Sunday, June 7, 2015

Marketing ​Is ​Culture - Reflections on ‘Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture’

It's over.
We've officially been university graduates for three weeks now.
We ended with a 4.0 GPA for the semester, and graduated Magna Cum Laude. It was a pretty cool feeling walking across that stage wearing an honors medal. It felt like we finally got something we deserved.

The last half of the final semester we churned out about nine papers of varying lengths. It's unlikely the bulk of them will end up here for you to read like in previous semesters because they weren't all gems. It being the final semester, and due to the reading and writing load being so heavy (it was another heavy credit load semester at 17 credits counting the internship - full-time is 12 credits - plus an additional part time job), and a smashed laptop closing in on "zero hour", a few of the papers didn't receive the best effort possible.

The following is a paper for an independent readings and study course. As a reflection paper, it is much more informal than most of the papers written over the last couple of years. It is meant to demonstrate that the text was not only read but understood and reflects thoughts, ideas, and viewpoints inspired by the reading.

The book was merely an okay read and very broad, but it did provide some base material for what could be further papers should grad school be a thing in the future. Jury is still out on that decision.
For the summer it's back to painting and a third year of gardening, and next week is a much anticipated two week vacation in Toronto Canada to really kick off the summer.

Enjoy the Reflection, should you choose to read it. As always comments and debate are welcome. Feel free to leave a message and/or read some of the other stuff around here. :-)




     O’Reilly and Tennant determine immediately that “we live in an age of persuasion, where

people’s wants, wishes, whims, pleas, brands, offers, enticements, truths, petitions, and

propaganda swirl in a ceaseless, growing multimedia firestorm of sales messages.”(1) These sales

messages add to the overall mass of information that one is subjected to each day, but these

messages also ​add​ to the culture, if not create culture. This is a contrary view to that of O’Reilly

and Tennant who ​seem ​to be hold a stance that it is in fact not adding to culture, but consuming

our culture.

     First, trying to separate marketing from culture in a way that can explain how it is

consuming our culture is futile. Marketing has existed for easily 3000 years, from the time

someone could articulate the benefits of one product over another using “public criers”. There is

even indication that print advertisements existed during those times. (2) Marketing has persisted

alongside culture for ages.

     Advertising and marketing are ​part ​of culture. They are influential forces which not only

are inspired by changes in society, but also reinforce and reflects those changes “Advertising is

the great mirror of society”. (3) While unsavory for many to accept, marketing is information which

imbues “cultural materials” into society (4) thereby becoming culture. As O’Reilly and Tennant

state, when “marketing seeps into feature films, arts, popular music, and even literature, it

changes the relationship between the arts and audiences.”(5)


Cultural Mediums and Advertising

     However, this intermix of art and cultural information, and marketing, is nothing new for

a 21st Century heavily influenced by the growth of branded and marketed entertainment via the

internet. Cultural mediums have always been influenced by advertising and marketing, and in

some cases owe their existence to them. Going back to the time of the first newspapers and

magazines, marketing was often the saving grace of publications, providing the funding required

to keep them in business.

     Looking to the 20th Century we can see Warhol with Campbell Soup and Coke from the

60s and the influence marketing had on the development of pop art. The pop art movement

added​ to the art world, it did not consume it, or eliminate new movements. Art, like marketing, is

always evolving with changes in society. Even in the 80s Lucky Strikes became a constant for all

of Stephen King’s characters that smoked. Theses examples may not have been marketing

directly, or even on purpose, but they were no doubt influential in the relationship between the

medium and the audience, creating associations that have become part of culture.

     Radio, film and television entertainment, on the other hand, owe much of their existence

to marketing ventures. Sponsored content was a staple of radio and television, and companies

would solely sponsor entire shows, such as Ovaltine’s Little Orphan Annie (radio), and ​The

Colgate Comedy Hour and Kraft Television Theatre (television)​. Even lesser known is the first

product placement in films, dating back to the 1920s ­ a mere thirty years into the life of the art 6

medium. In fact, without advertising and marketing there would have been very little newspaper,

magazine, radio, and television entertainment. Even today advertising and marketing are

essential to the culture of entertainment; social media and the internet depend heavily on the

industry for the ability to provide services and entertainment for free or at low cost. These

mediums, like their predecessors, are integral to the evolution and development of culture.

Further, marketing is essential to their livelihood, thereby helping maintain and influence culture.

