Making media (even where it may not belong)

16Sep11

I was sitting in class yesterday, drinking a bottle of Sprite during my lecture, when I  noticed bright yellow letters popping off the thin blue bar atop the label: “text cap code to 777483 – EVERY CAPS GETS AN INSTANT REWARD!”

Now, as far as I am aware, Sprite has yet to produce some sort of terrible product placement video game a la’ Quaker Oats (Chuck Wagon, anyone?) so I was initially confused as to what they were doing try to engage with me through my cell phone – I just wanted a lemon-lime drink, Sprite! But as I thought about it more, it made me realize that media is no longer relegated to the realm of media – communications, telecommunications, and the like. This is yet another example of advertisers using interactivity with their consumer base. In this case, Sprite simply offered the incentive of a prize to entice consumers into actually engaging with this media component of their project. (Don’t get too excited – it was a code to download an MP3.) What was interesting, however, is that I immediately received additional text messages, encouraging me to visit their website and text them my email address to be entered into a daily drawing for concert tickets. Suddenly, Sprite is branding itself to me as more than just a carbonated beverage or subsidiary of Coca-Cola. It’s youthful, it’s fun, it’s down with rock concerts and cell phone and text messaging – if, that is, I choose to engage it in such a way.

This to me seemed like an interesting example of people “claim[ing] their agency in customizing, modifying, and remixing existing [media] content.” (Deuze, 95.) I think that the reason this struck me in particular is that before this I kept engaging the course materials from the perspective of someone primarily introduced in film and television media. However, advertising is media just as much as they are, and Sprite seems to be making the most of that. Their brightly colored flashy bottle-label is in itself a form of media – calling to you from the shelf or the vending machine “Look how light and refreshing I am!” By using that label to advertise opportunities to further engage with the company through more technological media, i.e., your cell phone, Sprite is taking advantage of the ever-technologized consumer’s desire to engage with media and create their own experiences – even if it is a an act as simple as purchasing a pop.

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