10 votes

What's the deal with meta advertising?

I don't watch T.V very often, but do - when I'm up (which is infrequent given I'm outside the U.S) - watch the NBA. Recently I've had a little time so have watched a few games live. Doing so, I was quite taken aback at how commonplace humour and meta advertising are nowadays. Is this just a U.S thing?

Is there any research out there on when and why advertisers started doing this? Seems like every other ad shoots for either humour or "we know you know this is an ad, you're clearly smart enough to realise that, so smart in fact you might want to buy into our brand". Whatever the case, as ever, grateful for resources/discussion from those more in the know than I.

EDIT: A good example that is equal parts humour/meta is LeBron James' Super Bowl Sprite Ad.

7 comments

  1. [3]
    determinism
    Link
    I don't think this is a recent phenomenon. Advertisements will tend to reflect the culture of the target audience. There are a few topics that come to mind but it's too late for me to write a long...

    I don't think this is a recent phenomenon. Advertisements will tend to reflect the culture of the target audience.

    There are a few topics that come to mind but it's too late for me to write a long post that ties them all together so I'll just share the links.

    There's a video essay that I remember listening to a few years ago that was an inspection of David Foster Wallace's criticisms of irony and meta-humor as dominant themes in popular culture and mass media.

    https://youtu.be/2doZROwdte4

    Sort of a digression from "meta-humor" specifically, this was a video essay addressing the more recent trend of bizarre twitter advertising.
    https://youtu.be/Z6bLq4466LM

    This is a very loosely related discussion of Gramsci that I think contextualize these phenomena in advertisement.
    https://youtu.be/jpn_WvkR-0E

    There are probably better discussions of specifically Gramsci and advertisement but this is the one that I thought of.

    9 votes
    1. milkbones_4_bigelow
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I've seen the DFW video before but not for many moons, thanks for the reminder. I enjoyed watching it a second time. It's probably not very cool to champion modernism but there is something so...

      I've seen the DFW video before but not for many moons, thanks for the reminder. I enjoyed watching it a second time. It's probably not very cool to champion modernism but there is something so disheartening about the post-modern mire. It's hard - and likely spurred on by romanticism - to not harken back to the past.

      It's not that relativism is necessarily a bad thing but if it's all that's offered at the epistemological grocer we may find ourselves drowning in a sea of apathy/cynicism before long, perhaps we're already there? "Godot, clean up on aisle 5!"

      3 votes
  2. [4]
    entangledamplitude
    (edited )
    Link
    Here’s my conjecture: I think the extent of TV advertising (substantial fraction of air time at 25-30%) and how long it’s been going on for (decades) have inured people to advertisements and also...

    Here’s my conjecture: I think the extent of TV advertising (substantial fraction of air time at 25-30%) and how long it’s been going on for (decades) have inured people to advertisements and also made them a touch cynical. In such a situation, advertisements which take themselves less seriously (maybe an indicator of post-modern nihilism) appear more self-aware/intelligent, and less leery.

    Of course, there’s also the novelty factor (initially), which will then becomes a fad, and then a cliche — over a lifecycle of decades.

    4 votes
    1. [3]
      milkbones_4_bigelow
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I have the feeling something wholly more insidious is going on. Humour is now being used by corporations to anthropomorphise themselves. To appear human-like, similar to someone you may know and...

      I have the feeling something wholly more insidious is going on. Humour is now being used by corporations to anthropomorphise themselves. To appear human-like, similar to someone you may know and perhaps even trust.

      It's also difficult to criticise any entity that beats you to the punch. This closes the door or at least leaves it ajar on real criticism. There's an awful lot going on here though so this is obviously conjecture on my part. I'm not even sure if there has been a downturn in corporate criticism or if people are generally becoming more apathetic. It's hard to tell, at least I wouldn't know where to source such information.

      6 votes
      1. joplin
        Link Parent
        I can't speak about others, but for me, I've just been relentlessly cutting advertising out of my life. I watch most shows commercial free using one of the many streaming services. When I do watch...

        I can't speak about others, but for me, I've just been relentlessly cutting advertising out of my life. I watch most shows commercial free using one of the many streaming services. When I do watch something over-the-air (which is really really rare these days - I really should cut the cord once and for all), I start recording it, then wait until it's about 30% over and fast-forward through any commercials.

        I don't care how humorous or post-modern or self-deprecating or self-aware they are. I have no more room in my life for any sort of advertising. I suspect there are a lot of other people out there who feel the same and react similarly (if not necessarily to the same degree). I think this leaves advertisers trying anything they can to get noticed. And like all advertising tactics, if they do hit on something, it will be effective for a very short period of time, then every other advertiser will catch on, do the same thing, and the thing that was new and interesting will, as GP said, become cliché and irritating. I don't think it will take decades, though. I think it will take weeks. But then I don't think like most people, so I'm probably overestimating other people's annoyance at ads.

        2 votes
      2. Akir
        Link Parent
        There's a crappy Russian movie that came out a few years ago called Branded, where an ad executive begins seeing physical manifestations of corporate branding. At the time I thought that it was...

        There's a crappy Russian movie that came out a few years ago called Branded, where an ad executive begins seeing physical manifestations of corporate branding. At the time I thought that it was way too blunt in it's messaging. Now I'm freaked out about how much we are moving to make it into a reality.

        Remember that story about the Popeye's chicken sandwich selling out after a stupid twitter war? The most incredible thing to me is that people actually follow corporate twitter feeds. Brand loyalty is terrifying.

        2 votes