‘Modern advertising endangers media diversity’

27 October 2007

STATE COLLEGE, Pennsylvania: Time was when the advertising world revolved around the simple 30-second spot. Put one out and, more likely than not, it was sure to capture everybody’s eye at some time or the other. But diminishing attention spans, a growing media clutter, and cutting edge consumer technology—through devices like personal video recorders, TiVo, etc—have made that possibility less certain.

The result, says Matt McAllister, associate professor at the college of communications at Penn State University, is that advertisers and agencies have had to scramble around for newer and more ingenious ways of drawing notice. Product placement, product integration, hybrid advertising, have all therefore become par for the course to evade “the revenge of the remote-control”.

But there is a flip side, says McAllister, author of The Commercialisation of American Culture: new Advertising, Control and Democracy (1996, Sage) and co-editor of Comics and Ideology (2001, Peter Lang):

“Large scale integrated advertising campaigns are taking away the diversity of media. Media look great, they are often spectacular. But when you really ask if we have true diversity, whether we have a lot of different choices, free from advertising, I worry some of the current trends are taking those choices away.”

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