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Anne M.

Cronin (2004) Regimes of mediation: advertising practitioners as


cultural intermediaries?! Consumption, Markets and Culture! "ol. #! $o. 4!
pp. %4&'%(&.
Abstract
This paper explores the status of advertising practitioners as cultural
intermediaries and uses that analysis to think through the contested relationship
between consumption and production, and culture and economy. Using
examples and illustrations from interview data with advertising practitioners in
the UK, I explore how the circulation of rhetoric in the advertising industry
functions as one form of mediation performed by advertising practitioners. I
argue that practitioners role should not be understood solely in terms of a
mediation between producer and consumer! instead, their role should be
conceived in terms of a negotiation between multiple "regimes of mediation,
including that of the relationship between advertising agencies and their clients.
Agencies perform commercial relationships, bringing them into being and
constantly redefining them. Attending to these multiple modes of mediation
opens up #uestions about the status of advertising, the role of cultural
intermediaries, and the relationship between production and consumption,
economy and culture.
Keywords$ advertising agencies! advertising practitioners! consumption%production!
cultural intermediaries! culture%economy! mediation
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'amously identified as a key part of "the culture industry (Adorno &))&*, advertising
has been sub+ected to many claims about its power to persuade consumers,
disseminate capitalist ideologies and articulate cultural change (e.g. ,oldman &))-!
.eiss, Kline and /hally &))0! 1ernick &))&*.
&
2espite advertisings place at the centre
of debates on culture and commerce, relatively little empirical work has focused on
the practices, views and impact of practitioners within the advertising industry
(although see 3alefyt and 3oeran -004! 3iller &))5! 3ort &))6! 7ixon &))6, -004!
8later &)9)*. :f these studies, many tend to focus on the role of research in
advertising practice, the definition of creative work, and promotional practices of
agencies in competition with other agencies (,rabher -00-! ;ackley -000, -00-!
;irota &))<! Kover and ,oldberg &))<! 3iller &))5*. 'ar less attention has been
directed at advertising practitioners potential role as cultural intermediaries, and the
few existent studies which take this as their focus tend to draw on theoretical rather
than empirical sources (e.g. 'eatherstone &))&*. This lack of analysis is particularly
striking given the widespread claims about the growth in significance of such cultural
intermediaries (e.g. =ourdieu -000! .ash and Urry &))>*. 'or instance, Appadurai
argues that even in the simplest economies a "traffic in things has long been
established but that this traffic has expanded its scope and social significance in
contemporary consumer capitalism$
?i@t is only with the increased social, technical and conceptual differentiation
that what we may call a traffic in criteria concerning things develops. That is,
only in the latter situation does the buying and selling of expertise regarding the
&
I would like to thank the following for reading drafts of earlier versions of this paper and offering
comments$ AnneA3arie 'ortier, 7ick ,ebhardt, Adrian 3ackenBie, and Alan 1arde. 3y thanks also to
the editors of the +ournal and to anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions.
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technical, social, or aesthetic appropriateness of commodities become
widespread.
(&)96, p. <>*
'or Appadurai, the contemporary capitalist moment can be defined (in part* by the
circulation and commercial exchange of expertise in the socially appropriate
purchase, use and display of commodities. In this understanding, groups that lay claim
to skills in this trafficking of value and taste A or expertise in the translation of such
values between producers and consumers A will therefore come to play a more
prominent part in the economic and social realms.
This account is part of a broader trend towards understanding social change by
analysing consumption, exemplified by Cierre =ourdieus analysis of taste,
consumption and the role of cultural intermediaries such as advertising practitioners.
=ourdieu (-000, p. 4&0* argues that "the new logic of the economy distances itself
from "the ascetic ethic of production and accumulation and comes to focus instead on
consumption and pleasure. 1ith this shift, new social standards are established and
new groups gain social and economic prominence.
This economy demands a social world which +udges people by their capacity for
consumption, their "standard of living, their lifeAstyle, as much as by their
capacity for production. It finds ardent spokesmen in the new bourgeoisie of the
vendors of symbolic goods and services, the directors and the executives of
firms in tourism and +ournalism, publishing and the cinema, fashion and
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advertising, decoration and property development. Through their slyly
imperative advice and the example of their consciously "model lifeAstyle, the
new tasteAmakers propose a morality which boils down to the art of consuming,
spending and en+oying.
(=ourdieu -000, pp. 4&0A4&&*
8imilarly, 'eatherstone (&))&, p. 4<, p. <* argues that these new cultural
intermediaries are "specialists in symbolic production and "cultural entrepreneurs and
intermediaries who have an interest in creating postmodern pedagogies to educate
publics. As cultural intermediaries, the role of advertising practitioners is here
defined as the translation or relaying between the purportedly distinct realms of
production and consumption$ in educating the masses in the art of consumption and
the social distinctions of taste, these cultural workers are thought to mediate between
the needs of producers and the desires of consumers. As part of a rising class fraction
+ostling for position with more established groups, they aim to legitimise (and indeed
intellectualise* their own areas of expertise.
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=oth =ourdieu (-000* and 'eatherstone (&))&* frame the increasing importance of
cultural intermediaries in terms of the rise of the new petite bourgeoisie and the
parallel expansion in demand for expert knowledges to assist consumers in
deciphering the increasingly complex cultural terrain. =ourdieus (-000, p. 4&&*
account reveals a rather functionalist tendency whereby practitioners D as cultural
intermediaries D translate and transmit new ways of consuming through their "slyly
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=auman (&)95* make a similar argument, claiming that the traditional role of intellectuals and leaders
such as religious figures ("legislators* has been displaced by the new "interpreters such as advertising
practitioners. These interpreters offer to the public models of living A ways of conducting oneself A
which tend to focus around consumption.
>
imperative advice in order to align consumers practices with the demands of the new
economy. Thus for =ourdieu, practitioners mediate taste and consumption practices in
tune with the needs of the system of production$ advertising practitioners are "needs
merchants who manipulate consumers needs and wants not through the classic hard
sell of oldAstyle marketers, but by importing new subtle techni#ues of domination
("velvet glove methods* from America (=ourdieu -000, p. 46<, p. 4&&*.
Eecent studies of advertising have criticised =ourdieus (-000* and 'eatherstones
(&))&* analyses on a number of counts. 1hilst 'eatherstone (&))&, p. >0* calls
cultural workers such as advertising practitioners "new cultural intermediaries, 7ixon
(-004* and 3c'all (-00-a* argue that such practitioners are neither new, nor can their
contemporary role be considered significantly different from their role in the
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 3oreover, 7ixon (-004* argues that "cultural
intermediary is a very inclusive category and, as such, lacks the critical purchase
necessary to understand the multiform activities of workers such as advertising
practitioners. 2espite these #ualifications, advertising practitioners are generally seen
as a key mediators.
