The Convergence Crisis

An Impending Paradigm Shift in Advertising

by Joanna L. Jenkins (Author)
©2015 Textbook VIII, 198 Pages


The Convergence Crisis tells the story of an impending paradigm shift in advertising. Beginning in the early 1840s with the birth of the first advertising agency and momentum spurred by industrial systems, the book provides a historical overview of significant events and socio-cultural economic factors that have occurred to explain how and why a [convergence] crisis has erupted in contemporary American advertising. Significant blurring of once-distinct boundaries and redistribution caused by convergence has led to new methods of communication being used in advertising and among audiences. The book intends to bring awareness, clarity, and understanding to the opportunities presented through convergence via its rich historical narrative and theoretical framework.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • The Convergence Crisis: Introduction
  • Triadic Convergence
  • Advertising
  • Part I: The Road to Normalcy: The Development of American Advertising, 1840s–Present
  • Chapter 1: Early Beginnings
  • Early Beginnings
  • Visionaries
  • Factions
  • Tumultuous Environment
  • Chapter 2: Dramatic Differences
  • A Turning Point
  • A Unifying Paradigm
  • Interdisciplinary Collaboration
  • Strategic Use of Modernity
  • Chapter 3: Growth & Expansion
  • Cultural Fusion
  • Technology & Turmoil
  • War & Peace
  • Colossal Expansion
  • Shifts & Upheavals
  • Hills & Valleys
  • Chapter 4: Drift & Decline
  • Influence & Obligations
  • Creative Oasis
  • Groundbreaking Precedent
  • Cultural Currency
  • Chapter 5: Paradox & Pitfalls
  • Democratized Information
  • Triadic Convergence & Radical Change
  • Associations & Accountability
  • Part II: Triadic Convergence, Insights, and Implications
  • Chapter 6: Overlapping Phenomena
  • Triadic Convergence
  • Advertising
  • Overlapping Phenomena
  • Insights
  • Chapter 7: Triadic Convergence & The New Media Ecosystem
  • Themes Associated with Triadic Convergence
  • Social Media
  • Twitter
  • Rapid Progression of Technology
  • Participatory Culture
  • Baby Boomers
  • Millennials
  • Chapter 8: Moving Forward
  • Advertising in Crisis
  • Paradigm Shift
  • Characteristics of Disintegration
  • History
  • Triadic Convergence: Support & Criticism
  • Moving Forward
  • Appendices
  • Appendix A: Development of American Advertising 1840s–Present
  • Appendix B: Triadic Convergence
  • Appendix C: Institutional Advertising Model
  • Appendix D: Impact of Triadic Convergence on Advertising
  • Appendix E: Power Disruption Model
  • Appendix F: Internal Disruption Model
  • Appendix G: External Role Disruption Model
  • References
  • Index

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In acknowledgement to the source from which all is possible, thank you.

This endeavor has been realized with the support of many. My list of names and specifics is without end. Thank you all!

In recognition of the gracious support of colleagues and mentors: Dr. Barbara Hines, Dr. Tony McEachern, Dr. Clint Wilson II, Mark Bartley, Dr. Marcia Y. Cantarella, Dr. Rochelle Ford, Dr. Emory Tolbert, and Dr. Gwendolyn Bethea.

In recognition of the sustaining prescience and encouragement of family and friends: Leonard J. Jenkins Sr., Sharon Jenkins, Jesse L. Jenkins, Debra Jenkins-Kearney, Abrielle M. Kearney, Zurie S. Kearney, Ted Kearney, Leonard “Buck” Jenkins Jr., Lydia Francis-Jenkins, Nailah Jenkins, Elijah Jenkins, George Jenkins, Joseph Jenkins Sr., Rebe Jenkins, the Jenkins family, Richard Carter Sr., Richard Carter Jr., Carol Blalock, Regina Smith, the Smith-Carter family, Theodore Wing III, Joi Jackson, Tyear Middleton, Deana Diggs, Christina Johnston-Brown, Alisha Cowen-Vieira, Maya Oliver, Richelle Johnson, Dr. Crystal Adkisson, Dr. Bradford D. Wilson, and Dr. Adria Goldman.

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Recent years of advertising have been an accelerated path of calamity. Yes, there has been success. Yes, there has been progress, but, overall, advertising is not winning. There have been major—no, excuse me—epic fails! I’m sorry, is that still cool? That’s still cool, right … that’s not passé. That’s not cliché. It’s not like I said “winning”; that’s old. But if I said “winning” in the right context it would be OK … right? There are periods where everything just seems to run together in a contradictory mess. But there is hope. There is social media—the great fixer. Social media will not only rectify all advertising woes but it will also bring the world together in a very sincere Kumbaya moment. And that’s it. Problem solved. But, just when you think you have it together—boom. Something else happens, such as Instagram, “the gram,” Pinterest, Vine, Buzz Feed, or the next best thing ever. Don’t worry, this is life. This is advertising. Everything is under control. This is how the pendulum swings. Things happen and everything will get back to normal soon. But no, something major has happened. Something has drastically altered reality. There has been a huge shift. There are now multiple voices in this conversation and no one is quite sure who is in control or even if control is still an option. One advertising professional stated, “I walk around in fear and loathing, dazed and confused. I feel like I’m standing here and there are a thousand baseballs dropping from the sky and I don’t know ← 1 | 2 → which ones to catch” (Sacks, 2010). If this could be you; if you can relate to this at all; if you are involved in mass communications. If you are a member of the advertising community—an advertising professional, an advertiser, a practitioner, researcher, educator, or student, and you sometimes find yourself unable to understand what is going on, welcome to the convergence crisis.

