all the time.
LISE: Yeah well I use my iPhone all the time to check, you know, where am I right now, to check my email or to go on Facebook or Twitter and
stuff like that. I have it with me all the time, and carrying it around, almost bring it to the toilet as well, so it’s always there.
LARA: And are you all smartphone users, I think you are all…..
Group: Yeah (mumbling)
LARA: And it’s the same for all of you…pretty much do everything through it
Group: Yeah (mumbling)
KRISTJAN: I’m actually only a recent smartphone user
LARA: Oh really?
KRISTJAN: Yeah I tried to keep a distance from it, I tried to keep not connected to too many things, but then I had to actually go and find an
internet connection to do things….
LISE: I think another change in media, just looking at the list there, is that 6/7 years ago I just used the internet to look up information, but now I
use it more and more for sharing information, and getting inspiration from others, and also for fun, but also sometimes just for business.
LARA: OK, cool.
KRISTJAN: Yeah I think the internet made some kind of connection possible that wasn’t possible and people have started to figure it out,
connection people and groups even though they’re in different countries now people co-ordinate things in different countries doing very
interesting things. I mean, there’ve been some campaigns in Britain regarding alternative health care making campaigns, and that was basically
just coordinated through Twitter. People just saying oh I found this and I found this over here, and then suddenly a lot of stuff was happening,
which was kind of interesting.
LARA: Yeah, yeah. Alright. Sort of on the same mobile-theme, have you ever – talking about how you take it with you everywhere and how you do
pretty much everything through it, do you ever use it to take part in things, for example – and don’t be embarrassed because I’ll tell you I’ve done
it – text in to things like Big Brother, or Talent, or X-Factor.
Group – yeah yeah (mumbled)
LARA: Yeah? OK.
LARA: No? Ever? Nothing? It doesn’t have to be any of these TV shows.
LISE: I’ve texted in for competitions….
ANDERS: Or donations, for a charity.
SØREN: I’ve donated money to a charity before but never participated in any competitions.
LARA: But never in anything that will give you some sort of ‘say’. I mean the reason I did it was because I thought I have this opportunity – you
know I always complain about who wins these things and I don’t remember what show it was or who I voted for, but at one point I sat there and
thought, you know, I’ve got this chance to affect the outcome of this TV show and all it takes is a text message.
LISE: I rarely do it but I do it sometimes. For the same reasons you said – I always think it’s so stupid who wins these fucking shows, so if I like
that person then I should….
KRISTJAN: But it only really works interconnected with TVs. There’s no other opportunity, I mean you have to be watching a show for it to really be
relevant or make an impact.
LARA: Do you mean you have to have some sort of emotional investment…
KRISTJAN: No, it’s basically because you get some kind of (inaudible)
SØREN: But you can have outdoor ads (others: yeah) and papers.
LISE: I’ve tried that in conferences where you respond and at the end everybody’s answers are put up so you can see what everybody thinks –
instant feedback kind of thing.
LARA: Did anybody go to Roskilde? This is completely random – I haven’t got it written down, but I know that they are really quite active in social
media and stuff. Did they have any kind of voting system that you could maybe see the next day in the newspaper or anything like that?
SØREN: Er, actually I worked for iByen, which is part of Politiken, which had an online stand and they had an entrance for mobile users to
comment and rate concerts and send in pictures and then you were able to win stuff if you had the best….you could win tickets for next year or
something if you had the best Roskilde picture and you could win some stuff if you had the coolest tattoo and stuff. So they had a lot of things
going with Roskilde Festival. On top of that I know they made an iPhone app that was quite cool, where you could schedule your Roskilde and see
which bands were playing where and how many people checked-in and stuff. So there was quite a lot of things going on with mobiles…
LARA: What about you, Jennie. What’s your experience?
LARA: Well with the texting in, have you ever…
JENNIE: Yeah, yeah, it was the…..everybody was Tweeting about it last year…X-Factor. That’s kind of it, and the charity thing but nothing more.
LARA: OK! Do you all know what this is?
Group: (mumbled) Yeah/yeah I think/it’s a barcode
LARA: Yeah, OK. These are just some adverts, obviously, from Ralph Lauren, one with one without, and then a Calvin Klein billboard from a
campaign they did with the QR codes instead of pictures, and I’m just interested in what your experience is with them; have you seen them
anywhere, have you used them, if you have, was it worth it.
LISE: I’ve seen them at the bus stop, you know, where you got something on your phone if you took a picture of it, but I didn’t try it myself
because I found it a little bit difficult to understand what I’m supposed to do. You know, I’m standing at the bus stop and there’s just a big poster,
so I’ve just seen it but I didn’t try it.
LARA: But do you know how it? I know that I didn’t realise that I had a scanner on my phone – it was just there…
KRISTJAN: Don’t you just take a picture of it?
LARA: Yeah I think you can, mine just has a scanner….
KRISTJAN: Using the camera anyway.
LARA: Yeah yeah….
SØREN: But I thought the problem in Denmark was that you had a lot of different applications to read the bars, that some bars only worked in
some applications and some bars only worked in others. So if had one application it wouldn’t understand some of the bars and I think that’s the
major problem in Denmark right now, so if they can make like a universal one that would be great.
LISE: Yeah, when I saw it it was a couple of years ago and I didn’t have a smartphone and I just wondered if I was supposed to take a picture or
KRISTJAN: DSB have been using them as well.