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'or instance, 7ixon (-004, p. 4<* argues that "agencies play an
active role in helping to constitute and articulate the economic relations between
consumers and clients through techni#ues like planning and market research that they
mobilise. =ut less sustained attention has focused on the precise nature of this
commercial mediation and the detail of its practice. Analyses such as those of 7ixon
(&))6, -004* and 3ort (&))6* focus on practitioners (gendered* habitus and the way
in which they operationalise their informal knowledges in their commercial practice.
This is an important focus which attends to the reproduction of certain classed,
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1hilst their numbers may be limited, 7ixon and 2u ,ay (-00-* suggest that cultural intermediaries
may exert a disproportionately large influence on economic and cultural life.
<
racialised and gendered workplace practices and illuminates their impact upon the
character of the products (advertisements themselves*. =ut this focus constitutes only
one element of the complex mix of discursive practices of the industry. It does not
offer a precise analysis of the nature of cultural workers intermediation D or
mediating role D nor the multiple forms of mediation that coAexist within the
promotional imperatives of the agency, the commercial imperatives of their clients,
and the personal motivations of practitioners.
Fontrary to some accounts, I will argue that the role of advertising practitioners as
cultural intermediaries is not restricted to the translation or mediation between
producers and consumers! nor is their role limited to channelling tastes in
consumption or directing cultural change. The overAemphasis on practitioners
mediating role as "taste makers or primary drivers of new cultural trends is
exemplified in the disproportionately intense focus on Freatives in the advertising
literature (e.g. ;irota &))<! 7ixon -004! 8oar -000*.
>
This emphasis does not
ade#uately address the significance of Account 3anagers, Account Clanners or 3edia
=uyers within the industry.
<
The following section goes some way towards redressing
the balance by outlining the multiple mediations involved in the daily practices of
agencies. It draws on interview material with practitioners from key .ondon
advertising agencies and situates their accounts within the context established by
>
7egus (-00-* makes a similar point, arguing against the emphasis on aesthetic forms of mediation in
discussions of cultural intermediaries. ;e calls for a more multiAlayered, subtle approach which
includes the role of other types of practitioners in the culture industries such as accountants in the
music business.
<
Freatives are art directors or copywriters who produce the ideas for an advertising campaign and the
images and the copy (written text*. Account Clanners write briefs for the Freatives outlining the remit
and aims of a campaign! they generate the campaigns longAterm strategy, and coAordinate with
research companies. Account 3anagers deal with overall pro+ect management and finance, and mediate
the agencys everyday contact with the client. 3edia =uyers select and buy media space for the
placement of advertisements.
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other empirical studies of the advertising industry.
6
The following analysis does not
assess the status of ad practitioners as cultural intermediaries through a detailed
ethnographic account of practices within the industry! such accounts are indeed
lacking in the field and their input is urgently needed in order to fully appreciate this
complex arena. Instead, the aim of the paper is rather more modest, offering
illustrative material from interviews with practitioners as a means of opening up
#uestions about the relationship between production and consumption, and exploring
certain presumptions in the existent literature about practitioners status as mediators
between those realms.
F:33GEFIA. 3G2IATI:7
An analysis of the discourses and practices of advertising practitioners and their
agencies reveals what I call multiple "regimes of mediation which interlink, overlap,
and conflict with one another in complex ways. I will suggest that these practitioners
can be considered "cultural intermediaries only when employing an expanded and
nuanced definition of mediation that attends to their heterogeneous commercial
practices. These multiple elements together constitute a constellation or regime of acts
and discourses. In general, the advertising industry is considered an important
commercial nexus which functions as a "point of intersection for the ma+or
institutional forces such as the media, producers of commodities and services, and
consumers (.eiss, Kline and /hally &))0, p. &)&*. In this understanding, advertising
6
This was a smallAscale research pro+ect focusing on ) advertising practitioners in the following
advertising agencies! ,rey 1orldwide, :gilvy and 3ather, Cartners =22;, Eainey Kelly Fampbell
Eoalfe%HIE and one midAsiBed agency which wished to remain anonymous. Gach interview lasted
between & and -.< hours and was conducted in /anuary -00-.
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practitioners and their agencies are figured as specialists in "mediated communication
about selling (ibid., p. &9&*. :f course, all communication is mediated in a broad
sense. =ut .eiss, Kline and /hallys (&))0* analysis casts advertising as a special form
of mediation due to its intermediary status between producers (of commodities and
services* and consumers, and its commercial use of media space as a vehicle for this
marketing communication. =ut the many other facets of the mediating role of both
advertising and its practitioners attract far less attention. 'or instance, several studies
have outlined how advertising and advertising agencies mediate cultural specificity
and difference, and the demands and opportunities of globalising markets and media
within particular national contexts such as /apan and 8ri .anka (Kemper -00&!
3alefyt and 3oeran -004! 3iller &))5! 3oeran &))6*. 3y analysis, however, will
focus on the mundane practices and commercial imperatives of agencies in the UK.
The first point I would like to make concerns the significance of analysing advertising
practitioners themselves.
Typical of textual analyses of advertising, /udith 1illiamsons (?&)59@ -000* classic
account of advertisements consistently brackets the significance of advertising
practitioners impact upon their products. 1hilst practitioners certainly cannot be said
to determine viewers reception of their texts, completely excluding practitioners from
the analysis skews understandings of the significance of advertising practice and its
textual products. This inattention to the process of production and the influence of
practitioners social position and beliefs on this process thus detracts from a full
analysis of advertising as an industry. As an industry, it has its own culture and values
into which new practitioners are duly initiated (7ixon -004! 3ort &))6*. 'or
example, Freatives learn to "act creative, that is, to behave eccentrically, develop
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"artistic temperaments, and "dramatiBe their personae (;irota &))<, p. 445*. This was
certainly evident in my visits to advertising agencies where (male* Freatives played
football in the corridors, wore TAshirts bearing pithy and sometimes challenging
slogans, and cultivated a very casual, fashionable look. ;owever, the informal feel to
agencies belies their fairly rigid gender, race and class structuring and their
heterosexist outlook.