The convergence crisis is a paradoxical juncture that represents an opportunity to redefine one of the world’s most powerful institutions. What seems to be the end of advertising could actually be its new beginning. Although the convergence crisis has been accompanied by seemingly unmatched turmoil, it offers avenues for empowerment and the potential for extraordinary achievement.

During this period advertising has been filled with confusion, contradiction, and chaos. Although there has been significant progress, there have also been setbacks and false starts. In the 1980s advertising began to drift toward decline. Advertising expenditures peaked in 1984 and have trended downward ever since (Rust & Oliver, 1994). Recent decades have revealed a traversed landscape in which the old and new comingle in intricate and nonconventional ways. In the new media ecosystem, digital technology has revolutionized communication, earned media has usurped paid media, and consumers dictate brand conversation. Although digital advertising is lucrative, it is not growing nearly fast enough to keep pace with declines in legacy ad formats, such as print and television (Holcomb & Mitchell, 2014).

Normative structures, formidable systems, and established relationships have been disrupted, leading to economic turmoil. Massive layoffs, restructuring, and monopolies have characterized the industry. Global conglomerates, including the Interpublic Group, the WPP Group, the Omnicom Group, and Publicis Group, have acquired formidable advertising agencies (Inukonda & Pereira, 2010), while other independent agencies and creative boutiques have collapsed under pressure.

Transformative patterns in demographics, production, and consumption have also created pressure for advertising. Target audiences have become savvy, migratory communities with increased demands and expectations. Advertising has struggled to determine effective methods to engage modern consumers. Many of these methods have increased confusion as consumers can no longer easily decipher advertising messaging amid media clutter, covert content, and unfamiliar formats.

Simply put, advertising is in crisis and there is no conclusive delineation for its extent. Moreover, deteriorating conditions are expected to worsen due to advertising’s inability to effectively measure, monetize, and create revenue. ← 2 | 3 →

The primary intention of this book is to demystify elements surrounding the convergence crisis and to increase awareness regarding the opportunities it presents. At its core, it answers two main questions: How did we get here? and What do we do now? A discussion of how a state of crisis erupted in contemporary American advertising and suggestions on how to navigate in this complex new environment are offered.

A fresh perspective presented. It poses a new way to engage with advertising and its development that goes beyond biographic and anecdotal information. The underlying intention of this book is to advance scholarship and to assist in the restoration of pragmatic activity within the advertising community. Readers will discover points of intersection for increased collaboration among research, practical application, and academia such as

 exploring patterns of conflict and resolution

 learning how advertising traditionally responds to new technology, cultural shifts, and economic recession

 uncovering dominant power groups

 sanctioning knowledge proprietors

 establishing relationships within advertising.

This information is particularly useful when projecting the future of advertising.

In support of its framework, The Convergence Crisis is organized into two parts. Each part can be read consecutively or independently. Part 1 (How did we get here?), “The Road to Normalcy: The Development of American Advertising, 1840s–Present,” explains how a state of crisis erupted in contemporary American advertising. A historical chronology traces the development of the discipline of advertising, its collision with convergence, and its path to crisis. Due to advertising’s broad influence, part 1 includes interconnected elements of American business, popular culture, burgeoning technology, and the ever-changing American public.

Part 2 (What do we do now?), “Triadic Convergence, Insights, & Implications,” discusses major themes surrounding the impact of convergence on advertising. Ways to harness convergence and navigate within a complex media environment are shared. Additionally, part 2 offers insights and practical tools for empowerment.

To aid this discussion, specific conceptualizations of convergence and advertising have been offered for clarity. Both convergence and advertising are complex phenomena. Over the years, they have been subjected to extensive usage, major shifts, and broad assertions. Although each will be explored in depth, it is important that underlying conceptualizations are well established. ← 3 | 4 →


VIII, 198
ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2014 (January)
American advertising Communication Audience
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 198 pp.

Biographical notes

Joanna L. Jenkins (Author)

Joanna L. Jenkins (PhD, Howard University) is Assistant Professor of Strategic Communication and Advertising at Howard University. She previously taught at American University and Bowie State University. She worked in advertising and as a creative consultant before entering academia.


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208 pages