SØREN: DSB were the first ones to use it, my brother did that campaign for them. They took it from Tokyo and they had like mixed experience
with it. Because people weren’t really used to it and they didn’t know what to do with it, and the landing page was really, really bad.
LARA: I was going to ask, do you know what it went to, like where you arrived?
SØREN: It went to a competition, they did it in collaboration with Sonofon I think, or something, so when you were on the platform waiting for you
train you could take a picture of one of the ads on the platform and then it went in to this quiz thing and you had to answer some silly questions
that were impossible to answer wrong and then it said ‘you are now part of the competition’. For me it was just a harder way than sending the
texts if it had had the question there and then said ‘send the answer to 1213’ that would have been a lot easier, than downloading an app,
taking a picture of it, waiting for it to scan, coming to the competition page, and then…
LISE: And then you miss the train
LARA: Has anyone else ever scanned one on a magazine or on a thingy…
JENNIE: I think I did once…. I remember looking at my scanner app and thinking ‘Oooh’ and then coming across one once, so I scanned it and
nothing special happened. It didn’t really do anything so it’s like, what’s the point?
SØREN: The thing is, I don’t know what that one does, the Calvin Klein one, but H&M have made very, very clever use of it. They put it in all their
clothes in Germany or in Britain I think, and like, your friend has a cool pair of jeans or blouse and you can say ‘hey, where did you get that’ and
they can just take the barcode from the washing thing, and then you can scan it and buy it online, directly.
Group: Oh that’s clever/smart
LARA: That is cool. This Calvin Klein one just takes you to the advert, because I think their campaign before, as it normally is, was a lot of people
wearing virtually nothing, and they get a lot of heat for that sometimes, so this time, they put up the code, you can take a picture of it, and then
you see the video on your phone. Instead of having it up there
LISE: But that’s a lot of work for a YouTube video. You know? I’d feel a little bit cheated, like ‘what the fuck? Didn’t I get anything?’
JENNIE: I remembered, if I see a book I like, I can scan that barcode and it’ll go straight to Amazon and I can just log in and order it, so that’s
cool, that sort of thing, and actually, to be a bit progressive here, if Netto, made a Netto app, you know like sometimes you can’t find the price of
something and you have to go all the way to the other end of the store to scan the price, it would be so cool if you could just take your phone out
and there you have it, that would be cool.
SØREN: You should work in marketing!
ANDERS: I think things like that [the examples] are quite boring really, but it would be useful if it was universal, in that way [pointing at Jennie], in
restaurants if you’ve been there and you like it you can just scan it and have all the information on your phone, right there. These are [examples,
again] trying to make fun out of something that really isn’t there. For me, at least.
LARA: Right. This isn’t a good question as such, as it’s not as if you have a choice when you open a magazine, but basically if you saw the one
with the code on it, do you think you would make the effort and scan it or do you think you would…
LISE: Well it depends who the ad was for? I mean, if I knew they were making always really funny, crazy, original ads then I probably would, but if
it’s just people being naked, then hey, I’ve seen it before.
LARA: What about if you saw it in a different place, like Søren was saying, like in clothes or something, would that make you a bit more curious?
LISE: If I knew it was of some use to me, you know, if I’m reading a ladies magazine, and I’m looking at some shoes, instead of looking in the
back and seeing where can I buy it, if there was a barcode there and I could scan it and get the information right away there on my phone, that
would be cool.
LARA: So as long as there was a little bit of text saying ‘if you scan this it will take you to XXX’
ANDERS: Yeah, if it makes your life easier (Group sounds of agreement), you will scan. Not for fun.
SØREN: Actually I just thought of, in Norway they also have a cool way of using that, they just use it the other way around so if you book an
airplane ticket you get a bar code….
JENNIE: Yeah I’ve seen that!
SØREN: So to check in you just scan that….
JENNIE: They do that in Canada too.
KRISTJAN: They do it in some companies over here too, but you just can’t use it for anything, it’s on your ticket but that’s it…
SØREN: But here you get it on your mobile so you just put your mobile under the scanner and then you’re checked in.
JENNIE: And then you have your ticket with you.
LARA: That’s very cool.
ANDERS: We have that at the cinema, or will do soon…
ANDERS: Yeah so you just have a barcode on your phone.
JENNIE: So instead of waiting you can just…
LARA: You have like a scanner you can just….
ANDERS: Well now it still prints out a ticket, but in time it’ll be just a scanner for your phone.
JENNIE: Are they going to do that with the buses here too?
LARA: Well I’ve seen people getting on the bus and just flashing their mobiles…
KRISTJAN: Well that’s just an SMS ticket
JENNIE: Yeah, that’s an SMS ticket, yeah. Well I’ve seen they’ve installed these things…
SØREN: Yeah that’s for the smart cards which will just scan…
LISE: It’s not going to be smart by the time they’ve finished!
KRISTJAN: It would have been smart if they had finished 2 years ago.
LARA: Is it going to be like the Oyster Cards in England?
Group: yeah, yeah.
LISE: Well it calculates the price, so you only pay for how long you travel.
SØREN: No more zones.
JENNIE: They’ve had it in Finland for 10 years as well.