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:ne female 8enior Freative commented that all the advertising
agencies she had worked in had been very conservative in their employment practices,
reproducing a white, heterosexual, male organisation$
I think were really insular J I think were xenophobic, I think were
homophobic. There are twentyAtwo teams in this Freative department and there
are > women. Its a boys clubJ In all my years, I think Ive met 4 black
Freatives.
(8enior Freative &*
8ignificantly, social class is absent from this Freatives catalogue of exclusionary
practices, a fact which exemplifies the takenAforAgranted middle class nature of the
industry (see =ourdieu -000! 'eatherstone &))&! 7ixon -004*. Fonsidering the social
positioning of advertising practitioners is significant for analysing the textual endA
products of the industry as it impacts upon the form and content that the
5
Accurate demographic figures about advertising practitioners are difficult to obtain, and my small
study cannot be taken as representative. In 7ixons (-004, p. 64* study, many of the agencies personnel
had received private education and half of all senior personnel were graduates from elite universities
such as :xford and Fambridge. 7ixon (p. 66* cites Institute for Cractitioners in Advertising figures
which indicate that <0K of those employed in UK agencies belonging to the ICA were below 40 years
of age, and 90K below >0. 7ixon (p. )<* cites an estimate that black and minority ethnic groups
constitute &K of the advertising workforce in the UK, whilst women constitute )K of senior agency
staff (e.g. managing directors* and --K of board directors. 1omen are overArepresented among
secretarial, clerical and +unior administrative staff, with nearly &00K of secretaries being women,
whereas the picture is more even amongst account handlers (<>K women* and media buyers (>>K*
(7ixon -004, p. )6*.
)
advertisements take. 'rom my interviews it became clear that in the process of
producing advertising campaigns, practitioners draw on their own experience as
viewers of advertisements and as consumers of products (also see 8oar -000*. Indeed,
they tend to use selected elements from other practitioners campaigns in producing
their own advertisements. 'or example, my respondents often cited other agencies
beer advertisements as a source of inspiration (and admiration* when creating their
own campaigns. As noted above, the dominant profile of advertising practitioners
tends to be young and male, which tallies with the target market for many beer
brands. This makes working on beer campaigns, and using others beer campaigns as
creative inspiration, doubly attractive$ the youthfulness of the target market
legitimises the humorous approach that many clients sanction in their beer ads whilst
also making them personally appealing to practitioners as consumers (of ads and
products*. As I argue more closely in later sections, this selfAreferential, recursive
relationship between practitioners dual status as producers (of ads* and consumers (of
ads and products* reproduces social divisions and hierarchies. This is evident in the
working practices and ethos of agencies L as the above #uotation makes clear L and in
the textual content of advertisements that are generated within this environment.
The youthful nature of the practitioners I met in agencies (-<A>0 years old* was
significant in another respect. 1hen asked about the age profile of the advertising
workforce, one senior practitioner commented$
its perhaps reflective of the way that ?advertisings@ all about contemporary
culture and advertising is essentially ephemeral and a lot of it is about L I hate to
&0
use the word L BeitgeistJ I think that people who have their finger on the pulse
of that tend to be on the younger side.
(Account 2irector*
This comment points to the relatively narrow ageArange of practitioners but also
highlights the way in which culture, and particularly popular culture, is used as a
resource by those practitioners. The popular perception is that advertisings mediating
role centres on leading cultural trends and directing artistic and commercial change.
=ut my interview material casts doubt on the supposedly proactive nature of
advertising and instead highlights the ways in which advertising is reactive and relies
on siphoning off ideas from culture A practitioners strategically raid new cultural
trends they see appearing across a range of sites (fashion, art, popular music, design,
television* and put selected elements of them to work in their campaigns. In this
alternative perspective, advertising is not the dynamic driver of cultural change! rather
it is an industry in which the practitioners are constantly scouring the terrain of
popular culture for new ideas, images and techni#ues to meet their clients brief. As
one 8enior Freative stated, "I think were five years behind the times. ;ere,
advertising does not so much mediate cultural change as feed off, and trade in,
cultural changes that practitioners perceive in a number of contemporary arenas. As
both producers of ads and consumers of ads and products, practitioners are implicated
in a selfAreferential, recursive enactment of creativity, change and consumption.
This selfAreferentiality is not restricted to practitioners and their campaigns. Cotential
consumers tend to be conservative in their +udgement of what constitutes a good or
convincing advertisement, relying on past campaigns as their benchmarks. This has a
&&
significant, material impact on the production of new campaigns. 3any of the
practitioners I interviewed complained about the difficulties of carrying out the preA
testing of advertisements that is fre#uently re#uired by clients. CreAtesting involves
showing the early stages of an advertising campaign, or the storyboard for an
advertisement, to focus groups drawn from the general public in order to assess the
likely appeal of the finished advertisement. :ne Account 3anager commented that
this form of research is unpopular amongst practitioners as focus group members tend
to draw on their stock of remembered advertisements when +udging the trial ad$ "Hou
go in ?to a focus group@ with a script or a storyboard and consumers will feed back on
their current knowledge ... of advertising and they say Moh well, Im not used to
seeing thatN (Account 3anager &*. Thus when focus group members assess the ad on
the benchmarks established by the familiar stock of existent ads, it becomes difficult
for practitioners to introduce new, more "creative, styles of advertisement A clients are
often not willing to take creative risks that they perceive may translate into
commercial risks. The client firms brand managers are also caught between their
status as representative of the producers and their more general status as consumers of
products and ads (thus potentially representing the taste of possible consumers of the
ad and product*$ "?they@ get very nervous when they first see it ?the ad@ because they
dont know how to take it. They dont know if theyve got their client hat on, or their
personal hat on (8enior Freative -*. ;ere, the commercial and creative decisions
made by the brand manager from the side of production interface with that brand
managers personal status and taste as consumer when faced with the #uestion "is this
a good adO. This demonstrates the way in which the habitus, generalised beliefs and
taste of the brand managers at client firms A as well as those of advertising
practitioners A have a material impact upon the type and style of advertisements that
&-
get approved and produced$ here, the realms of production and consumption can be
seen as indistinct and mutually implicated. This all points to the rather conservative,
selfAreferential nature of the advertising process and its textual endAproducts. The
production process is less a creative blitB than an often tense negotiation between the
creative drive of agencies and the commercial imperatives of clients. In addition, it is
implicated in consumption tastes and practices of the key actors in complex ways that
cannot be separated from production decisions about the advertisement. I explore this
relationship more fully in later sections.
