"The problem with the inception model [of advertising] is that it fuels a hope that we could be immune to ads, if only we were diligent enough or if we developed the right kind of mental fortitude. If only we had a stronger psychological "immune system," ads wouldn't be able to get in — even by the emotional backchannel."

This discussion of how ads work resonates with me, especially when trying to promote more obscure entertainment.


When I reference Marvel, Star Wars, Studio Ghibli, or heck they're all Disney I can be reasonably confident others will get that reference. They're at the very least aware of those movies through all the bilboards, bus stops, & trailers.

But when I reference something I truly love I see people blanking. I have to explain the reference.

It's more socially valuable to make a pop culture reference, and when I don't like the purveyers of pop culture that saddens me. This is how ads work!


I think the advertising industry may have misunderstood itself in the early years, but the narrative they created about the industry at that time is their brand. Rebranding is expensive and, in this case, it doesn't serve the interests of the industry

But cultural imprinting does seem a better explanation of how advertising works than awareness, persuasion, or association, not just on the merits of the arguments presented, but in relation to adjacent economic mechanisms

Specifically, conspicuous spending as a signal that a cultural product is worth emotional investment and discussion is something that can backfire on the parent brand, which means that the major players in any media normally have predictable publication schedules and formulas, and have a perceived need to capture all the value produced by a property even when fan participation would make the property more valuable

The place of independent productions in this context is that of exploring the creative space. To the extent that the process is labor intensive, success is rare, and unlocking the value created usually means selling independently created media to a major brand, big media brands live on the unpaid and underpaid labor of independent producers

Independent producers, however, do not want to give up autonomy even though they are being economically exploited as a consequence, so the answer to this problem is for media consumers to take control of the means of distribution - building browsers, clients, game engines, distributed media platforms - with stronger economic and social fundamentals (i.e. not based on models of parasitism), and that's happening

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