KRISTJAN: If you really want to see that then you just have to go to Japan and they just use their phones for it. They don’t scan anything, they just
go in and put their phone across, which has a chip in it, that’s why iPhones can’t sell in Japan – they don’t support it. I think they’ve sold like 20
[Lise asks if she can shut the door, she does so]. They use their phones for everything, even buying stuff, so they’re just so much further ahead
than we are.
LARA: Um, OK, I think that’s all I had to ask about that. The next few cases I’m going to show you, they’re not all adverts, as such, I think there’s
just one actually…
SØREN: OK just looking at the title…
LARA: I know, for some reason I thought ‘Chicken’ would be better than ‘Burger King’
SØREN: Well no, I really mean the ‘mad cow’ bit. Do they really want to put that in there?
LARA: But the whole sort of basis is that I’m going to show you what I suppose you could call the ‘traditional’ TV advert, and then the slightly more
interactive advert, and then we can talk about it after. I don’t know, you’ve probably seen it. The sound is really quiet, I’m afraid. Not that you
really need it but it’s just coming from the computer [computer is connected to a very large TV]. Or there is no sound. That’s weird... I’ll make the
Pause as Burger King advert plays
LARA: The line is something along the lines of ‘so good you’ll even cheat on your cow’ or something like that [Chicken so good, you’ll cheat on
beef]. So that’s the normal TV one, and this, you might well have seen this, I’m not sure, but it’s a little bit old… Do you know it? The subservient
Group: both yes and no
LARA: OK, well what it is, is basically you come to this page, and you can type in anything you want, and he’ll do it [I demonstrate]. I think there
are something like 360 different commands you can put it, and he’ll do them. But that’s the basic idea. This was hugely successful, everybody
loved it. Did you, the people who know it, did you go on it and play with it….
KRISTJAN: Yeah, I played around with for a bit
SØREN: Yeah me too.
LARA: But which of those do you think appeals to you more? Which is more interesting? Which one of them makes you recognise Burger King
more, or has a bigger impact?
SØREN: That’s a funny thing because I’ve been wondering about that for quite some time now, if that really makes you want Burger King burgers
more, because the other one, the message goes through more clearly I think; this is a burger, this is good, the cow is mad. This is just a crazy
guy, jumping around, doing what you say, but it could be just a YouTube video or something. If it didn’t say Burger King up there I wouldn’t have
thought about Burger King at all.
LISE: No, it only makes Burger King look really hip and cool, but it doesn’t make me want to buy a burger. It doesn’t make me hungry or anything.
I look at the other one and I see a really nice burger. This one, it’s a cool ad, but it’s not going to make me buy a burger.
LARA: So would you still call it an ‘advert’ then?
LARA: Oooh ‘adutainment’
ANDERS: Magic’s happeneing!
LARA: Quick, write that down!
KRISTJAN: But I wonder, there must be different goals. They might just want to brand Burger King as a name you’ll remember, and the other one
to go and buy that particular burger.
SØREN: But they want to brand themselves as a hip, new burger place…
KRISTJAN: It’s a chicken burger, as far I as remember…
LARA: They both are.
SØREN: No, but it’s only to put out a statement that we’re hip because I just saw the same commercial for….hvad hedder det…(group confers a
LARA: Oh yeah, Tipp-Ex, or whatever it is.
SØREN: And that’s like the most boring product ever, and I was wondering if I was in the supermarket and had the choice of two of them,
wouldn’t I just take the cheaper one still? Maybe they made a cool commercial, but it’s just the same with – it’s the same with Burger King;
maybe they’re hip but that’s not the reason I’m going for their burgers. But maybe it is for some people.
KRISTJAN: Well I mean if you don’t have any preferences and you have two burger places in front of you then maybe you would chose that one.
LISE: Yeah well I don’t see the brand right there, I don’t see the name, so it doesn’t make me recognise it when I’m standing outside two burger
bars. If they’re both unknown I’ll pick whatever. Yeah, maybe the price is what it comes down to.
JENNIE: I think it just looks dodgy.
LARA: What about if you can’t see it is Burger King – I know it was shared a lot on Twitter and Facebook – the fact that you get it through your
friends, and can’t see it’s an ad, does somehow change your perception of Burger King or the product?
KRISTJAN: Maybe with a different site, I mean, this is just burgers, ‘Does it Blend’ was fun because it was kind of different, and for a long time I
didn’t realise what the brand actually was, but now, if I ever need to powder anything, I’m going to buy that one.
ANDERS: Maybe it does do something, subconsciously. I think it might do that. I mean, Burger King is such a big brand that we all have a
preconceived notion of it, and I think it’s very difficult for them to change it. So that might be a way for that…
LARA: But what did you think, I mean, in what way did it change…
ANDERS: I think because, or the reasons they did it, for example, a lot of musicians have started on YouTube in that way, and suddenly
everybody all over the world knows who they are, so maybe they’re trying to…
LISE: But they already are, they have their name all over the world so I don’t think it’s that. I think they leave out their name on purpose in case I
don’t want to pass on ads to my friends, and I don’t want to be putting Burger King out all over the place. But I think that’s a little bit of a mistake
because if the video or thing is fun, I’m going to send it, no matter how many brand names it has on it.
ANDERS: But it does say Burger King on it, at the bottom in the small writing, and that’s what I mean – you’ve been entertained by it, you thought
it was fun, and in some way that will have an effect on how you think of Burger King.
LISE: No, it wouldn’t make me hate them but it definitely wouldn’t make me love them.