Cractitioners are also considered cultural intermediaries in relation to their supposed
role in disseminating capitalist ideologies. 8ome accounts have launched scathing
attacks on the personal motivations and perceived hypocrisies of practitioners. 'or
example, 8oar argues that the discourse of creativity functions as a kind of
"ideological smokescreen$
It shields the intermediaries, particularly ad creatives, from the potential
epiphany that their endeavors may merely be the prosaic, artless instruments of
capital accumulation, and it deflects societal scrutiny away from the selfAsame
discovery, planting it instead in the everAattractive spectacle of charisma,
showmanship and entertainment.
(-000, p. >4-*
'rom another (e#ually critical* angle, =ourdieu (-000, p. 466* argues that advertising
practitioners L or "intellectual lackeys L develop a language of +ustification for their
commercial practices and social role. 'or =ourdieu (ibid.*, many cultural
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intermediaries are leftAwing individuals who are "inclined to sympathise with
discourses aimed at challenging the cultural order and, thus, in order to "accept their
ambiguous position and to accept themselves doing so, they are forced to invent the
skilfully ambiguous discourses and practices that were, so to speak, inscribed in
advance in the very definition of their position. As the context of =ourdieus analysis
was the 'rench activism of &)69, it is understandable that he should emphasise the
paradoxical relationship between the intermediaries commercial and ideological
function and their social%political commitment. In a contemporary =ritish context,
however, any sense of social responsibility and associated selfA+ustificatory strategies
take on a very different character. Amongst the practitioners I interviewed, none saw
his or her role as socially problematic in a general sense.
9
3oreover, there was no
evidence of the swaggering bravado that 8oar (-000* identifies. All the practitioners
in my study were highly selfAreflexive about the nature of their +ob, and were critical
of the selfA+ustificatory discourses that they say are common amongst their peers. =ut
these +ustifications were not based any sense of advertising as a socially corrosive
force, but on practitioners own experience of the banality of the advertising industry.
Gveryone in advertising likes to think that theyre fantastically creative and its
an industry up there with writing and filmAmaking and other creative industries,
but it isnt L its +ust selling things J =ecause advertising is supposed to be
creative and it isnt always that creative and it isnt making films and it isnt
being in a rock band, I think you get a lot of people trying hard to +ustify to
themselves why theyre involved in it ... when people do leave and go and do
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8everal practitioners, however, were ambiguous or explicitly negative about tobacco advertising
although, interestingly, not about alcohol advertising (see Fronin -00>*. This suggests that practitioners
do not perceive advertising in general as socially detrimental, but focus their ob+ection to tobacco
advertising on its reference to a dangerous product.
&>
something thats perceived as more meaningful like academic study or
psychology or going travelling or whatever, everyone goes, "oh, thats fantasticP
Thats so brave. Im going to do something like that. Im going to get out. 8o
youve got this weird selfA+ustification and insecurity thing about people in the
advertising industry, because ultimately they are +ust making ads.
(Account 3anager &*
This account certainly deflates the glamorous, creative image that is so often
associated with the advertising industry. It also points to the complex ways in which
practitioners think about their +ob and their social role. This is significant as it impacts
in important, material ways on the nature of the ads they produce and their
motivations for taking certain creative approaches to a brief. 'or example, a key
element of the dayAtoAday practices of agencies is the negotiation between client and
agency in terms of the initial sketches or storyboards for a campaign. This is a tense
moment both for the agencys Freatives and for the clients brand manager. It is
mediated with great care by Account 3anagers with due regard for the clients
anxieties about creating a successful campaign and Freatives concerns about
maintaining what they see as the artistic "integrity and commercial impact of their
approach. The Account 3anager takes the clients comments back to the Freatives
and presents the criticisms, comments and ideas as diplomatically as possible. As one
Account 3anager put it, "In terms of the creative process, theres always a lot of J
heated debate in terms of taking the clients comments and trying to maintain the
integrity of the work (Account 3anager -*. 'rom the Freatives point of view, this is
the moment at which their artistic vision is vulnerable to "interference from the client$
&<
1e get anxious when the ad leaves our layout pads and goes to the client and
its out of our hands and the account people have taken it off us. Its that time
when were waiting for the debrief when they go, "weve got a few client
comments, a few little comments wed like to address.
(8enior Freative 4*
As another Freative puts it, the perception is that the brand managers are under
pressure from their superiors to include too many elements in the advertisements
message, thus detracting from its overall impact$
Theyre probably putting something in because their boss told them to put
something in. 8o we put it into the advert and instead of telling the punter one
thing, were now telling them three things. =ut the one thing is strong and the
three things dilute it.
(8enior Freative -*
The "dilution of the advertisements visual impact is significant for the Freatives as
they gain considerable +ob satisfaction from producing what they consider to be
innovative, artistic ads. =ut it is also significant as Freatives are additionally
motivated by the lure of winning creative awards such as the UKs prestigious
"2IA2 (2esign and Art 2irection* awards. These offer personal recognition and
status$ "Its like having a medal after youve been to war ... you did something and
youve got something to show for it (8enior Freative -*. This is particularly
significant for them due to the ephemeral nature of their artistic creations$ "Hou dont
really have an end product, not like car designers who can point to a car on the road
&6
and say MI designed thatN... all our stuffs tomorrows chip paper (8enior Freative 4*.
:f course, winning awards also translates into increased salary, status and enhanced
career opportunities.
This example of the negotiation of the draft or storyboard of a campaign demonstrates
how practitioners such as Account 3anagers mediate between the agency and client,
but also mediate between the clients criticisms and the Freatives artistic sensibilities.
It also supports my earlier point that practitioners own habitus, tastes and (artistic
and careerAoriented* motivations impact upon the style and content of the finished
advertisements.
Another important mediation that is evident in my interview data is the very medium
through which practitioners present their views on advertising. 3any of the accounts
draw on and recirculate advertising "folklore and a cannon of axioms and modes of
expression, for example$ "Freativity for creativitys sake is worth nothing (Account
Clanner*! "8uccessful advertising is very true to the brand or the product (Account
3anager -*! "3y +ob is to tell consumers what they want next (Account 3anager -*.
