“Legalize it!” - Pseudo participation as strategic communication resource.

Title“Legalize it!” - Pseudo participation as strategic communication resource.
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Duarte Melo, A., and H. Sousa
Affiliation (1st Author)Universidade do Minho
Section or WGParticipatory Communication Research Section
DateThurs 27 June
Slot CodePCRT3a
Slot Code (Keyword)PCRT3a
Time of Session14:00-15:30
Session TitleNew advances in participatory communication research theory
Submission ID6459

The proliferation of uses and meanings of ‘Participation’ make it a particularly difficult concept to frame and yet a quite useful one for its plasticity (Barsky, 2011; Cammaerts & Carpentier, 2005; Carpentier, 2009, 2011; Cooke & Kothari, 2006; Deuze, 2006; Rahnema, 1992). Economic, political, social or media participation have all a common ground but a specific significance in these contexts. Participation has long been argued to be a crucial concept in the political theory as a democratic asset and a standard for democracy evaluation; a central concept in the attribution of media performance value, based on audiences participation; in community development and social movements, supported by civic involvement and citizen empowerment (Fainstein, 2011; Zúñiga et al., 2012). Participation is even considered by some as part of our humanity, a pre-condition to our social identity and interaction (Gutmann, 2008; Gutmann & Thompson, 1997). In this paper we will focus on yet another angle for participation. In the much competitive universe of brands, participation means acceptance and activation and might perform as a considerable strategic advantage in the quest for buzz and influence. This paper will present the specific case of an advertising campaign — “Legalize it!” that used a consumer petition to legalize music downloads to prepare the launch of a new service  - Music Box - by TMN, one the mobile Portuguese operators. Based on the evolution and outcome of the campaign and interviews with its creators, we will analyse its performance and efficiency and will reflect on the ethical implications it summons, by manipulating crowd value to legitimize advertising discourses and strategies.

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