     Not only does advertising and marketing influence culture, but in some ways it

theoretically inspires democracy, particularly via the internet. As O’Reilly and Tennant confirm,

“[...] a great characteristic of the Internet [is] the fact that it levels the playing field. Everyone has

access, [...] everyone can be heard.”(7) They cite YouTube as a prime example, a “great enabler [it

is] the first hugely democratic mass medium, where any one person could speak to millions if

[IF] her idea was big enough to resonate with the masses in cyberspace.”(8) Without marketing and

advertising there is no way to maintain the platform without heavy usage fees paid for by the

consumer, which would limit access severely, and therefore not be a catalyst to democracy.

Additionally, the internet has reanimated branded advertising, imbuing society with

opportunities to become part of marketing culture.



Branded Marketing and Culture

     Perhaps the second most interesting concept of ​The Age of Persuasion​ is branded

marketing, which has become a huge complex strategy. As earlier stated, the marriage of

marketing and art is changing relationships between art and audience. What marketing is also

doing is change relationships between brands and consumer, attempting to forge “genuine,

long­term relationships” by seeking to “invest genuine personality in their brand [...] invest[ing]

time, [and] finding meaningful ways to engage customers”.(9) They breathe life into a brand,

becoming what a consumer feels, forging emotional attachments. (10)

     One way in which they breathe life into a brand is through stars or personalities who

sometimes themselves are the brand (11) (Think Kim Kardashian) or become an icon. By using

films and their stars, musicians and their music to “influence fashions [and] drive sales” they

create demand and “persuade their audiences to accept their personal messages and viewpoints.”(12)

This branded and marketed entertainment personifies lifestyles, it is about creating a bonds

with consumers (13) while “​being​ what people enjoy and ​still delivering branding​”. Therefore

branded entertainment is about informing and influencing culture through embedded messages

delivered by “trusted” messengers ­ it is about being the culture through icons and “allow[ing]

customers to makes a statement about who they are”. (14)



Out of Touch?

     O’Reilly and Tennant say that in “[...] the living, growing, all­encompassing and

relatively modern culture of persuasion” marketers are vying to “take up lodging in some corner

of your mind”.(15) They seem oddly out of touch with the long cultural history of marketing, as

well as the evolution of the acceptance of marketing in today's modern networked society,

particularly among youth.

     They claim that youth are “becoming increasingly immune to the conventional marketing

messages” and that “they hunker down in front of their computers, putting up fences that most

marketers haven’t yet learned to scale”.(16) However, there is indication that youth is accepting of

target marketing methods because it leads to advertisements that are more tailored to them, and

therefore more relevant and interesting. Some research indicates that trust and value based

approaches work in marketing to youth.(17) Returning to the concepts of branded entertainment,

we can understand one way in which marketers create trust among youth audiences.

    According to O’Reilly and Tennant, “the larger the audience an advertiser strives to

reach, the harder it becomes to forge meaningful relationships with each individual customer”(18)

however, they seem to discount that through niche marketing and target marketing these

relationships can be created, which implies an analogous relationship which would in turn create

a more significant impact for the message at hand.

     Due largely in part to the development of mobile technology the relationship between

brand and consumers are evolving.(19) Another way marketers create trusting relationships with

youth audience is through the creation of social media stars who have established relationships

with their followers.(20) As O’Reilly and Tennant state, “the blunt realities of marketing to young

people are causing vast changes in language and tone of advertising. As their attention shifts

from mass media to smaller, online social networks, they’re sharing information and opinions

about products, brands and fashions”.(21)


Conclusion

     There are so many different topics in ​The Age of Persuasion, ​each of which could be

granted an essay of its own. For instance, the influence of marketing and the internet on the

consumer as a channel and the branded self (22); the power shift taking place between traditional

media and new media (23); the empowerment of consumers in the new two ­way communication

environment relationship with advertisers (24) and advertising as an art (25) ­all of these topics would

be worthy of further research.

     However, while plentiful in potential research topics, ​The Age of Persuasion: How

Marketing Ate Our Culture​ was far too broad and failed to accomplish what the title implies it

set out to do: explain how marketing ate our culture. What is ​did​ accomplish is providing a

wealth of examples on how marketing and advertising has contributed to the growth of our

culture and will continue to do so as it regurgitates the messages of society.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Citations:

1 ​Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. ​The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture​. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint. 2009. xiii
2 "Advertisement | Promotion." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Accessed 2015.
3 ​Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. ​The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture​. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint. 2009. 162
4 ​Bartholomew, Mark. "Advertising and Social Identity." ​Buffalo Law Review​ 58 (2010): 931­76. 
5 ​Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. ​The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture​. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint. 2009. 161
6 According to a lecture in Advertising and Society (Spring 2015) Red Crown gasoline was the first instance of product placement in the 1920 film ​The Garage
7 ​Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. ​The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture​. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint. 2009. 100
8 ​Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. ​The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture​. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint. 2009. 116
9 ​Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. ​The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture​. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint. 2009. 268.
10 ​Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. ​The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture​. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint. 2009. 187.
11 ​Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. ​The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture​. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint. 2009. 224.
12 ​Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. ​The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture​. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint. 2009. 149
13 ​Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. ​The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture​. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint. 2009. 221.
14 ​Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. ​The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture​. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint. 2009. 196.
15 ​Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. ​The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture​. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint. 2009. xv, 118.
16 ​Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. ​The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture​. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint. 2009. 77.
17 Sultan, Fareena, Andrew J. Rohm, and Tao (Tony) Gao. "Factors Influencing Consumer Acceptance Of Mobile Marketing: A Two­Country Study Of Youth Markets." ​Journal of Interactive Marketing​ 23 (2015): 308­20.
18 ​Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. ​The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture​. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint. 2009. 117.
19 Sultan, Fareena, Andrew J. Rohm, and Tao (Tony) Gao. "Factors Influencing Consumer Acceptance Of Mobile Marketing: A Two­Country Study Of Youth Markets." ​Journal of Interactive Marketing​ 23 (2015): 308­20.
20 Sloane, Garett. "Meet the Man Who Unlocked the Secrets of Mobile Marketing." AdWeek. September 14, 2014. Accessed 2015.
21 ​Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. ​The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture​. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint. 2009. 95.
22 ​Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. ​The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture​. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint. 2009. 108.
23 ​Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. ​The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture​. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint. 2009. 100­101.
24 ​Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. ​The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture​. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint. 2009. 104.
25 ​Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. ​The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture​. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint. 2009. 35.


Bibliography:

"Advertisement | Promotion." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Accessed 2015.

Bartholomew, Mark. "Advertising and Social Identity." ​Buffalo Law Review​ 58 (2010): 931­76.

Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. ​The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture​. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint. 2009.

Sloane, Garett. "Meet the Man Who Unlocked the Secrets of Mobile Marketing." AdWeek. September 14, 2014. Accessed 2015.

Sultan, Fareena, Andrew J. Rohm, and Tao (Tony) Gao. "Factors Influencing Consumer Acceptance Of Mobile Marketing: A Two­Country Study Of Youth Markets." ​Journal of Interactive Marketing​ 23 (2015)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Our Adventure Dog, May She RIP...

She was born on a farm in the country outside of a small town surrounded by other small towns in the the middle of nowhere in the Midwest of the United States. She was born of mixed breeds, Austrialian Shepherd, Keeshond, and Border Collie. She was gorgeous.
She was chosen because when we knelt to pet the puppies  in the litter they all ran away. But she stayed. She rolled over on her back for a belly scratch. She was ours immediately.

We named her Keesha. Her full name was Keeshandra, but at one point she was named "Keeshandra Sky 'da Bomb' Anderville" as named by one of two roommates who wanted her to have an amalgamation of her and the other roommate's last name. Everybody loved Keesha immediately, and it would be the same through her entire long life. She had a wonderful, gentle, yet protective disposition...and she was a bit batty sometimes and not at all graceful. You couldn't not fall in love with her.

Keesha started off life a princess among cats. About 16 to be exact. They, of course, were Mother's cats. It was just a year after high school graduation when we got her. We had moved up North, a few hundred miles away from where we had been evicted and left with no place to go, for what would be one of many forays in adult life involving living with Mother.
Sometimes it was as if Keesha thought she was a cat, crawling into your lap, as a full grown dog, rubbing her head and pressing her body against you in the way that cats do.

She got all the love and attention she wanted as she chased ducks across the yard and dug holes in the middle of potted plants. Later when we'd moved across the road to a derelict old farm house, she spent hours running in the fields, often bringing back something dead to bestow proudly on the doorstep, much to terror of the roommate who had only experienced city pets.
In the snow she'd dive, coming up for air, covered in powder. Nothing kept her sitting down, she wanted to be everywhere at once.

Alas, she was to move away from the vast fields where she spent her days running and playing, just under a year after she came to live near them. In a little two door Honda Civic, with her two human "mommies" and as much of their belongings as possible...and two cats...she headed west.

When she got there she had to live in an apartment, but it wasn't all bad because despite the rules she got let out to run free in the complex and have all sorts of new adventures. She didn't adapt to the potty training though, which took her almost four years to figure out. Nor did she ever take to a leash. If she was going for a walk, SHE was walking YOU.

She made many dog friends, some she went camping with near mountains and big lakes, swimming for the first time, running everywhere, her tongue hanging out in sheer happiness.