These discourses on advertising are drawn from multiple sources, including pep talks
by their bosses, the trade paper Fampaign, and books by the "great men of
advertising such as =ullmore (&))&* and :gilvy (&)6>, &)94*. This circulation of
modes of understanding the role of both advertising and practitioners within the
industry itself constitutes a "regime of mediation$ it mediates practitioners
presentation of the industry and their articulation of their identities to themselves. This
is not to suggest that practitioners accounts are false or distorted, but rather indicates
that the circulation of these axioms and promotional epithets are part of the very
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currency that constitutes the commercial relationships between agencies and clients,
as well as the very habitus of practitioners themselves. This "advertising talk is part
of agencies response to commercial imperatives re#uiring them to constantly promote
their role and skills to potential clients, and functions to make the advertising world
turn. I have explored both these issues in more detail elsewhere by focusing on what I
call practitioners "promotional beliefs (Fronin -00>, p. 6&*, and I give more
consideration to the issue in the next section. The point I would like to emphasise here
is that any analysis of advertising practitioners as cultural intermediaries must
broaden its scope to encompass more than their assumed role in mediating between
producers and consumers. Analyses should include the multiple regimes of mediation
that occur in the everyday commercial practices of agencies. These include the
mediating role of media buyers in agencies who broker relationships with specific
media sites (e.g. television, radio, cinema, outdoor advertising companies*! the
complex and sometimes fraught mediation of conflicting approaches that occurs in
any one campaign between individual Freatives, Account 3anagers and Account
Clanners! the mediation through advertising axioms of practitioners own selfA
understandings! the mediation Account 3anagers effect between clients and agencies!
the mediating role Account Clanners take when commissioning, analysing and
"translating commercial data from research companies into usable ideas for
campaigns! the role that such Clanners play in imagining and constituting specific
(ideal* "market segments and incorporating them into advertising strategy and endA
products (advertisements*. The following section offers the beginnings of such an
analysis by focusing on +ust one of these regimes$ the form of commercial mediation
that agencies foster between themselves and their clients.
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T;G F:33GEFIA. EGA.38 :' A,G7FIG8 A72 :' T;GIE F.IG7T8
Theorists have claimed that the significance of cultural intermediaries such as
advertising practitioners is growing in contemporary societies ('eatherstone &))&!
.ash and Urry &))>*. =ut if this claim about the augmentation of their role is correct,
it is centred not only on a growth of a "traffic in criteria (Appadurai &)96, p. <>*. It
also derives from a multiplication of commercial mediators such as advertising
practitioners to include management consultants and, more recently, branding
consultants. This expansion of institutions offering expert knowledges to producers
represents for advertising agencies increased competition and, as my interview data
reveals, impels them to engage in more intensive promotional practices (also see
3alefyt -004! 3iller &))5! Kover and ,oldberg &))<*. These efforts are oriented
firstly, towards promoting advertising as an efficient commercial tool (in competition
with other promotional forms such as branding events, packaging and distribution
etc.*! and secondly, towards the selfApromotion of individual agencies +ostling for
business in a crowded market place. To compound the uncertainty and highly
competitive nature of this context, advertising has to address the problem of
demonstrating its commercial efficacy. The indeterminacy of advertisings effects on
sales has long been recognised by agencies and their clients, and this places added
stress on agencies to promote themselves as skilled creative and commercial
practitioners who will generate successful campaigns (see Fronin -00>! .ury and
1arde &))5! 3iller &))5! 8chudson &))4! Tunstall &)6>*. 3oreover, practitioners
find themselves in a position of chronic uncertainty with regard to their clients who
are perceived as fickle and wont to change agency without warning (Kover and
&)
,oldberg &))<*. Agencies respond to these challenges by promoting their skills and
by presenting themselves as experts, particularly as "experts in communication
(Alvesson &))>, p. <>4* and experts in researching and "delivering the consumer.
8ome academic accounts have argued that advertising practitioners deployment of
research techni#ues operates an efficient panopticism on consumer behaviour,
conducting "a disciplinary surveillance on consumer culture (;ackley -00-, p. --6*.
;ackley argues that, "the surveillance, categoriBation and interpretation of consumer
data by advertising agencies represents a significant dynamic driving advertisings
ideological force (-00-, p. -&4*. =ut this emphasis, I think, misses the crucial point
about agencies deployment and reinvention of such techni#ues. As 'oucault (&))&, p.
-0-* has argued, panopticism "automatiBes and disindividualiBes power$ in effect,
anyone can operate the technologies of panopticism. Thus, such research techni#ues
do not in themselves guarantee specific agencies an advantage in promoting their
commercial skills to potential clients. =ecause anyone A including client firms
themselves and rivals such as management and branding consultants A can operate
such techni#ues, individual agencies must expend even greater effort in attempting to
persuade potential clients of the benefits of employing them.
All these factors combine to pressurise agencies into refining or "rebranding their role
as intermediaries between producers (who, practitioners claim, lack the necessary
creative skills and branding experience to promote their products* and consumers
(who, so the pitch claims, are difficult to reach and persuade without the aid of
agencies commercial skills*. 'or example, one of my interviewees claimed that in
response to such pressures, his agency was redefining its role as an expert in branding
rather than an expert in other areas traditionally associated with agencies, e.g.
-0
consumer research. :ne important sideAeffect of this manoeuvre to promote
advertising agencies as indispensable intermediaries between producer and consumer
is to reinforce the perception L amongst clients, agencies and indeed academics L that
the realms of production and consumption are strictly distinct. ;ere, agencies active
mediation of discourses of commercial legitimacy has a constitutive effect$ theirs is
not a passive role, merely relaying and channelling flows of ideas and finance
between different commercial realms. Eather, practitioners actively enact or constitute
the commercial realm and the perceptions of the relationship between its multiple
elements.
Another element to practitioners mediating role is their management of clients
anxieties and conservatism with regards to innovative campaigns. 'rom practitioners
point of view, clients (like the members of focus groups* are very conservative in their
+udgement of advertisements and tend to favour familiar advertising formats and
styles. In effect, clients are producers (of commodities and services*, but it is also
their status as consumers (of ads and products* that orients their commercial decisions
about how their advertisements should look. To illustrate, one Account 2irector
discussed the problems of managing car campaigns$
I think it has become more difficult, not only because of regulation, but partly
because of the problems with being creative, original J car ads all look the
sameJ and thats partly because all car manufacturers expect the same sort of
thing for their advertising. 8o for example, the cars must look fantastic with lots
of camera time spent on the car J the hero of the whole thing has got to be the
-&
car and it has to be in a great location. Its getting to the point that theyre all
being set in the same place, starring the same people, doing the same thing.
(Account 2irector*
As car campaigns tend to be very expensive, the brand manager or contact person
from the client firm is anxious to get the advertising right and thus relies on other
companies car advertisements as a touchstone for good or effective advertisements.
Additionally, changes in the productAtype alters the information that the advertisement
is re#uired to present and this makes the agencies task of brand differentiation more
difficult.