SØREN: The thing is, that’s one of the premises for the viral campaign, is that it has the brand somewhere, but it has to be really, really subtle
otherwise it won’t go as a viral. I think you’d look at it differently if it said Burger King, there in the corner, then you would look at it as an ad but
now its entertainment.
LISE: I know that in the beginning when companies were making funny YouTube videos that was the case, but I don’t think it’s the same
anymore. If we know it’s an ad it doesn’t really matter anymore.
SØREN: But the placement of brands matters, here it’s not in your focus view anymore, and I think that’s really a, uh, main thing you have to do
with the viral campaigns, I think what this is about is just brand awareness, it’s just that you think about Burger King, that it’s just in your head
somewhere. But like selling products, this…
KRISTJAN: I think this one is about 5 years old.
LARA: Yeah it is quite old.
KRISTJAN: I think when it first came out it didn’t say Burger King.
SØREN: But it’s the same with all viral campaigns, if it’s Quiksilver or if it’s T-Mobile or anything they’re not really selling a product…
KRISTJAN: Selling image…
SØREN: Yeah, it’s image. It’s making people aware of their image, and often their campaigns have little to do with any of their products but are
just part of their image thing, but what I meant before is that I’m really curious to know if this has any effect on consumers, or if people still go for
the things that are like best, or cheapest or whatever. I mean, does this hip campaigning have any effect other than just, OK, whoa, we got Old
Spice we got like 8 million viewers, but how many young people are out buying Old Spice now?
KRISTJAN: There’s a couple, I can’t remember names now, but I mean there’s a lot more like that have rebranded themselves as fun.
LARA: But you were saying something about it’s something that’s been done, and you look at them and you instantly think ‘oh its fun, but we
know it’s an ad because it’s…’
LISE: Yeah I mean, I don’t have a prob…. I think that, lesson number one when you started doing the viral movies, is people don’t want to be
passing on ads to each other. So, but I don’t think that’s true anymore. If it’s entertaining, I don’t care if it’s an ad.
JENNIE: Old fashioned entertainment.
LISE: Yeah so you would just pass it on and the brand was very present and I don’t think it matters anymore.
SØREN: So if you know it, it doesn’t matter anymore.
LARA: Where as the total opposite would be the classic Visit Denmark, where the brand was no where to be seen.
KRISTJAN: That was just the most pathetic campaign ever.
ANDERS: I think it was fantastic
LARA: I loved it too!
KRISTJAN: I was working in Sweden at that time.
LARA: OK, great. Moving on…. This one is a little different, again you might have seen it. I don’t know what’s happened to the sound, but you
don’t need it really. It’s just music, and you can read it.
Pause while Levis’ video plays
LARA: OK, well you get the idea. Have you seen it before?
LARA: OK. But you know the whole plugin thing on Facebook, you’ve probably seen the little ‘like’ buttons on other websites. Have you ever…do
you click on them?
JENNIE: I hate the like button. Because after that happened, basically what happens is that you have those little info site [info tab on Facebook],
where you fill out what you like, music and stuff like that, interests etc, and I remember I wrote all that stuff down, then all of a sudden the like
button came, and they like created something called ‘everything’ that you could like, and I had automatically liked it just by writing it in my
interests, and I was like ‘what the fuck’ you know? I didn’t click like on this, so I just unliked everything, categorically everything. It really pissed
LISE: I like it to remember stuff. I use it if I see a product where I don’t know where to buy it…
LARA: On an external website?
LISE: Yeah, er [gives an example brand] I click like and now I know where I can buy it. Or I tend to forget about it. So yeah, I use it for Post-Its.
SØREN: I only use it for bands, and labels to follow them. But when I saw that ad there, the thing is with the like button and brands or products, I
feel like first of all it’s intruding, on my private space and number two, I feel like it’s passing on ads. Because I know it’s going to pop up in my
friend’s feed, like ‘Søren liked Levis’ and I feel that’s me passing on an ad for Levis.
KRISTJAN: I think you can only see it now if you go to people’s profiles…
LARA: I think I get it in my feed.
KRISTJAN: Oh, maybe I’ve just blocked it. I’ve got like a couple of thousand friends so I have blocked some stuff!
Group agree that they do still get it.
LARA: What about here, I mean, this is on their external website so you can go to their site, choose jeans, choose women’s jeans, blue jeans, and
if you were to see that one of your friends has liked this particular pair of jeans, do you think that would have any effect. I mean, would you look
at that pair before you looked at another pair, or do you think that once it starts getting to a few hundred likes for every pair, it loses it’s impact?
LISE: I can’t really decide whether I like it or not. I can see some good stuff in it, and I can see some really bad stuff in it. If you buy a pair of
special edition Levis, you don’t all your friends to buy them too. As then they’re not that special.
ANDERS: I think it would have an effect if they turned it around, and asked everybody, which of your friends would look good in these jeans, so if
went on the site and looked at some jeans and it said that 25 of my friends think I would look good in these jeans, that would probably affect me.
KRISTJAN: Yeah that would probably make me choose a different site.
ANDERS: Yeah, ‘your friends think you look fat in these jeans!’
ANDERS: But I think it varies from person to person, as a lot of people are turned on by a product being popular.
KRISTJAN: I think this level of detail is too much. Had it been Levis, like Levis, but on an exact pair of jeans, it’s too much.