After her mommies weren't friends anymore and she moved to a new place with her two cat friends she had to say goodbye to them because the her new "daddy" didn't like them. She got a new sister, a horrible beagle mixed breed named Dolly who would be mean to her all the time and hit her with her front leg, which had a metal bar implanted in it. She was a spoiled dog who didn't take kindly to her new housemates. But at least she got to go to dog parks, swim in the streams there, and play Frisbee. She had endless love and energy for playing catch.
It wasn't long before she had to say goodbye to the big green mountains and lakes she loved, and go on another long road trip to a new home. She and Dolly moved East and she became a Chicago dog. She finally got a big backyard to play in and all sorts of new smells to experience.

She may have thought her big adventures were over, but it wasn't before long that her human mommy packed her up and took her away from her new family. Which was fine with her, because she didn't like them anyway, and loved adventure.

Unfortunately she had to live in a kennel for a couple of months before moving west again. Her human mommy packed up all of the things she could fit into a Ford Bronco II and they set off for something new. This time there were mountains to explore again, but these were more brown than green, and sadly there were no lakes. But there sure were adventures!

In the span of a year she got to live with a whole new set of people, tattooed and pierced people, and a little person.
And then just a few months after she had arrived, she got to move to Florida for awhile that included adventures sleeping in the Bronco II at a muggy Louisiana gas station, and then again in Kansas at a cold snowy rest-stop after it had been decided they should return to the mountains.
And then she lived in an old pool house in a bad part of town where her yard was a filled in swimming pool full of dirt. It wasn't the greatest of places and she wasn't allowed to go for walks, but at least she still had her human Mommy, and her mommy's tattooed friend, Body Piercer, to keep her company.
One night, while her human mommy and her roommate were trying to skip out on the rent in the middle of the night, to move to a better safer neighborhood, she almost got taken as collateral by an angry land lady! Luckily she was saved from being separated from the people who loved her, and she went to live in a new place...but that wouldn't last long...

Her human mommy went a little extra "crazy"...and she was stuck in one room with her for many many long days, and then was asked to move out. Having no place to go at the drop of a hat, it was back to the Bronco II for a few nights of sleep while things got figured out. But it was pretty cool, because she got to sleep at a park with a great view of the mountains, and got to run and play way more than she had been able to. And she got a new human daddy. The best human daddy a dog could ask for.

So she was packed up again, this time with a trailer hooked to the Bronco II, and they all headed east towards the Midwest to live with her human grandma, where she would spend the remaining years of her long life, in various different homes in the same city. She got to go on rides into the country ,and long walks in parks where she would play fetch and catch Frisbees and chase squirrels.

Her human mommy moved away after a few years and couldn't take her with because it was a whole other country; and her human daddy moved away too. She was left with her human grandma and grandpa, who loved her very much, and got a new giant yard for her to play in and took her to the lake every weekend from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend. She would jump around in excitement the minute she saw the coolers and suitcases emerge from closets, knowing that it was her favorite time of year. Her human mommy would visit, sometimes not so often, but in the last few years of her life she lived in the same house again, and went on lake trips with her...and then, one day, her family had to make a really hard decision involving her...

-----------------------------
She lived to be 17 years old. Her birthday had just passed. Last summer we had talked to Mother about what might have to be done, because she couldn't hold her bowels anymore (turns out she had been eating all of the cherry tomatoes from the plants in the garden and they were causing her to have accidents) and had started to lose her eyesight and her hearing, and we wanted a summer at the lake to be the last thing she remembered. But because she was still really active at the end of last summer, and despite her deteriorating senses she still managed catch toys, her "eternal rest" was postponed.

She made it through the winter, and this Spring had still been taking nightly walks. But then about three weeks ago it became apparent that she couldn't see or hear almost anything anymore, she stopped playing fetch, she no longer pulled on the leash during walks, she stopped eating and lost half of her body weight. She no longer enjoyed the things she had enjoyed her whole life and each day you could see the deterioration.

So it was decided that she should be given her final rest. She had the most amazing life almost any dog could have had - this story was but mere highlights of her many adventures - and lived longer than most pets, and it would have been cruel to let her continue to be in more pain, starving until she couldn't move anymore at all, just because it was going to be hard as humans to let go of her.

We took her into the vet yesterday. The scale read 20 pounds as they weighed her one final time. We were left to say our final private goodbyes before the vet came in to explain what would take place. Mother paid extra so Keesha could have a morphine shot before the euthanizing shot because it's a more relaxing way to go.

