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Communication Theory and Millennial Popular Culture

Essays and Applications

Edited By Kathleen Glenister Roberts

Theories help to troubleshoot gaps in our understanding, and to make sense of a world that is constantly changing. What this book tries to do, in part, is blur the lines between the differences between today’s college students – the millennial generation – and their professors, many of whom hail from the Boom Generation and Generation X.
In the following chapters, contributors build upon what both parties already know. Writing in a highly accessible yet compelling style, contributors explain communication theories by applying them to «artifacts» of popular culture. These «artifacts» include Lady Gaga, Pixar films, The Hunger Games, hip hop, Breaking Bad, and zombies, among others. Using this book, students will become familiar with key theories in communication while developing creative and critical thinking. By experiencing familiar popular culture artifacts through the lens of critical and interpretive theories, a new generation of communication professionals and scholars will hone their skills of observation and interpretation – pointing not just toward better communication production, but better social understanding.
Professors will especially enjoy the opportunities for discussion this book provides, both through the essays and the «dialogue boxes» where college students provide responses to authors’ ideas.
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14. Hashtag Television Advertising—The Multistep Flow of Millennial TV Usage, Commercial Viewing, and Social Media Interaction

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CHAPTER 14

Hashtag Television Advertising—The Multistep Flow of Millennial TV Usage, Commercial Viewing, and Social Media Interaction

Andrew Sharma & Chrys Egan

In the media world, most of you millennials are a much sought-after commodity. You are in the coveted 18-to-34-year-old demographic, and television aggressively courts you (The Nielsen Company, 2014a). It’s likely you watch TV live in the traditional manner like other viewers; but you also are distinct as a generation. First of all, you prefer to watch TV content on almost any other device than a television. Secondly, while watching the TV program, half of you multitask on several screens, while conversing with your friends on social media (Cheredar, 2014; Lella & Lipsman, 2014), a practice that is only predicted to increase (Marketing Charts, 2014).

Advertising has responded to your habits with a new form that originates on television, but continues on social media platforms. You may have seen it: it’s a marketing technique that uses embedded “hashtags.” These are key words leading to an online link, displayed on TV advertisements for the shows and advertised products, to generate discussion on social media (also called “chatter”). These multistep conversations reflect your values and attitudes, layered within the programs and commercials you are watching. Conversations on social media validate or challenge these values. This communication process, where you integrate media content, personal conversations, and social influence, is known as Multistep Flow. Put simply, in Multistep Flow, media messages overflow, from...

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