Differing Outlook of Contemporary Advertising
Table Of Contents
- Title Page
- Copyright Page
- About the author
- About the book
- Citability of the eBook
- List of Contributors
- Articulating Diversity, Decoding Polarization: Online Responses to Coca Cola’s Memleket Advertisement
- University Students’ Motivations for Watching Social Media Advertisements: A Study in the Context of Uses and Gratifications Theory
- Public Response to “Coup Attempt” through Media: An Analysis of the July 15 Advertisements in Hürriyet Newspaper
- The Transformation of the Perception of Hegemonic Masculinity in Cinema through Television Advertisements
- The Use of Sexuality in Advertisements of New Media in the Context of Reversing Social Norms
- Sponsored Ads in Instagram as a Marketplace and the Concept of Social Affiliation
- A General Overview on Turkish Comedy Movies in the Context of Advertising Discourses
- Philanthropic Advertising: Creative Ways to Raise Awareness of Humanitarian Issues
- Ruling Consumers’ Subconscious through Subliminal Symbols in Advertisements
- Analyzing Political Advertising in the Context of New Media Literacy
- The Commercial Film for the 15th Istanbul Biennial as an Example for an Interactive Art: #Biennialinthecity
- Commodity Fetishism and Advertising
- List of Figures
- List of Tables
Assoc. Prof. Dr., Marmara University
Assist. Prof. Dr., Gümüşhane University
Zekiye Tamer Gencer
Assoc. Prof. Dr., Sivas Cumhuriyet University
Dilara Nergishan Koçer
Assist. Prof. Dr., Sivas Cumhuriyet University
Assist. Prof. Dr., Sivas Cumhuriyet University
Dr., Sivas Cumhuriyet University
Assist. Prof. Dr., Yozgat Bozok University
Dr., Istanbul University
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Marmara University
Dr., Van Yüzüncü Yıl University
Dr., Marmara University
Gül Dilek Türk
Dr., Adnan Menderes University
Dr., Mus Alparslan University
Lecturer Dr., Kahramanmaraş Sütçü İmam University
Assist. Prof. Dr., Kahramanmaraş Sütçü İmam University
Res. Assistant., Süleyman Demirel University
Res. Assistant., Süleyman Demirel University
“We are meeting at the same table in this Ramadan with all our differences and common points, ‘#enjoy’ ”1, the striking slogan by Coca Cola was released with a new advertisement, Memleket Apartmanı (The Hometown Apartment) just before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The advertisement portrayed the representations of individuals belonging to different social classes in Turkey. Memleket Apartmanı, which is a metaphor employed by the brand to point at the nation as a whole, has been depicted as a setting which brings together a variety of individuals, including families of conservative/religious lifestyles to secular ones. All these families and individuals were enjoying the fasting month by preparing a shared dinner for themselves, each bringing in a meal to share on the same table. Not surprisingly, the only product identified as a central agent in this union has been the Coca Cola itself, maintaining a crucial position in the table’s orientation, close to everybody attending this unique cultural experience. Challenging the cultural boundaries that distance different lifestyles in Turkey’s contemporary cultural setting, most especially the religious/conservative-oriented lifestyles and secular ones, Coca Cola manifested itself as a perfect commodity that erodes those boundaries and establish the unity of the people altogether.
How does Coca Cola manage to establish itself such a unifying position? And how? By which tools provided by the discursive strategies of advertising? What are the mechanisms by which this brand manages to utilize its central slogan, “enjoy!”, as a solution to overcome the country’s political problems that are reflected on the social space in the form of polarization? ←11 | 12→How does Coca Cola’s enjoyment erode the polarization of social classes? Departing from all these questions, in this article, firstly, I aim to provide a conceptual background which would shed light on the ways in which Coca Cola establishes an articulation of a discourse on diversity, based on post-Marxist theory of articulation. I argue that by means of this articulation, Coca Cola manages to construct a discourse which brings together two unexpected practices, enjoyment and diversity, by overcoming the polarization of society. Secondly, by a critical analysis conducted on the advertising narrative and a content analysis applied on online audience responses to the campaign, I aim to uncover the ways in which the notion of diversity is articulated and reproduced by the advertisement, as well as how it is received, negotiated, challenged or confirmed by the varying responses of audiences. Eventually, by a discussion of articulation based on Turkish context, I aim to provide an analysis of the unique dynamics of discursive establishments in Turkish advertising culture, as well as a theoretical contribution on the subject of articulation in the light of these complex mechanisms at work in this culture.