We cradled her head in our hands and held our face against hers, tears streaming, and whispered in her ear, telling her that she was the best dog ever, and that everybody loves her, and that it'll be okay.
Even before they had inserted the needle her eyes looked so tired, and before the full shot of morphine was injected she was gone, her head heavy against our hands.
It was probably one of the hardest experiences we've had over the last few years, and unlike any we can recall.

We've never had to put down a pet before, not as adults. As kids, growing up on a farm, those kinds of things got handled differently, or the pets died of natural causes because farm life is much closer to the life an animal lives in nature, and in nature animals don't live as long as house pets...especially those mother cares for. (Mother says the secret is water, plentiful water, as much as they want.)

Keesha was Our Adventure Dog. She was a constant loving and patient road companion. She was one tough hippie broad of a dog with the disposition of an angel.
She will be cremated and returned to her family. We have requested that some of her ashes be sprinkled at the lake she spend so many summers playing at.
And some of the ashes we want, so we can take small amounts on our travels, so she can keep having adventures, and forever be Our Adventure Dog.

 

RIP, sweet angel dog. <3

Friday, April 24, 2015

Information Glut as a Catalyst of the Fragmentation of Self: Implications of Advertising

The first paper to get a grade for this semester! There are four from this semester still floating around in a professor's computer waiting to be slapped with a grade.
Finally, the boost of confidence needed - just in time to tackle an 18 page behemoth...and with just 16 days to go...
Let's not forget the three other papers left to write.
Um, sure...no stress.
This is the first time this many papers have been put off this close to deadline. Good thing graduation is just a mere few weeks away...(but wait, what's that about getting a second degree?! More on that later...)

Here is it, as requested by one Mr Charles Bivona (of Facebook, Twitter and Blogging fame), in all of its 98% glory. The instructor for the class (Advertising and Society) is a tough cookie, and the topic chosen turned out to be logistically difficult in stringing together concepts to create a coherent argument, so the grade was a surprise. Of course now that it's done it looks ridiculously easy.



or read it here...

Information Glut as a Catalyst
of the Fragmentation of Self: Implications of Advertising

In The Saturated Self Kenneth Gergen focuses on social saturation caused by technologies themselves as the forerunners to increasingly fragmented self identity. However apt Gergen’s argument may seem, there are byproducts of the relationship between people and technologies that may be the real perpetrators. One such byproduct of technology and human relation is the increased abundance and dissemination of information and knowledge through information technologies. As much as there is an abundance of information, so is there a wide range of types. This critique will focus on a particular kind of information, which is that created by advertising. The position is that it is information itself that impacts identity control, not necessarily technologies. Rather, it is the ways in which information is created, distributed and processed through technologies that proliferates ostensible fragmentation of self identity.
Each stage of the technological revolutions - from printed words, to radio and film - has changed the shape of information and society[1], including how we understand and manage self identity. Focusing on information technologies, a connection can be created between advertising and the fragmentation of self identity in the post modern world. There are also strong implications for its nurturing of the “[...]populating of the self, [as well as] the acquisition of multiple and disparate potentials for being”[2] as it fosters dissonance and anxiety in identity control. 
As cable television meant the end of shared cultural experience through nightly news[3], so does information technology further contribute to the loss of cohesive shared experiences, facilitating the fragmenting of self. New advertising strategies attributed to the rise of information technologies and computer-mediated environments may extend this further, not only propagating it, but catering to a fragmented identities in society.