'inancial advertising is notoriously difficult to work on because, again,
everyone wants to say the same thing. There are certain things that suddenly
become very important L over the last few years its been about flexibilityJ so
everyone ?clients@ wants to do the same thing like sheep. They all lurch off in
the same direction. It becomes really difficult to differentiate brands in that sort
of arena.
(Account 2irector*
=ut more generally, clients conservatism is manifested in a desire for familiar
advertising styles and formats, ones they have viewed from their position as
consumers. 1hen asked about the most anxietyAprovoking stage of the advertising
process for the client, the 8pokesperson for the Institute of Cractitioners in
Advertising said$
--
The moment a client is most terrified is when theyre given a script or when
theyre shown a press advertisement, because most people dont know whether
its good or bad. And if that advertisement is novel, challenging, brave, then
unless that client is extremely selfAconfident ... theyre being asked to make a
+udgement on something which is going to cost a lot of money to make.
(ICA 8pokesperson*
;ere, as in previous sections, the recursive implication of advertising practice is
evident in clients internalisation of what constitutes a good (or "safe* advertisement.
)
Cractitioners have therefore played a significant role in mediating clients views of
"good advertisements prior to an agencys pitch to that client for a new campaign.
Crevious advertisements thus constitute a "cannon or a familiar lexicon of advertising
style and content which orients clients (and indeed practitioners* understandings of
appropriate or effective ads.
In the above analysis, there is a clear interArelationship between the consumption of
cultural artefacts (images, signs*, cultural practices (e.g. watching television
programmes that are liberally interspersed with commercials*, and commercial
decisions of clients. This indicates a complex relationship between consumption
practices and production decisions. =ut the significance of such relationality between
commerce and culture must be analysed with caution. 1arde (-00-, p. &9<* identifies,
and problematises, a growing number of social science accounts that posit an
increasing "culturaliBation of society, for instance, studies that argue that culture is
playing a more important role in the economic. ;e explains this culturalising trend by
)
A decision about what constitutes a "safe advertisement clearly draws on notions of risk. This is an
area which has been explored most notably by =eck (&))-*, but a discussion of his complex thesis goes
beyond the scope of this paper.
-4
the parallel growth in analyses of consumption and its relationship to production, and
particularly in the way in which many such analyses assume that consumption is
becoming "more cultural, that is, becoming more oriented around sign values and
symbolic gains than use values and the satisfaction of needs. 8everal points can be
drawn from 1ardes insights. An increase in academic interest in "culture risks
figuring a parallel growth in significance of "the cultural in the world (of commerce
or of consumption* that academics are analysing (see also 3iller -00-b*. This
potential solipsism of academic analysis also risks positing an augmentation in the
importance of cultural intermediaries to mirror the purported rise in significance of
culture. This academic "worldAmaking impelled by intellectual interest A and the
institutional demands to publish "new arguments A functions in a parallel way to the
"worldAmaking of advertising practitioners driven by commercial imperatives to
promote their skills to potential clients. /ust as advertising practitioners perform a
division between the realms of producers and consumers by claiming competencies in
translating between the needs of the first and the desires of the latter, so also some
academic analyses perform a division between culture and economy, or culture and
commerce.
&0
Eegistering these cautions, I would claim that my analysis points to the inextricable
relationality between elements and motivations standardly termed "cultural and those
standardly termed "economic or "commercial. As 8later (-00-, p. <)* argues, these
categories are "logically and practically interdependent$ "producers cannot know
what market they are in without extensive cultural calculation! and they cannot
&0
In the UK, the current government pressure on universities to establish more formal links with
"users such as local government, museums and schools, and to produce "useful research that can be
deployed by industry, points to the ways in which =ritish academics are being positioned as
"intellectual intermediaries between academic analysis and "the real world.
->
understand the cultural form of their product outside of a context of market
competition (see also 3c'all -00-b*. In this framework, it makes little sense to claim
that society is becoming "more culturalised or that the role of cultural intermediaries
is becoming more significant in any straightforward sense. This would imply that the
realms of commerce and culture that they are supposedly mediating are either drifting
apart, and therefore re#uire more intensive suturing together! or that they are merging
into one, large "culturised formation, thus foregrounding the role of cultural
intermediaries in directing tastes in "cultural consumption. Gither scenario presumes
that the realms of commerce and culture were once separate (although linked by a
traffic in commercial imperatives*. Instead, my analysis suggests a complex,
provisional and contested nexus of motivations, practices and imperatives centring on
practitioners engagement in "trafficking commodities and services, their marketised
exchange, and the role of advertising in framing their value. These motivations and
practices are not merely set within a cultural context or within an economic context$
they function to constitute that very context. The following section explores this
formation and draws together the multiple elements of this article to consider
advertising practitioners status as cultural intermediaries.
3G2IATI:7 :' 8:FIA. F;A7,G
3any accounts have identified the mediation of social change as a key element of
advertisings role. Analyses such as that of .eiss, Kline and /hally suggest that
advertising practice L e.g. research and audience segmentation L and advertising
-<
products (the textual artefacts themselves* function to mediate, organise or structure
social and cultural shifts$

through research ?advertising@ appropriates the social structure of markets for
goods and audiences for media, and recycles them as strategies targeted towards
segments of the population. Thus, advertising is a communications activity
through which social change is mediated L and wherein such change can be
witnessed.
(&))0, pp. &)-A&)4*
8uch broad statements gloss the more complex interactions that actually comprise
such "mediations. Advertising practitioners certainly work on and manage what
Appadurai (&)96, p. <>* has called the "traffic in criteria about goods in ways that
frame taste or the "appropriateness of certain goods and brands. Fallon et al (-00-, p.
&)6* call this "the #ualification of products A a process which classifies products
according to relations of similitude (or substitutability* and dissimilitude (or
singularity*. This is a dynamic process which continually #ualifies (defines* products
and re#ualifies them according to an array of factors such as input from consumers.
Cractitioners role in producing ads for financial products, for example, involves a
re#ualification of type and class in order to establish a particular products place in a
very uniform marketplace of such products. In this new service industry regime A what
Fallon et al call "the economy of #ualities A cultural intermediaries or economic
agents such as advertising and marketing practitioners become increasingly
significant due to their central role in #ualifying products (Fallon et al -00-, p. &)5*.