1 Popular Culture and Articulation
The concept of articulation, sometimes referred to a theory of articulation (Slack, 1996), is a very important term in post-Marxist cultural studies (Clarke, 2015, p. 276; Storey, 2015, p. 89). Cultural theorist Stuart Hall (1980a, 1985) and post-Marxist thinkers Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe (2001) frequently employed the concept of articulation in their writings to refer to the complexities in culture and its critical elaboration. Marking a departure from classical Marxist thought, articulation is closely related to the ways in which popular culture is perceived and conceptualized by taking into account the heterogeneities in the cultural field. Popular culture has various definitions from different standpoints. The term may refer to a culture that is widely favoured by many people – a low culture that does not meet the standards of a high culture, a mass-produced commercial culture or an authentic culture that is not imposed from above but originates from the people (Storey, 2015, pp. 5–9). Existing definitions draw upon particular hierarchical relations within culture as the foundational basis of popular culture. Another definition of popular culture that ←12 | 13→overcomes hierarchies originates from Italian Marxist thinker, Antonio Gramsci’s (1971) concept of hegemony. Rather than considering culture as a homogeneous entity owned either by dominating or subordinate classes, Gramsci observes culture as a field where the dominating class aims to win the consent of the subordinate classes. The dominating class maintains a cultural hegemony over the subordinate classes by reproducing their consent rather than merely oppressing them. Therefore, Gramscian view approaches popular culture as a site where the processes of consent and hegemony takes place, rather than taking it as a field owned by dominating classes or people’s authentic culture. There is no fixed meaning or ideology in popular culture as it includes hegemonic strategies and resistances to these strategies at the same time. Eventually, popular culture is a field of exchange and negotiation between different classes, a process of meaning production characterized by both resistance and incorporation (Storey, 2015, p. 9).
Gramscian views on consent and hegemony had profound impact on the direction of classical Marxist thought as well as on cultural studies. Gramsci’s conception of hegemony was considered as a departure from classical Marxism since it employed a critique of Marxist economic determinism (Holub, 2005, p. 4). According to the classical formula in Marxist thought, relations of production constitute the infrastructure of society, which highly influences the superstructure of society such as politics and culture (Wood, 2004, p. 65). In this regard, popular culture can be considered as a field owned by dominating classes that impose the dominant ideology to the masses. However, Gramsci’s views suggest that culture is a critical field for hegemonic struggle and cannot solely be classified as an outcome of economic relations. His ideas further assert that subordinate class, or the subaltern, is not the passive participant of culture as the hegemonic struggle is a process of incorporation and resistance that the subordinate class can be actively involved (Procter, 2004, p. 25). With reference to Gramscian way of conceptualizing culture, Hall (1981) argues that popular culture should not merely be considered as a field dominated by a certain social class to exploit another. Rather, Hall (1981, p. 228) asserts that popular culture is a field of both “containment and resistance” where there is a continuous negotiation of meaning. There may be certain narratives and works of popular culture that can challenge dominant ←13 | 14→ideology in varying degrees, as it is also possible that popular culture can function as an ideological tool for the interests of dominating social classes. Moreover, products of popular culture, such as advertising messages, can be encoded and decoded in different ways (Hall, 1980b). For example, an advertisement can encode and convey the ideology of consumerism by inviting viewer to consume goods. However, according to Hall (1980b), this message does not necessarily have to be decoded by the viewer in its hegemonic meaning. The viewer may accept the message as the dominant ideology encodes or enter into a negotiation with the message and even may take an oppositional stance against it. Hall’s views show that meaning is not fixed in narrative, but it is subject to continuous process of negotiation. In a similar sense, the complexities of meaning production and attribution illustrate the characteristics of popular culture, which is defined as a “contradictory space” where containment and opposition can altogether take place (Procter, 2004, p. 25). Accordingly, post-Marxist cultural studies perspective considers that while material conditions and the relations of production is important, culture plays a crucial role in defining, determining and making sense of materiality, since it has the power to construct realities. Furthermore, since the meaning is not fixed and the texts can be read and comprehended with different meanings, popular culture can be considered as a site of resistance and negotiation (Storey, 2015, p. 91).
