Convergence Culture

Our last class centered around trends in global media; focusing on how global media products are exchanged across borders, or molded into a new hybrid creation, looking at how media from one nation becomes a global phenomenon, appealing to other nations, or not.  A common example to come up in the global media discussion is the telenovela and its global popularity.  I had always viewed telenovelas as the equivalent to the US soap operas (which don’t seem to generate the same excitement), and so honestly it had baffled me how popular they are around the world.  However, while in Latin America I definitely witnessed the excitement generated around each new telenovela to come out and how the appeal is spread across genders and ages, so I guess it makes sense that it could spread across countries.

In my investigation into the telenovela phenomenon, I found out about a new campaign by Old Navy in partnership with Telemundo to produce a mini-telenovela to appeal to Hispanic women in the US.  The series is called Estilos Robados (Stolen Styles) and is running for 6 weeks on Old Navy’s Facebook page and YouTube Channel, as well as Telemundo’s mobile site.

What is most relevant about this ad campaign to our course is its focus on participation from the audience.  In the show, audience members vote on the main character’s clothes and as a result the show’s outcome.   The idea is that they will not only watch the show but will take part, participating in it as opposed to merely watching it by influencing the outcome through voting, and as a result, generate even more buzz around the product, Old Navy’s clothing and brand, as they  become more invested in the telenovela – watching each episode, voting, checking back to see the results, becoming involved in the fan culture around the show.  It is what Alex Bogusky of CPB advertising agency is quoted as saying in Mark Deuze’s “Convergence Culture in the Creative Industries” article, “the more stuff people can do themselves with these ads, the better.  It’s more fun, but they also feel like they own it.  They feel more empowered as consumers.”

At one point in our discussion Professor Hayden talked about the fact that the rise of participatory media is no longer a new phenomenon.  We have now become used to the idea of not merely consuming our media but doing something with it, whether that is commenting on it, reacting to it, sharing it with someone else or on a social network.  Therefore, the important questions to ask now are related to where this is headed and what does it mean. The Estilos Robados case seems to provide an example of where things are going: new actors are new producers, multiple platforms are involved, and the audience has a new role.  The lines are blurred as to what media really is when it becomes an extended ad campaign for a retail company and is something we as the audience take a major part in providing input.  And with more investment on our part do we become more invested, loyal consumers?  I’ll be watching to see how it turns out.





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