This is a contentious claim which I have addressed in the previous section. 3y
-6
concern here is with practitioners "#ualification or management of criteria about
goods. This is not restricted to the organisation of types or classes of products and
brands, or of consumers taste! it also involves organising the commodity candidacy
of things which relies on "criteria (symbolic, classificatory and moral* that define the
exchangeability of things in any particular social and historical context (Appadurai
&)96, p. &>*. This includes framing the acceptability of entering certain classes of
thing into an arena of marketised exchange. This process is most evident in
controversial examples of trafficking in things, such as the contested acceptability of
the marketised exchange of human organs. Advertising practitioners process the
criteria of things for the commodities and services they are employed to promote.
They do not +ust finesse the useAvalue and enhance the exchangeAvalue of products by
brandAbuilding! they facilitate the entry of those products or services into particular
regimes of exchange.
&&
As I have argued, practitioners role is not a simple mediation
between "commerce and "culture, between producers and consumers L it is, rather,
an active structuring of classes of products and their relationships to forms of
exchange. This commercial practice classifies and reclassifies in a dynamic way,
making and remaking the relationships between different types of product, between
brands, and between consumers and those products.
It has also been claimed that advertising functions to mediate the legitimacy of
consumer capitalism. 'or instance, 8chudson (&))4* has argued that advertising
operates as a form of "capitalist realism that offers images of life not as it is, but life
as it should be according to capitalist ideals. In such understandings, advertising has
an ideological function of naturalising and disseminating capitalist principles of social
&&
8ee ;araway (&))5* for a discussion of the creation of commercial relations between people and
things, and between categories of things, with regard to genetics and branding.
-5
organisation$ it is politically implicated in transmitting certain capitalist ideals about
the legitimacy of social structures based on private ownership and exchange. An
Account Clanner in my study made an interesting point about advertisings supposed
function of dissimulation in relation to the famous case of ,erald Eatners chain of
+ewellery shops in the UK.
&-
Theres that belief that people are meant to believe Q when notAQ is the case.
=ut those cases are few and far between. 1hen people are genuinely lied to,
when people are utterly misled L its really hard to point to those cases. The
paradox with branding is that people actually #uite like being misled L the
famous Eatners case. If you ever thought about it you must have known the
stuff was crap. =ut whole point was that people wanted +ewellery without
paying money and Eatners magic was that he said "you can have +ewellery
without paying the money. JAnd they bought it and it was hugely successful,
and if it wasnt for that one incident, hed be hailed as a marketing and business
genius. =ut he went out and said "youre stupid to believe in my products and
people said, "Im not letting you call me stupid, so I wont buy your products.
;e broke his own magic. =ut he didnt tell them anything that wasnt true
?about the product@ L it was public, everyone knew it. There was no deception in
what Eatner did J The point in that is that people wanted to believe in it.
(Account Clanner*
&-
,erald Eatner owned a large chain of lowAcost +ewellery shops across the UK. In a &))& speech to
The Institute of 2irectors, he famously remarked that his +ewellery was "positioned as very downA
market, that it had "very little to do with #uality, and that his +ewellery was, in fact, "total crap. ;is
comments were widely reported in the press with the result that an estimated R<00m was wiped off the
value of the company. The case has since become part of business folklore.
-9
This Clanner maintains that advertisings role is very rarely that of straightforward
deception and that consumers are complicit in its "mythAmaking processes. ;owever,
my understanding of this commercial anecdote differs from that of the Clanners in
that I do not believe that it exemplifies consumers desire to be misled or a willingness
to play along in any une#uivocal manner with the illusion that advertising and
branding offer. In relation to the Eatner example, consumers invested in the
imaginative alchemy that made it possible to buy "valuable +ewellery at such low cost
despite their underlying, unarticulated understanding that the "bargain was less than
magical. Indeed, the bargain between the producer A Eatner A and the consumer was to
suspend any discussion or investigation of price and #uality, and instead to focus on
the value of the product to consumers.
&4
This value is multiple and is not illusory in
any simple sense$ it lies in the +ewellerys symbolic status, its function as gift, its use
as a "treat etc.. In this sense, the price or cost of the +ewellery did not directly relate to
the +ewellerys value for the consumer$ its value was embedded in the variety of social
functions and symbolic regimes that the +ewellery articulated. Thus there was no lie or
deception in its branding and advertising! +ust a pact which was broken by Eatners
negative articulation of price in relation to value and his condescension to his
customers.
This "mythAmaking is often articulated in relation to brands, and many of the
practitioners in my study talked about brands as organising tropes which rendered the
consumers environment predictable and secure$
&4
8ee 3iller (&))9, -00-a* for a discussion of the embeddedness of "value in social relationships and
social practices.
-)
1hat advertisers do is ... work with meanings, and the things that bear those
meanings are brands ... Its very hard to imagine a world without brands because
they give a great deal of consistency and reassurance and safety to the world ...
=rands make the world more likely to go on being the same.
(Account Clanner*
In this account, brands offer stability and reassurance to consumers in the world of
products, helping them make increasingly difficult choices between very similar
products. In this way, this Clanners comments tally with the analysis of Fallon et al
(-00-* who argue that cultural intermediaries "#ualify or set a frame of definitions
around a product. =ut the Clanner also suggests that brands render consistent the
world outside the realm of products and help consumers navigate their lives through
the flux of contemporary capitalist society and make sense of conflicting, overlapping
social processes.
Fontrary to some accounts which argue that advertising agencies and producers
render the world predictable and reassuring for (anxious, undecided* consumers, .ury
and 1arde (&))5* suggest that advertising agencies play on producers anxiety and
insecurity when faced by a world of unpredictable consumers by offering their
commercial skills as a corrective. I would push this analysis further and argue that the
above #uotation also points to the ways in which brands and branded products make
the commercial world more predictable and manageable not only for the consumer
and producer, but also for the advertising agency. 8o whilst agencies mediate between
producers and consumers by "activating or "animating branded products A attaching
meanings and potential emotional responses to them A the existence of brands makes
40
the commercial world more stable and navigable for advertising agencies. :n one
level, brands facilitate agencies task of differentiating products and services in a
commercial realm that is densely populated by competitors products, and whose task
is hampered by conservative clients who wish to commission campaigns very similar
to existing ads. Thus, on another level, brands function as commercial signAsystems
that mediate the commercial legitimacy of agencies. They provide a tangible site
around which agencies claims to that commercial legitimacy and creative expertise
are centred. =rands, then, should not be understood simply as tools used by agencies
to mediate ideas about products to consumers$ a brand functions as an organising
nexus, drawing together and articulating the commercial imperatives of agencies,
practitioners role in "#ualifying products, and consumers imaginative investment in
their potential relationship to the product.
