Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Forget the Medium is the Message. Now the message is the Medium.

There are some things about our post-post modern world that make me feel a little uncomfortable. Among others, things like nano-chip implants being a reality now instead of a dream (for tracking products and people), cloning, which I think will have mental, physical and spiritual ramifications that will be incredibly destructive, and this one:

What I call UM. Ubiquitous messaging. Yes, advertising has been a part of the social and cultural landscape (at least on a mass scale) for the last 150 years. And yes, in the second half of the 20th century is seems ads began to appear everywhere.

Rare is the spot on earth or in the media where there isn't an advertisement lurking. What makes them especially ominous is that they are only the physical manifestation of "messaging." Put another way, highly researched ways of altering the behavior of individuals and groups. Sure, it sounds harmless enough when you are talking about which brand of soap to buy, but the industry has moved light years ahead in terms of messaged behavior modification, reaching into all modes of behavior, not just purchasing.

We have entered a completely new realm. The realm of UM. Advertising and marketing were once distinguishable from content or "life." But now messaging is becoming ubiquitous.

Its in al the places you know of and its in all the places you don't notice. UM may be only in its infancy. Take for example the new paradigm where celebrities who go on talk shows are paid to mention, while telling amusing anecdotes about their life, a product they may or may not actually use.

A real life example:

Talk Show Host: What do you do for fun?

Guest: "I love spending time with my family, it helps balance out the stress and craziness of working in Hollywood. We like to go fishing and go on picnics and eat Ball Park Franks.

Another case in point. A recent article in Entertainment Weekly points out the hottest new trend in marketing for music and its stars is...Video Games. Bruce Flohr, a producer says in the article "its just as important as getting a record played on KROQ or Z100...When I landed in Los Angeles from mixing the latest Dave Mathews Band album, my first stop was a pitch meeting at EA Games."

EA Games releases about 40 games per year and they are now a big player in determining which songs are hits. Green Day's "American Idiot" debuted on MADDEN NFL 2005" last year.

Add to this the new models for advertising on the Internet, in print, in public spaces and we see a world where advertising in the new form of Ubiquitous Messaging will be not a separate aspect of our lives but so fully integrated that we will in part become not only an audience for the message, but the carriers as well.