LISE: I think I could use it as inspiration from what your friends like, like ‘hey I didn’t know those jeans’ or ‘I didn’t see them as being cool’ but if
my really cool friends think they’re cool then….
KRISTJAN: I think my problem is that I have quite a different use for Facebook than who ever they are targeting.
LARA: But this is an external site. I mean, have you ever liked an article on a new site, or anything? When it says ‘319 people like this, be the first
of your friends’ and I’ve never liked anything on an external website. I don’t really know why, I think I just find this Facebook world domination a
LISE: What about news articles?
LARA: No, I’ll share the link, but never like.
JENNIE: Yeah because they have that little button that says ‘share’, and I’ll do that on Twitter, but I haven’t liked an article, because I don’t really
see the point, unless like you say [indicates Lise], as a Post-it.
LARA: What about if you see that your friends have liked something, do you ever leap to check it out? Or does it make you curious?
KRISTJAN: Sometimes I get curious and I’ll check it out, if I’ve never heard of it.
LISE: But I don’t know if I’m mixing sharing stuff, and liking stuff, because I think if someone shares an article, and I read the first few lines and
it’s interesting, then I do look at it and read it, but I don’t know that liking makes me do the same.
SØREN: I must say I’m really annoyed with all the groups and things and companies that you can like so my friends, I just stop reading them
when it says ‘Lara likes Copenhagen Marathon and Levis’ – I just go past them, I think I’ve become blind to them…
JENNIE: If that stuff happens too much I actually just mute them, you know that little X, so I hide everything from them.
LARA: OK, back we go. Where’s my mouse? This one is similar to the first one in that I’ll show a normal TV ad and then a different version. I don’t
know where the sound has gone as it was one just before you arrived!
JENNIE: Is that it hanging out to the left?
LARA: No, that’s always been out. Not that the sound is particularly vital, but it’s just shame. No important vocals anyway.
Pause as the anti-knife crime video plays
LARA: So that’s the TV. I don’t know if you’ve seen this. But this is the YouTube campaign. Oh there’s sound!
Pause as the second anti-knife crime video plays
LARA: So then you’re presented with two different choices, and you can chose one and it takes you to another video and you build up your own
story and outcome. So have you seen this?
LARA: [to Kristjan] Did you do it? Did you go through the whole thing?
KRISTJAN: Yeah yeah, in several different ways. You end up dead quite quickly.
LARA: Yeah I found that out too. I don’t make good choices. Which do you think has a bigger impact? Which would work – I know that’s a bit of
loose term, which creates more curiosity for you?
KRISTJAN: I think this one is best as it actually shows you how many different ways there are to do the same thing, or stop something, where as
the other just shows one given situation. But the question is, will the target group really listen to either of them?
LARA: Do you think there’s a chance that people will play with it, like we did, you know, it was fun, in all honesty, to see how quickly I could get
killed or kill someone.
LISE: I guess it’s whether you believe that interaction will help change a persons actions or whether the emotions of looking at a story that tells
you someone is going to get killed and this is what’s going to happen, do you believe that will make people change their behaviour, and I think
it’s very, very different to each person.
ANDERS: When I saw it I stopped there [indicates point at end of video], as I thought of course they’re going to teach me not to walk around with
a knife so…. I haven’t seen the others though, but I was bored right away. The other one was interesting as I wondered why are these people
walking around with a coffin? It had a much greater effect on me. You know the message, you know it’s not a great idea to walk around with a
knife. So when I see something like that, I just move on.
LARA: So the whole interactive thing doesn’t make you want to take part…
ANDERS: No, I didn’t do it.
LISE: You don’t want to be lectured when you already know what the answer is.
ANDERS: Yeah, yeah.
SØREN: I remember there was a really catastrophic one in Denmark, a year ago or something, I can’t remember who made it but it was some
kind of public service announcement about hitting women, and they made this….
LARA: Smack the Bitch?
LISE: Oh yeah!
LARA: That was us! Well, not us, but in house.
SØREN: That was us?! That was really horrible.
SØREN: It turned the whole thing around because it was quite fun smacking the bitch
SØREN: And if the message is don’t smack the bitch, then it’s completely upside down.
LARA: I heard that it was hugely successful because the site had got an amazing amount of hits, but you just know its people playing with it
LISE: It’s not for the right reasons. Yeah…you don’t want to encourage people to smack their bitch up.
ANDERS: But at the same time it did start a debate in the press, so it did have maybe a very positive effect.
KRISTJAN: Yeah, Australia had some very similar things, but much, much more rough because if they hear that someone is being killed by a
knife, they take a camera crew down there and film and interview and ask what happened. At least the first few times you see them they’re
LISE: Yeah, but you tend to get used to them right? So after a while they don’t have the same effect.
LARA: Do you think that’s what they’re trying to do with these, make something different, because you do see the same drink driving, knife crime
ad, over and over again…
KRISTJAN: Do you?
LISE: Yeah and I think that’s why the movie is a bit original in that sense, that you have to watch it a while to get the point, I didn’t get it until I
saw….oh, now I get it, now I get it, and then I wanted to watch it until the end.
ANDERS: For me it’s just too much effort. If I can see what it’s about I don’t feel like going through everything just to get the message that I
LARA: So it’s a bit like the QR code – if you can see that it’s about clothes or whatever, you think why should I make the effort to take a picture or
play the game just to see another advert…
ANDERS: Yeah yeah. It’s like Calvin Klein – I know they don’t make burgers so I know it’s going to be something with clothes. And if I never really
liked Calvin Klein – why bother?