In addition to his attempts to conceptualize popular culture from a Gramscian point of view, Hall also refers to Russian linguist and philosopher Valentin Voloshinov’s (1973) concept of “multi-accentuality” to illustrate the complexities behind different ways of conceiving culture. Different from Saussurian linguistics that emphasizes “langue” as the set of universal rules that structure language (Chandler, 2007, p. 9), Voloshinov (1973, p. 21) puts emphasis on “parole” to reveal the ways in which different agents create meaning by spoken language. Voloshinov (1973) suggests that agents in a given social context can speak the same text to refer to different meanings. According to Voloshinov (1973, p. 23), texts do not have fixed meanings; they are rather “accented” by its speakers. For example, a black activist can use the word “nigger” to initiate a point about racism, whereas another speaker can use the same word as an insult (Storey, 2015, p. 89). In a similar way, the word “queer”, ←14 | 15→which was a derogatory expression to insult LGBTI+ individuals, was re-accented by LGBTI+ community and became popular as a manifestation of their sexual identity. Voloshinov’s conception of language points out a semantic struggle where conflicting classes challenge over language to fix the meaning, dominate social reality and turn the texts into “uni-accentual” entities (Brandist, 2015, p. 134). Hall acknowledges that Voloshinov’s theory of multi-accentuality has critical importance in the development of cultural studies as well as its views on culture and ideology (2005, p. 296) and analyses that popular culture is multi-accentual, rather than uni-accentual (Procter, 2004, p. 28).
The multi-accentuality of popular culture is closely related with the concept of articulation. Since the meaning is not fixed, texts and practices in popular culture can be articulated in different ways (Laclau, 2001, p. 113; Grossberg, 2005). Hall (as cited in Grossberg, 2005, p. 141) explains that articulation has a double meaning. On the one hand, the word means “to utter, to speak forth, to be articulate”. On the other hand, it is used to refer to an “articulated lorry (truck) where front (cab) and back (trailer) can, but need not necessarily, be connected to one another.” Thus, Hall suggests that articulation is a linkage that is not essential, absolute or determined. It is rather a connection, which can unite different elements under certain conditions. In this regard, the theory of articulation points at the practices of individuals, including their actions, products and media messages. This perspective suggests that social classes tend to set up specific messages that usually they are not engaged in to create a connection with different social classes. Therefore, in a message conveyed between different social classes, it is possible for one to come across a kind of a message that is not inherent in the sender’s ideological point of view. This view propounds that there is not an original, fixed, unique discourse that is attached to different social classes in a society. Rather, discourse and social actions are continuously changing, transforming and adjusting themselves to new conditions and potentials of communication between social classes; that is to say, discourses are being articulated under different circumstances. Eventually, the ways in which different ideological elements may form unities to refer to specific meanings point out the processes of articulation (Grossberg, 2005, pp. 142–143).←15 | 16→
In this regard, culture is a field of possibilities where “relations of domination and subordination were inscribed, represented, refused and contested through articulatory practices” (Clarke, 2015, p. 280). Besides, Laclau (1993, p. 161) states that dominant classes may prefer to articulate different visions of the world so that they can incorporate the demands of subordinate classes into their agendas and earn their consent. Therefore, articulation is an important tool for social groups to establish hegemony over conflicting groups in a society (Mouffe, 1979). For example, the reggae music of Rastafarian culture reflects the values of this culture to a worldwide audience by becoming a popular genre of the music industry at the same time. Eventually, the anti-capitalist motives of this culture are articulated in capitalism as Rastafarian culture serves to the reproduction of capitalist interests by challenging it with its very foundation at the same time (Storey, 2015, p. 89). Articulation enables subordinate groups to sound their existences, but at the same time, it may turn their visibilities into profit. Hence, popular culture should be understood as a field of articulation where the works of popular culture may articulate seemingly different worldviews, ideologies and approaches. Articulation is an important aspect of the multi-accentuality of popular culture, where dominant and subordinate group interests can be expressed concomitantly.
