How a 19-year-old Student and a 65-year-old Toothpick Brand are Shaping the Uncertain Terms of Participation

03Sep12

In the 21st Century we are witnessing a profound transition within the media industry. Contemporary media operates “through a complex web of mostly temporary connections, links, joint ventures and thus diffuse power relationships between media companies and public stakeholders.” Operating in this complexity, “everything seems up for grabs with power, wealth, knowledge, and influence redispersed with each shift in the media landscape.” (Jenkins/Deuze, 2008)

 In what is referred to as convergence, “[c]onsumers are now demanding the right to participate and this becomes another destabilizing force that threatens consolidation, standardization, and rationalization.” (Jenkins/Deuze, 2008) Everyone involved – industry and audience alike – believes our culture will become more participatory but there is uncertainty about the terms of our participation.” (Jenkins/Deuze, 2008) With the increased participation of consumers, and the constant struggle for power, the nature of employment of media workers because more uncertain.  

This uncertain participation for those working in the media industry is highlighted in the recent development of a Facebook page, Gina Indelicada, which was created a little over two weeks ago by a 19-year-old student based in Sao Paulo, and which already reached over 1.5 million likes. The page is based after a 1970’s fictional character, Gina, who was used to market a Brazilian brand of toothpicks called Rela Gina. The page drew so much unexpected attention to the company and product that Alfredo Rela Neto, the CEO of the toothpick company, is already looking into ways to work with the 19-year-old. The young student has received many job offers in the past weeks, and just signed with a new ad agency to coordinate the online campaign of a famous brand of deodorants.

While public participation is shaping the way we view and understand media and the arts, it is clear that there are repercussions for those working in the industry. As consumer participation increases, and 19-year-old students take powerful positions away from older/long-time trained professionals, it will be impossible to continue working in the field without redefining the level and substance of the participation of the laborer.

Original article available at http://www.forbes.com/sites/andersonantunes/2012/08/27/how-a-65-year-old-toothpick-brand-became-a-surprising-and-profitable-facebook-marketing-stunt/

Nikki Tuttle

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