LISE: I think it’s good to show all the different ways. You know, kids carry a knife and don’t think about all the different ways. I like how you can
investigate, and you might think you are doing the right thing, but you’re not.
LARA: It’s a shame I can’t get this to work, I wouldn’t go through the whole thing as there are like 8 or 10, but just to give you an idea.
ANDERS: Maybe if you’re stupid enough to carry a knife, you might not be clever enough to figure out what happens!
LARA: That’s true!
KRISTJAN: At least if they’re sitting in front of their computer doing this game they won’t be out carrying a knife!
LARA: This is another very similar sort of thing in that it’s more a campaign rather than an advert, probably no sound [video plays through on high
speed]. Oh! Crikey – that was it!
LISE: I don’t get it!
LARA: Oh there it is, there is sound.
Pause while TV license advert plays
LARA: OK, so that’s the TV license obviously.
LISE: I think it’s quite funny that the whole advert is about pushing one button then the voice says that you have to click a few buttons!
LARA: Yeah, oh, and fill out 10 different forms. Er, and this [begins to open URL for Swedish TV license advert]
SØREN: Oh they made a second one!
LARA: Oh I hope there’s volume on this.
SØREN: I actually thought the first one was quite brilliant.
LARA: Bit of an introduction….. OK, I’ll upload a lovely old school picture of myself.
Pause while TV license video plays
LARA: That was pretty much it. So yeah, two TV license adverts. What do you think of them?
KRISTJAN: I have the same problem here that I had with the first one, I think its fun, but I couldn’t remember what the first one was for, paying
your license, until I saw this one.
LARA: Oh you mean the first Hero thing?
KRISTJAN: Yeah, yeah.
LARA: Right so it was just a fun thing to do.
KRISTJAN: Yeah, and it distracts from what they’re actually trying to do.
LARA: OK, that’s a good point. Did any of you do the first one, upload a picture?
ANDERS: I haven’t seen the first one.
KRISTJAN: It’s less extreme but it’s basically the same.
LARA: Your face gets put on a card, and this TV announcer announces you in a conference as the hero for paying your license and the whole
world is watching and goes bananas.
LISE: Yeah I tried that one.
LARA: Where did you see that?
LISE: I don’t remember….
LARA: [to Kristjan] Do you remember?
KRISTJAN: Well I was working on a project in Sweden!
LISE: I don’t know if it was because I couldn’t really hear the sound, but I also had difficulty in realising that you were a hero because you paid
your license, so I missed the point and only saw it as a great gimmick.
LARA: Well the audio doesn’t make much difference really. You know, ‘we’re here in Sweden, the land of the hero’ that sort of thing. I had no idea
what the first one was about either, and I would never have guessed it. I only realised at the very end and even then, I was a bit ‘wow, OK, so
you’re a hero for paying your license!’
LISE: But it’s funny with the license as in Denmark they always play on guilt; you know, where people are eating your sushi and using your phone,
and I then I heard, I think it was Sweden, where they create the ones that thank the ones that do pay, you know, and I thought that was funny.
We just point out the ones who doesn’t pay instead of saying thanks to all those people who do pay.
LARA: What about you guys?
SØREN: I got the first one as well from my brother and it didn’t have anything attached it to, so the whole family got a video of him being a hero,
and I was also thinking ‘what the….’ But at the end you can see it’s for license and I actually thought it was quite brilliant but again, I didn’t have
any possibility to pay the Swedish license but if it had been Danish I don’t know if I would start paying license…
LARA: Start paying, huh?
SØREN: I am paying!
KRISTJAN: I think it’s impossible to avoid it these days. I don’t even have a TV and I pay it!
SØREN: Again, it’s a hip thing and it’s very entertaining and you spread it and everybody sees it and laughs, but I have no impression of how it
turns out in the end – if that makes people pay more.
LARA: So you think if it was the Danish version, would that have made a difference?
SØREN: The thing with these ads maybe I’m a bit pessimistic, but it’s all about news value, and they’ll just be biting each others’ tails because
when that one is over, McDonalds will make one and Nike will make one and people just talk about who makes the coolest ad, but the whole
brand issue, product thing it’s kind of in the back ground all the time, so again, when I go out and have to buy something, I’ve seen so many viral
ads now I won’t go out and think ‘oh right, Nike made that really cool ad’ so when I’m looking at shoes it’s like ‘oh Nike that’s a cool brand’… You
know, I’ve seen so many now I only remember the ad and how it was at that point when it was new and when it was cool and really exciting and
then I just go on to the next one.
LARA: Do you think they’re just becoming regular adverts basically, or they could become, like the flash-mob thing you know, just another one…
SØREN: For me, it’s like watching sitcoms, you can’t watch the same episodes two times, because the jokes go flat and you just get bored.
LARA: That’s what I mean, so the viral ad that you saw just loses the impact.
LISE: It only loses it if it doesn’t do something new and really cool and when I saw the first one, where you could…. Or maybe you got a phone call,
which was a liquor brand I think, I can’t remember it now….no…can’t remember, but someone called you up and you said your name and you
were on a big show, and you could see it on the internet and stuff like that. That was really, really cool.
LARA: Oh OK, that’s cool.