Advertising as Information and Culture
Advertising is a form of marketing communication and a medium of information. Advertising provides information about a product’s capabilities and characteristics, but it also informs culture through the use of symbols, creating “cultural materials”, cultivating and confirming stereotypes, influencing how we understand ourselves in the social world, as well as impacting the perceptions of the world in which we live.[4] The primary way in which we receive these information messages is through technologies, which have progressed from print to today’s information technologies. Whether we acknowledge it or not, advertising information affects the subconscious, which guides our cognition in our self-identification construction.[5]
Reflecting on the writing of Karl Marx, Neil Postman, in Technolopy, proposed that technologies influence people’s perception of social and mental life[6], which in effect influences culture. As Gergen further illustrates,“emerging technologies saturate us with the voices of humankind”[7] and these voices, whether they be in the form of entertainment, advertising, or social interaction, carry information messages. The exposure to these vast range of messages can lead to loss of coherent identity and to the fragmentation of self identity, “increasing sensitivity to the social construction of reality”[8], thereby increasing anxiety as we struggle with information that does not conform to our concept of self in a process called cognitive conservatism.[9]
The messages and information of advertising continues to change, mirroring the evolution of society.[10] With the growth of information technology, advertising messages continue to become more about the consumer of the product than the product itself, pandering to the insecurities of the target audience.[11] Advertising uses “cultural cues to communicate fairly complex messages [...] exploiting stereotypes and cultural references”[12] further capitalizing on anxieties of fragmented self-identity.
Evolving Advertising as Catalyst
There is a sweeping shift in our exposure to advertising information, as well as advertising’s exposure to our information. As marketing moves away from a traditional approach[13], developing new strategies like niche or target advertsing, taking advantage of innovations like cookies, tracking pixels, and developing emotional analysis software[14], the ability to cater to aspects of the fragmented self identity increases and persists. As technologist David Weinberger asserts, “by pulling together implicit data from multiple sources, marketers can avoid being fooled by our lopsided self-presentations on any one site”.[15] This not only validates the fragmentation of identity but facilitates the maintenance.
However, it is not perfect validation just yet. As Nikhil Seith wrote in an article for AdWeek, while meaningful messages cannot be crafted if identity is not understood - which is achieved through data - so far marketing isn’t doing an adequate job. Cookies aren’t really enough. The answer, according to Seith, is The Internet of Things - wiring your physical world to your digital world in order, which will combine increasing amounts of fragments and craft a more cohesive identity.[16] Therein lies the holy grail of advertising in its quest to profit from the satisfaction and validation of every theoretical fragment of self.
Social Influence of Advertising Information
A technology focused and saturated society is a condition of ”culture [and] a state of mind”.[17] Gergen asserts that saturation by technology is contributing to the reformation of society, and that this has implications on knowledge and information.[18] As the shape of knowledge and information becomes an increasingly social construction, involving networks of people, so does the dissemination of cultural information inform an even greater population.[19]
Cultural information provided by advertising is further distributed by the ever growing population of social networks, through visible relationships constructed with products and services by following the accounts, and by activities such as “likes” and “retweets” and “thumbs up”. These types of valuable “peer recommendations”[20] also reinforce the messages, giving new authority to the cultural claims of advertising and its information
Through the new network of knowledge not only do previous authorities on information lose the “singular” power of their voice[21], contributing to “the erosion of authority”[22], but the amount of information is expanded.  The revitalized authority of advertising messages in the hands of the masses, incorporated with the vast networks afforded by information technologies, leads to “dynamic” cultural influences and “multiple cultural knowledge systems” which individuals employ to “understand, interpret, and behave” in any given situation.[23] Given the multiple contexts of the world and information that information technology provides, “no transcendent voice remains to fix the reality of selves [into place]”.[24]

The Influence of Information from Advertising Relationships
In the information fueled world of the technology focused society, the definitions of reality become redefined,[25] including definitions of self and identity, creating platforms through which  “a barrage of new criteria for self-evaluation” are realized.[26]  Further, expectations are redefined due to increased information which “may also disrupt the social and psychological processes underlying identification through which individuals come to understand who they are as persons”.[27]
As Gergen states, “the technological achievements of the past century have produced a radical shift in our exposure to each other” pushing people closer, subjecting them to growing numbers of  populations, which propagates unimagined relationships.[28] There is an endless juxtaposition of information messages from diverse social groups competing with those of companies and products through advertising. This increases the amount of cultural information, cluttering media and culture[29] with complex arrays of cultural messages about who a person is or should be, which increase identity control anxieties.
Interaction with products and brands through the aforementioned social networking fosters the “manifestations of relatedness” in which “face-to-face encounter[s]” and “reciprocal interchange” become irrelevant in fostering and maintenance of valid relationship paradigms.[30] Gergen warns that “[...] one must be prepared for the possibility that media figures do enter significantly into people’s personal lives”.[31] This effectively plays out in celebrity endorsements and ‘celebrity as brand’ where personalities essentially become the brand or product.[32]  There is an undeniable allure and power of celebrities as a persuasive power.[33] By using celebrity to forge “genuine, long-term relationships” brands create “meaningful ways to engage customers” by infusing “genuine personality in their brand” or product and cultivating a bond.[34] This creates an environment in which a consumer can have a perceived relationship with entertainment personalities, particularly through social networking. The cumulative effect of this advertising strategy creates a significant informant of a branded personality whose messages can have a powerful impact on the fragmented construction of self identity, “allow[ing] customers to makes a statement about who they are”[35] through their relationship with the brands.
All social situations, whether it be “non-digital” or information technology-mediated, are environments where “we make ourselves intelligible to each other” while gathering “[information of] others’ patterns of being”.[36]  Brands strive to create relationships with consumers[37] through advertising strategies such as branded personalities, creating a plethora of identity information, and therefore become a further catalyst to the construction of self identity.
Understanding ourselves through interpersonal relationships, group affiliations, and advertising messages[38] - sometimes presented by a figure who is influential on an interpersonal level - continually adds to, influences, and changes the information we have available for identity control. While all of these social relationships may be seen as a catalyst to the “multiphrenic condition [...] in which one swims in ever-shifting, concatenating, and contentious currents of being”,[39] it is still the information provided that is used to guide, shape, and instruct self identity.