2 Advertising and Articulation
Advertising can be considered as a popular form of articulation. Advertising is the discourse of a corporate identity that is hierarchically communicated to the public via media channels. As a hierarchical discourse, advertisements carry out the interests of business owners, in the case of capitalist media production; and opinion makers, especially in the case of political advertising. The ideological foundations and effects of advertising have been widely discussed by many authors in the existing literature since the 1970s (Dyer, 1982; Goffman, 1979; Goldman, 1992; Williamson, 1978). Advertisements have been criticized for producing, reproducing and legitimizing social inequalities; discriminating discourses and ideologies based on various cultural factors that include gender, sexuality, sexual orientation, ethnicity, class and other lifestyles. In this regard, advertisements represent a wider discourse which is not limited ←16 | 17→to the promotion of products or services; it is a social and a cultural tool for meaning attribution that is closely related to the cultural production of semantic structures. These semantic structures successfully communicate the cultures of consumption through capitalism by turning everyday objects into “magical signifiers” (Williams, 1999). Through the discourses of advertising, there is a speaking subject, which can be positioned as the social classes producing the advertising messages. Since advertisements are discourses that legitimize and reproduce social and cultural meanings and differentiations among classes, advertising subjectifies the social agents at both ends; namely, the producer of the message and the consumer who are targeted by the advertising effort. As an ideological tool, advertising determines the subject positions of two agents that engage in a one-way communication through advertisements, the privileged subject of the producer of the message who determines the content of the message, and the consumer of the message who receives and is expected to understand and even be convinced by the message. Within this formula, there is a different picture that one can observe with regard to how advertising operates other than the widespread argument that advertising is merely ideological and oppressive; advertising brings together the intentions of the producers and the receivers of the total advertising practice by producing a discourse that is participated and negotiated by both agents. Eventually, advertising serves as a tool of articulation which involves the making of different discursive agents engaged to one another through this medium.
Perhaps the articulative power of advertising has been widely discussed in feminist interrogation of advertisements and popular culture since the past decade, though not referring to the concept of articulation itself. Emerged as critical studies on popular culture, the term “post-feminism” has been pointing out the complexities behind popular narratives regarding women’s empowerment, critically negotiating the limits and impossibilities of feminist activism under current conditions where feminist discourses became mainstream (Gill, 2003 & 2008; McRobbie, 2004). Particularly, Gill (2007) contends that post-feminism could be considered as a distinct form of “sensibility”, which includes a complexity of motivations and meanings with regard to women’s empowerment. While this sensibility provides a visibility to women’s problems in a partial sense, it contradictorily hides or normalizes other forms of women’s subordination. ←17 | 18→Nevertheless, considered in terms of articulation theory, post-feminist media and advertising discourses can be considered as articulative strategies by which brands and their upper-class business-owners reach out to women by addressing some of their problems, thus establishing a connection with those classes. While this could be a potential for activism according to the articulated discourse of feminism, it does not mean that this discourse will remain and the cooperation of two different social classes will last as a long lasting, unique interaction.
Turkey’s advertising landscape was also recently occupied by complex discourses with regard to the articulation of different ways of speeches and actions. As a reflection of the global trend in mainstreaming of feminism, which is critically discussed by feminist writings in post-feminist literature, Turkish advertising has also seen various examples of feminist advertising discourses in recent years. Particularly published on 8th of March, International Women’s Day by brands on television and online, many advertisements pointed at women’s problems by offering several ways of solution and telling about their companies’ efforts to challenge gender inequality. Besides, a feminist activism also emerged that paid attention to the close analysis of advertisements and their protest especially by using online mediums, successfully leading to the withdrawal of various sexist advertising campaigns. As an outcome of this endeavour, advertising for the first time played the role of an activism and a cultural criticism, which was a different experience for Turkish viewers. The outcome showed us that advertisements do not have to impose certain narratives with regard to consumption all the time; rather they could be mobilized for a potential social change and critique. This development has also signalled the articulation of a gendered discourse through advertisements; many brands and corporations across sectors articulated gender messages which did not necessarily match with their philosophies but paved the way for a visibility of gendered forms of subordination in Turkish culture. Thus, it is not surprising to see that many of these brands and corporations publish sexist content in their advertising narratives that are broadcasted in the remaining of the year. Therefore, this particular transformation in advertising discourses in Turkey does not mean that sexism in advertising has ended or Turkish advertising industry and society are now clearly able to locate sexism and can develop a critique against it. The increasing of ←18 | 19→gender sensitive discourses is hence a form of articulation that the market takes advantage of to reach out to wider publics by reflecting on an original advertising problematic that would attract the audience attention, namely, some issues about women’s subordination; which on the other hand positively leads to the visibility of this problem in Turkish society.
3 Note on Methodology
This article analyses Coca Cola’s Memleket campaign with a two-layered methodological attempt. After establishing a conceptual background by discussing the notions of popular culture, articulation and advertising discourse particularly in Turkish context, I aim to analyse the ways in which the discourse of diversity is constructed in Coca Cola’s campaign based on the metaphor of memleket. Therefore, this article is interested in two interrelated efforts as an analytical practice; on the one hand, it is interested in how the text is encoded with a specific discourse of diversity. On the other hand, it is significant to observe that the meaning of the text is not finalized once it is encoded and that one needs a further effort to analyse the ways in which the text is decoded and understood by audiences in different ways. In this regard, I follow Stuart Hall’s (1980b) “Encoding/Decoding” model in media research to determine the complex ways by which meaning is constructed. According to Hall, there are three potential readings of the televisual discourse by the audiences: hegemonic, negotiated and oppositional. The presence of different readings points out that the meaning is not fixed and unified; it is rather received and processed by the audiences in varying degrees, ending up with different meaning structures. Likewise, this chapter will argue that Coca Cola’s memleket advertisement articulates different speeches in Turkey’s cultural setting as a media discourse to respond to the polarization debate that is taking place in contemporary public discussions.