LISE: Yeah, but then it’s OK. They just have to renew themselves all the time. But the problem with those, the license ones, is they’re such a long
way to the call to action part. I mean, if I had got it and it said ‘click here and put up your name and address and we’ll send you a bill’ it would be
much easier, but yeah, it’s not a positive thing to get, so it is quite difficult. But I suppose it does create a common feeling that it is a cool, or
great thing to pay because if you don’t, you get crappy TV.
LARA: So do you think they’re missing a call to action, like you said? You know, a bit like the knife one, its fun, but it’s interesting and it makes
you think a bit but there’s nothing making you do anything.
Group: murmurs agreement
LARA: It’s like ‘take part in the ad’ but that’s it.
Group: yeah, yeah.
ANDERS: But also it’s trying to tell you something that you already know, or here, they are trying to sell you something that you’re already getting
LISE: But they’re not even selling it, they’re just asking you to buy it.
KRISTJAN: I think it’s interesting that all these are using the interaction with the user in different ways, because sometimes you can use it much
more efficiently and more simply, for instance the classic ‘count the passes one’…
LARA: Which one?
KRISTJAN: Count the passes? Where you had to count the passes between two people…
LARA: Oh yeah.
Group: oh yes
LARA: And there’s a bear..
LISE: Or a monkey?
KRISTJAN: Yeah, there’s a bear walking through, and of course you’re participating because you’re trying to count how many passes and then
suddenly you realise the whole message is don’t focus on one thing, be aware of everything, right?
LARA: Yeah, that’s true because that’s participation in different way.
KRISTJAN: And I think that’s probably one of the more effective ones I’ve seen because you realise that if I don’t see this dancing bear across the
screen, I might be able to overlook a bike.
LARA: Oh that’s right, it was for bicycle awareness.
SØREN: Actually today I saw a viral that Nike made at Tour de France, and I’m probably going to contradict myself with everything I just said, but I
actually remember that one. It’s quite cool, but the funny this is that when I saw the ad, I thought ‘well Nike owes it’ – I’d better say what the ad
is. They made this chalk robot for cancer patients, so you could text or tweet a message, in memory of Dad or something, and they had this chalk
robot that drove on the course and it would write these messages on the road, in chalk, and so you could see your message on live TV, but the
funny thing is that when I saw the ad I thought well it’s about time that Nike gives something back. So what I mean is that when I see T-Mobile
getting everyone to dance in Kensington Station or whatever, or something else, I think the cool thing is that they’re leading the way on how
technology can be used to put the message through, but at the same time I also have the impression that they’re giving something back for all
the shit we’ve tolerated for a long time. So for me, it’s not just being aware of the product or brands, but it’s about them trying new stuff and
giving something back.
LARA: But that wouldn’t affect, if you were in a shop and…
SØREN: No, it wouldn’t affect my buying habits, but it would just be like…this is for you.
KRISTJAN: Well Nike has a particularly bad reputation in the US so that might be what they’re trying to work on. The sweatshops…
SØREN: But everybody does those…
KRISTJAN: Yeah but its Nike who gets the worst….
LISE: But all those questions about the shopping, and if you’re standing there would it make you chose that brand, we always tend to think that it
doesn’t affect us, but studies show that if I see a brand of chewing gum on TV or billboards all the time and I go to the local shop, I will probably
choose the one that I’ve seen so many times, and I… I don’t know. We think ‘no it doesn’t affect me’ but it probably does.
ANDERS: Also with the Burger King commercial, all of it is so weird that you actually connect the brand with humans working behind the brand.
Nike isn’t just the swoosh, there are people there. That’s a positive thing. The brand is still the brand but it stops being just the brand.
SØREN: Even though I really agree with the thing will the billboards and if you see the ads [indicating Lise] the thing is that with these virals again
it’s if a chewing gum company did a viral with a man who actually could kill plants with his breath or something and it was just hosted by
Stimerol, I think the message is too blurred by the whole ad, the whole event, that it takes too much effort if you just want brand awareness. You
have to be too much involved with it and there’s too much going on to make the subliminal chewing gum thing because you’re right if you’re
exposed to the brand from different sides all the time, you go in to a shop and you have all these brands and you’re like – that one I know – but
when you have like one viral campaign and when you’re in front of all these brands, I’m not sure that the brand name will pop up, not even the
LISE: No, there’s too long wait from the story in the viral and then the brand just gets a little mention somewhere and that’s what I also meant
about the chicken commercial, I mean, to me, I don’t think it would matter if the wall behind the chicken was filled up with the Burger King logo I
would still pass it on anyway. I would see the brand, even though I wouldn’t pay attention to it. I would still see it.
LARA: So you think, like in the other ones, that it’s almost too much work, it’s the wrong expression but it’s…
LISE: Yeah well it is too much ‘brain work’.
LARA: Yeah, brain work – you’re not going to make that instant link.
KRISTJAN: Well there was a little more to that campaign, Burger King were pushing out specific commands that would get the Burger King logo
on the screen…
LARA: Oh really? But with the other ones, like with the Tipp-Ex one, when you put in a command, it’s like the brand gets a bit lost.
SØREN: Yeah, I didn’t even know it was Tipp-Ex.
LARA: No, I’m not even sure, it’s just the only brand I know of it. Like hoover.