I have argued that advertising practitioners role as cultural and commercial
intermediaries is more complex than commonly supposed and operates in terms of
multiple regimes of mediation. =y focusing on one such regime L the relations
between client and agency L I have attempted to demonstrate the multiple commercial
imperatives of agencies and of clients, and the ways in which practitioners mediate
these numerous and sometimes conflicting interests. This form of intermediary
activity can be seen in terms of Eaymond 1illiams (&)99* account of mediation as
conciliation L that is, a drive to reconcile adversaries or an interestAdriven attempt to
suture fields. Agencies expend considerable time and money in this attempt to suture
or articulate certain realms, such as that of the clients interests in selling and the
potential consumers interests in buying. =ut this is not to argue that the realms of
production%commerce and consumption%culture should be characterised as separate.
4&
Het, practitioners efforts to persuade clients that they have the skills to reach out to
the "cultural consumption realm of the consumer paradoxically reinforces the
common perception that the realms of production and consumption are strictly
distinct. In effect, practitioners selfApromotional claims about their intermediary
status performs a division between producers and consumers, and commerce and
culture. In claiming mediating skills that can render the "cultural realm of
consumption knowable and available, practitioners perform what .atour (&))4* would
call an act of division between the inextricably linked Bones of consumption and
production. In addition, by failing to recognise the mutually implicated status of
practitioners and of client brand managers as both producers (of ads and products,
respectively* and as consumers (of ads and products* in their everyday lives, the
realms of production and consumption are again figured as strictly distinct. This
division is reinforced, and constantly made and remade, by the integration of
commercial imperatives and beliefs about advertising into the practices of advertising
practitioners and their clients. In effect, the division is acted out or performed.
=y circulating claims and selfApromotional rhetoric, agencies attempt to institute
specific regimes of exchange between themselves, clients and potential consumers
that are based on the currency of their purported skills and expert knowledges. They
try to ameliorate their unstable position in a highly competitive market by establishing
this currency of skills around branding, creativity and claims about their capacity to
effectively reach their clients target market. As part of this operation, practitioners
engage in a "traffic in criteria about products (Appadurai &)96, p. <>*. =ut they do
not merely differentiate similar products with the aim of promoting one over another!
they actively order or class types of thing, and define their status as commodity. In a
4-
subtle and complex form of mediation, they bring goods and services into a finely
calibrated regime of marketised exchange. I have given examples of this ordering of
classes or types of things in relation to practitioners management of accounts for
financial products. ;ere, very similar products re#uire differentiation in the market,
but the "traffic in criteria also operates at more profound levels. =randing and
advertising attempts to order and reAorder classes of commodities, for example in
advertisings active management of the distinctions between medicines, nutritional (or
"health* supplements, and food. ;ence, some yoghurt drinks are now being marketed
as having health or medicinal benefits in a reclassification of their conventional status
as (nutritious* food to a new status as food supplement or even medicine. :n a more
radical level, I have also noted that advertising can work on reclassifying the
parameters of acceptable marketised exchange, for example by attempting to enter
certain classes of materiality, such as human organs or eggs, into the status of
commodity and hence into the realm of legitimate market exchange. Thus, the account
I am offering here nuances the supposedly axiomatic statement that advertising
practitioners channel or transmit cultural change. In my analysis, practitioners can be
seen as trying to establish frameworks for defining or "#ualifying products and
consumers in relation to specific forms of marketised exchange.
=ut such attempts to establish marketised relations of exchange (of knowledge, of
commodities* does not necessarily mean an increasing commodification of the social
or a triumph of a particular form of capitalist exchange. Eesponding to Fallon et als
(-00-* characterisation of expanding marketisation (and parallel expansion of
intermediaries*, 3iller (-00-a* argues that the representation of such marketisation in,
for example, marketing rhetoric should not be mistaken for individuals actual
44
practices. Ceople are not compelled to order their transactions within capitalist
models! in fact, ethnographies which track embedded social practices demonstrate the
complex ways in which individuals and groups orient their consumption practices and
exchanges in very different ways. These may run parallel to dominant capitalist
frameworks but are not determined by them (3iller -00-a*. 'or Fallon et al (-00-*,
marketised exchange constitutes the frame within which we act in capitalist society.
=ut for 3iller (-00-a, p. -->*, "what lies within the frame is not the market system as
an actual practice, but on the contrary a ritualiBed expression of an ideology of the
market. 8o whilst advertising processes, practices and products (advertisements* are
often read as part of a superAefficient commercial tool for channelling and stimulating
consumption practices within a particular regime of exchange, their actual status and
impact is rather more ambiguous and modest. The advertising process is more
disarticulated and contingent than is commonly portrayed A advertising practices do
not translate automatically into increased sales for a product or service (see 8chudson
&))4*. 7or can advertising practitioners be said to lead or direct social or cultural
change L their practices are more reactive than proactive. Adapting 3illers (-00-a*
insight, it is possible to understand advertising practitioners role as that of trading in
ideologies of the market, but not +ust in the sense of promoting ideologies of
consumption to consumers. Cractitioners mediate understandings of exchange of
branded products to clients and attempt to trade in expert knowledges about
consumers. Indeed, I would argue that the imperatives, rhetoric and practices of
advertising agencies emphasise the contested and provisional status of marketised
exchange rather than its unambiguous triumph. 3arketised relations of exchange must
be continually performed, worked and reworked because the ideologies of such
exchange presented by advertising do not wield enough power to permanently fix
4>
consumers beliefs and practices. As in the example of Eatners +ewellery, the
ideologies of exchange and possession do not fully explain why people bought the
+ewellery and do not fully explain why they stopped buying it. This is because such
understandings, whether deployed by advertising practitioners or by academics, do
not ade#uately appreciate the embedded nature of values in social practices that are
not fully determined by marketised exchange. Advertising practitioners must negotiate
these tensions and in doing so continually invest considerable effort and time in
attempting to manage brands and promote products L indeed, it is well known that
many new products launched on the market fail (8chudson &))4*. Advertisements and
products are constantly appropriated by consumers, and their meanings and social
function reworked. Cractitioners attempt to manage these practices and
simultaneously aim to promote their "#ualifying skills to potential clients. In this way,
agencies perform relationships through multiple regimes of mediation, bringing those
relationships into being and constantly redefining them. These relationships
incorporate and rework practices, motivations and ideals that are conventionally
called either "cultural or "economic, but cannot in practice be isolated from one
another. It is the nature of this categorical interdependence and practitioners multiple
mediations that re#uires further analysis if we are to fully comprehend advertising
practitioners role in society.
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