In the Name of Good Fun
According to Stuart Hall, the term “popular” has many definitions. The “most common-sense meaning,” he states, includes the things people most commonly buy, read, consume or enjoy. Wrote Hall of this definition: “It is quite rightly associated with the manipulation and debasement of the culture of the people.”
Interestingly, Hall exerts the opinion that consumption of popular cultural products results in manipulation to the point where consumers do not even recognize that they are being given thoughts to think, opinions to harbor, and ideas so unoriginal that they meld into a giant singular school of thought. They become what Hall calls “cultural dopes.”
As a public relations practitioner, I get the distinct feeling that Hall would be unsupportive of the concept of message strategy, integrated communications plans, and target marketing. These tools of the trade essentially capitalize on the concept of popular culture and rely on the consumption of media by the masses to effectively convey messages, push products, or sell ideas.
For example, the Georgefest first Friday nightlife event in St. George, Utah, utilizes and integrated marketing strategy designed to build its event brand through repetition of key messages. Each month, marketing tactics include press releases, radio promotions, and advertisements in newspapers and magazines. Monthly messages offer details about performers and vendors, and include key messages that reinforce an overall brand strategy. Stationary marketing pieces that offer the same key messages can be found on event billboards, digital signs, television appearances, bus transit ads, posters, and event brochures.
Consider driving down St. George Boulevard and hearing this radio ad (click here). Then walking into Even Stevens to see a poster promoting the same event. When you pick up a copy of the Independent, you turn to the live music section and see an article about live bands performing at the St. Patty’s Day version of Georgefest.
Each of these impressions reminds you of the good times you have had attending Georgefest on first Friday nights. In fact, you really enjoyed the Country George event in September. You are glad to remember the event is just a few days away and decide to text a friend to see if he’d like to attend with you.
Key messages used by Georgefest marketers to reinforce the brand throughout all efforts include three key messages. These messages are relayed either formally or informally:
· Georgefest is nightlife you can get excited about
· Follow the searchlight to Historic Downtown St. George
· This kind of fun is good for you
Where Hall may critically claim that Georgefest event marketers are capitalizing on the concept that the southern Utah community blindly consumes information, event strategists are banking on it. In fact, the reason for repeating key messages in all of its marketing messages is to offer repetition and reinforcement in effort to help community members remember the event, its brand, location, and time of the month.
Do marketers take advantage of the masses when planning repetition of messages and mediums to deliver information.
Would you rather argue that communicators have figured it out? Perhaps pop culture is going to happen no matter what, and marketers are justified in managing messages to accomplish their tasks. In this case, Georgefest is a fun event and many community members enjoy attending.