LISE: But that’s the point, it’s a difficult balance as you don’t want it to be too much of a commercial but if it’s really cool, it doesn’t matter, but if
it’s not really cool….
LARA: But if it’s really cool, like you said, it does kind of matter, as you…
LISE: You forget who it’s by…
LARA: Yeah, as in the Hero one.
LISE: It’s like that drumming monkey one, that’s been a huge success, when Cadbury had a big crisis in England…
LARA: But that was just a TV ad.
LISE: Yeah I know but it was shown so much on YouTube – that’s where I saw it – but I couldn’t see what the fuck a gorilla playing drums have to
do with chocolate, but I did see it at the end of the commercial, and I read that the sales went sky-high afterwards.
SØREN: The funny thing is like Mukhtar’s birthday, I liked it and I sent it out to everyone I knew and I…
LARA: Has everyone seen it?
KRISTJAN: Nope. Not heard of it.
SØREN: OK, it’s this bus driver and they have a hidden camera, and some people get on and start to sing happy birthday…
KRISTJAN: That would be the point where I switch off!
SØREN: OK, but then everyone’s singing, and then there’s a riot outside but they turn around and all the signs are saying ‘happy birthday’, and
he’s not aware of this, so he gets all emotional and cries and stuff. And I didn’t know it was a commercial, and I passed it on and said ‘this is the
coolest thing ever made’, and I think it took at least half a month or a month before I read somewhere that it was for Bedre Bustur and then all
the focus was on the event agency that made it, but the point is that some of these virals become so good that they overshadow the brand.
LARA: Like you said, all the focus was on the agency, and not even on the product, or the bus trip thing, the point.
LISE: The funny thing is that if it’s really bad you always know who made it, but if it’s really good, you often don’t know who made it. If it’s bad you
want to know who the fuck could have made it!
ANDERS: I don’t think fewer people visited Denmark after Visit Denmark’s video.
LARA: It would be interesting to see if you could get numbers and see how many people came or didn’t come to Denmark, compare the two years
Explain the timing
Explain the whole focus group – brainstorm – talk to each other
Thesis is essentially about how technology has changed the way we consume/use media, from television to magazines, and that’s what I hope
you’ll help me with today.
Do you think your media habits have changed in recent years?
o Like how much TV you watch actually on the TV, or do you actually use your computer to check your Facebook, or how do you use
o Has new technology in your life affected this?
What about digital TV? Do you skip the adverts or anything like that? What about YouSee – videos on demand? Ever use that?
How much do you use your mobile/smartphone for media?
o Taking photos, uploading etc
Have you ever sent a text message in to a show, such as X-Factor, or voted for a programme like Big Brother?
o Sense of involvement?
o Is it what kids do?
Do you know what this is (QR code)?
o Have you ever seen one? If so, where?
o Were you curious about it? If not, why?
o Do you think it makes the advert any more appealing?
o Do you think it’s a nice spin or just extra effort – they could have said ‘check out the video/ad on….’ But would you?
o Are adverts in general more engaging?
o Does this work?
START AT 40 LATEST
OK. I’ll show you some video cases now and we can discuss them as we go. They’re not all marketing they’re just different examples of ‘new’
Chicken (die, puke, hide behind the sofa)
o Have you ever used this?
o Do you think its advertising/marketing?
o Did it make you want to buy chicken?
o If your friend recommends it do you trust it more?
Levis’ social site Start at 1 latest
o What do you think about it?
o Have you used it or anything similar?
o Is this marketing?
o Do you think you’re more likely to buy jeans if your friends like them?
o Does it make you trust the advert more?
o Do you think it’s ‘interesting’ or ‘annoying’?
Knife crime 1.20
o Which do you think was the more effective example?
o Is this marketing or something else?
TV License 1.40
o Again same sort of thing
o Which is more effective?
Having unofficially done the rounds and asked who is interested in helping me with my focus group, this is the 'official' mail, with date, time, and
other details. Most importantly, a big thank you to you all for getting back to me so quickly, and so happily (even if it is just for the cake).
As I briefly outlined in my first mail, my thesis is about digimodernism; the beginning of a new cultural paradigm which has ultimately been
brought about by changes in technology. In order to gain insight in to whether or not these changes have affected media consumption I have
chosen to hold this focus group, during which I'll be asking you a few questions about your media use, and present to you a few cases for
At the start, while we eat cake, I'll ask you to fill in a very short questionnaire about yourselves and your media habits - no long answers required.
Shouldn't take more than a few minutes.
The focus group will be held at Vizeum, Møntergade 5, 5., Copenhagen.
The date is the 15th of September, at 17.00.
If you can make it on that day, but can only come a bit later, do let me know as I'm sure I can shift the time a bit :)
Of course some of you are coming directly from work, so we won't start immediately. There will be some buns, cake, water, tea and coffee, so
hopefully we can unwind and have a bite to eat before we get started.
The total running time of this focus group will be max two hours.
For your information, the focus group will be recorded (audio only) and will only be heard by me. Of course the examiner may hear segments if
he/she sees fit to do so, but other than that, what you say during the focus group will not be repeated anywhere. Before we start the interview, I'll
collect your signatures to show that I have your permission to use the transcript of the interview in my thesis, and that my supervisor and
examiner may see it.
I hope this all sounds reasonable for you. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to email, or to call on 50452396. To confirm your
participation, or to decline it, please just reply to this email.
Many thanks, and all the best :)