The Rational
In Gergen’s postmodernism sphere, we are doubtful about who we are, “dismantled” and lacking any “real and identifiable characteristics – such as rationality, emotion [...] exist[ing] in a state of continuous construction and reconstruction”. Accordingly, this postmodern dystopian perspective encourages the “[...] populating of the self, reflecting the infusion of partial identities”[40] creating environments in which Gergen claims there is no essence of self to remain true to.[41]  Gergen attributes this phenomenon to social saturation, but it may be something more; it may be the seemingly disordered heap of information that technology encourages, and it may be a reasonable response to the circumstance.
The fragmentation of self may be a completely rational and natural outcome in the domain of an advanced technological world experiencing a glut of cultural information. Drawing from a modernist perspective of self, where “knowledge of the world is built up through observation [and] it is not by virtue of heredity that we are who are, but by observation of the environment”,[42] we can infer that our environment influences and shapes our identity. We are what we see, hear and learn. We are what we are exposed to, and if we are exposed to scads of mixed information messages over time, then we become fragmented. Therefore, varying cultural messages, which influence us subconsciously[43] will shape identity and corresponding gradients of self.  To put it plainly, rather than understanding identity as being an innate inherited construct, we can recognize it as flexible. Just as we have learned to “juggle multiple principles of [information] organization [in the networked world] without even thinking about it”[44], over time so have we learned to monitor and implement aspects of identity, while in some instances, becoming overwrought with the violation of our sense of identity.[45]
Gergen’s assertion is that “the fully saturated self becomes no self at all”[46] and that technology which leads to social saturation is to blame. This smacks of “technodeterminism”, attributing the fragmentation of self to new technologies gives technology authority and power.[47] We are not being “made” by technology, even though its influence can certainly be seen as a factor. It is not technology, nor simply the social aspects perpetuated by it; it is the propagation of and exposure to its information, the glut of it, that fragments our sense of self.
To better clarify, if it was purely a social issue, and one was exposed to one hundred people in an echo chamber, fragmentation would be unlikely compared to being exposed to one hundred people with twenty different polarizing viewpoints. Ergo, social saturation does not guarantee a fragmented self identity.

Conclusion
In a rejection of Gergen’s usage of the term ”multiphrenic condition” and “unlimited multiplicity”, what he sees as “multiplicity” can be defined as “adjusted self” and is just one coping mechanism used when presented with a challenge to identity, like incompatible demands, in which an outcome can be a redefined identity.[48] People have always had to maintain separate “selves” - i.e. work self, family self, social self - “performing a variety of roles” throughout any given day in a process called identity management.[49] It is true that information technologies, such as social medias, intermixes these places or states of identity - for instance causing your “work identity” and “social identity” to collide - causing friction in maintaining all of the so-called “selves” a person must sustain as they move not only through the tangible world, but the digital as well. The condition of which he speaks is not that of separate identities, but gradients of a single identity that society encourages the individual to compartmentalize in order to be accepted.
Gergen asserted that “[Information] technologies of social saturation are central to the contemporary erasure of individual self”.[50] However, they may not actually be an erasure. These technologies, and more aptly the information produced through these technologies, may add, or simply alter “an individual’s sense of self”[51], encouraging self realization and reinforcing self perception while influencing all aspects of their identity.[52] Additionally, information technologies create opportunities, “enriching our potential for seeing connections and understanding things in contexts we have never considered” before.[53] In this way these technologies are an enhancer, not an erasure. Perhaps the answer lies in a more sophisticated understanding of the impacts of advertising information on self identity, the opportunities new technologies afford, and the recognition of the consequences of errant acceptance of vast array of messages that society is bombarded with every day through information technologies.