After analysing Coca Cola’s articulation strategy by focusing on the ways in which the meaning is decoded, the following section will analyse the audience responses by conducting a content analysis. Content analysis will be applied to the online comments on YouTube that are published as a response to Coca Cola advertisement to point at the ways in which articulated discourse of diversity is agreed, negotiated or rejected by audiences. ←19 | 20→Content analysis helps categorizing the emerging themes and contexts which emerge from the audience commentaries by reducing them to quantitative data in tables. As a complementary discussion, the analysis further analyses the emerging comment categories by referring to specific commentaries to better illustrate the reception of articulated discourses.
In order to observe audience responses, online comments were analysed on Coca Cola’s official YouTube page where the advertisement was uploaded.2 The video was published on 29 April 2019, one week before the Ramadan which took place between 6 May and 3 June 2019. The campaign was a total media effort since it was concurrently broadcast on television. By the 10th of May, the video received 64.054 views, 268 likes and 1000 dislikes. As the month of Ramadan progressed and the campaign gained popularity, by the 7th of June, the video received 1,022,817 views, 340 likes and 1100 dislikes. The public interest in the video diminished drastically after Ramadan; by the 20th of July, the video had 1,026,064 views, 347 likes and 1100 dislikes. Considering that the main attraction period towards the advertisement takes place in the month of Ramadan and Ramadan Holiday that follows after, the analysis of the online responses was limited to the comments published by the users between 29th of April and 7th of June. In this regard, 147 comments, which were filtered as meaningful comments, were analysed according to the ways in which they entail different readings of hegemonic, negotiated and oppositional codes. Following the main codes by which the initial analysis is conducted, a further categorization has been undertaken on the content to reveal further codes that would provide a more specific categorization of the online comments. Accordingly, the comments analysed by content analysis will be put forward and discussed in detail.
3.1 Memleket as a Challenge against Polarization in Turkish Society
Until recently with Coca Cola’s Memleket (The Hometown) campaign, culturally significant messages and critique were mostly limited to gender ←20 | 21→advertisements that prioritised the mainstreaming of feminist discourses in advertisements. Coca Cola’s campaign, which was broadcast in May 2019 just before the Ramadan, the religious ritual for Muslims where fasting takes place throughout the month, articulates the understanding of and the longing for diversity with its unifying discourse. With a very powerful narrative, the advertisement illustrates the togetherness of different lifestyles and social classes under the same roof at the very symbolically established Memleket Apartmanı (The Hometown Apartment). The metaphor of the memleket is important since it does not simply point at a place where one was born, the expression very strongly signifies a feeling of attachment to the place where one was born. The symbolism of the word is inherent in a very famous question in Turkish cultural encounters, “memleket nere?” (Where is your hometown?), which is usually the starting point of a conversation between two strangers. Ordinary Turkish citizens engage in a dialogue, try to know each other, find commonalities, detect points of interaction and progress their relationship based on the initial knowledge of their memleket. There are differences and hierarchies between memlekets; such as, some places have negative reputations for the wrong deeds of their people, whereas some places have positive perceptions in people’s minds. As a crucial question asked in the public space, memleket determines a person’s identity and is constitutive of his/her subject position. In this respect, the word memleket is performative in a post-structuralist sense (butler), which is employed as a discursive tool by individuals to repeatedly reassert their belongings as well as their differences from one another. In Derrida’s term (1976), the différance inherent in the term memleket signals the constant differentiation and the deferral of the meaning, as it is only possible for an individual to define him/herself by referring to another individual with his/her memleket belonging, thus continuously postponing his/her identity by tending to define him/herself with reference to others. All these interactions take place in discourse, to which Coca Cola responds in a very metaphorical manner right before the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.
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- Publication date
- 2019 (November)
- Advertising Advertising discourse Contemporary advertising Advertising in new media Television advertisement
- Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2019. 296 pp., 69 fig. b/w, 24 tables.