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Footnotes
[1] Postman, Neil. Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. New York: Vintage Books, 1993. 67.
[2] Gergen, Kenneth J. The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2000. 69.
[3] Weinberger, David. Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder. New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2007. 130.
[4] Bartholomew, Mark. "Advertising and Social Identity." Buffalo Law Review 58 (2010): 931-76.
[5] Bartholomew, Mark. "Advertising and Social Identity." Buffalo Law Review 58 (2010): 938
[6] Postman, Neil. Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. New York: Vintage Books, 1993. 21.
[7] Gergen, Kenneth J. The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2000. 6.
[8] Gergen, Kenneth J. The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2000. 16.
[9] Adler, Ronald B., and Russell F. Proctor. 14th ed. Australia: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2014. 45.
[10] Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint :, 2009. 162.
[11] Postman, Neil. Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. New York: Vintage Books, 1993. 170
[12] McChesney, Robert Waterman. "Does Capitalism Equal Democracy: Advertising." In Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism Is Turning the Internet against Democracy, 41-46. New York, New York: New Press, 2013.
[13] Weinberger, David. Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder. New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2007. 118
[14] McChesney, Robert Waterman. "Does Capitalism Equal Democracy: Advertising." In Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism Is Turning the Internet against Democracy, 41-46. New York, New York: New Press, 2013. 157.
[15] Weinberger, David. Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder. New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2007. 163.
[16] Sethi, Nikhil. "The Future of Advertising Hinges on Understanding Identity." AdWeek. December 9, 2013.
[17] Postman, Neil. Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. New York: Vintage Books, 1993.71
[18] Gergen, Kenneth J. The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2000. 119.
[19] Weinberger, David. Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder. New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2007.
[20] McChesney, Robert Waterman. "Does Capitalism Equal Democracy: Advertising." In Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism Is Turning the Internet against Democracy, 41-46. New York, New York: New Press, 2013. 157.
[21] Weinberger, David. Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room. New York: Basic Books, 2011.
[22] Gergen, Kenneth J. The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2000. 16,
[23] Hong, Ying-yi, and Desiree YeeLing Phua. "In Search of Culture’s Role in Influencing Individual Social Behaviour." Asian Journal of Social Psychology 16 (2013): 26-29.
[24] Gergen, Kenneth J. The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2000. 138.
[25] Postman, Neil. Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. New York: Vintage Books, 1993. 48, 60.
[26] Gergen, Kenneth J. The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2000. Xix, 76.
[27] Nach, Hamid, and Albert Lejeune. "Coping with Information Technology Challenges to Identity: A Theoretical Framework." Computers in Human Behavior, 200, 618. *citation of Burke, 2000
[28] Gergen, Kenneth J. The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2000. 41, xi, 53.
[29] McChesney, Robert Waterman. "Does Capitalism Equal Democracy: Advertising." In Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism Is Turning the Internet against Democracy, 41-46. New York, New York: New Press, 2013.
[30] Gergen, Kenneth J. The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2000. 170, 155-156.
[31] Gergen, Kenneth J. The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2000. 56.
[32] Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint. 2009. 221.
[33] Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint :, 2009. 227.
[34] Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint. 2009. 268, 221.
[35] Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint. 2009. 221. 196.
[36] Gergen, Kenneth J. The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2000.4, 69
[37] Reilly, Terry Edward, and Mike Tennant. The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture. Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint. 2009. 242, 268.
[38] Bartholomew, Mark. "Advertising and Social Identity." Buffalo Law Review 58 (2010): 931-76.
[39] Gergen, Kenneth J. The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2000. 80.
[40] Gergen, Kenneth J. The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2000. 7, 49.
[41] Gergen, Kenneth J. The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2000. 4, 138.
[42] Gergen, Kenneth J. The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2000. 41.
[43] Bartholomew, Mark. "Advertising and Social Identity." Buffalo Law Review 58 (2010): 931-76.
[44] Weinberger, David. Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder. New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2007. 11,40
[45] Gergen, Kenneth J. The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2000. 17.
[46] Gergen, Kenneth J. The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2000. 7.
[47] Weinberger, David. Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room. New York: Basic Books, 2011. 173-174
[48] Nach, Hamid, and Albert Lejeune. "Coping with Information Technology Challenges to Identity: A Theoretical Framework." Computers in Human Behavior, 200, 618-29.
[49] Adler, Ronald B., and Russell F. Proctor. "Communication and Identity: Creating and Presenting Self." In Looking Out/looking in, 51-58. 14th ed. Australia: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2014.
[50] Gergen, Kenneth J. The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2000. 49.
[51] Nach, Hamid, and Albert Lejeune. "Coping with Information Technology Challenges to Identity: A Theoretical Framework." Computers in Human Behavior, 200, 618.
[52] Gonzales, Amy, and Jeffrey Hancock. "Identity Shift In Computer-Mediated Environments."Media Psychology 11, no. 2 (2014): 167-85.
[53] Weinberger, David. Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder. New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2007. 124.

Bibliography

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Hong, Ying-yi, and Desiree YeeLing Phua. "In Search of Culture’s Role in Influencing Individual Social Behaviour." Asian Journal of Social Psychology 16 (2013): 26-29.

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