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More than Meets the Eye: Transmedial entertainment as a site of pleasure, resistance and exploitation
Karlstad University, Faculty of Economic Sciences, Communication and IT, Department of Media and Communication Studies.
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Today’s converging entertainment industry creates ‘transmedial’ brand worlds in which consumers are expected to become immersed. Integrated marketing campaigns connected to these worlds encourage various kinds of consumer productivity and invite consumers to partake in brand-building processes. Consumers, thus, are increasingly counted on to act as co-producers of contemporary entertainment. While such an altered consumer identity has been taken as evidence of enhanced consumer agency, it has also been recognized as a source of consumer exploitation. 

This thesis aims to further our understanding of the increasingly ambivalent power-relationship that exists between agents in the entertainment industry and their most dedicated customers – the fans. The study employs a multiperspectival theoretical framework, in that cultural studies theory is enriched with perspectives from political economy. This integrated approach to the object of study yields a better understanding of the values of consumer activity, and fan productivity in particular, to industry and consumers respectively.

The study applies existing theory on transmedial textuality, branding, and fandom to one particular franchise, Hasbro’s Transformers. This brand world, home of both industrial and fan-based creativity, is studied through analyses of official and unofficial contents, and through interviews with professionals and fans. The focus is on the brand environment established around the first live action film ever made within the franchise. Special attention is given to the all-encompassing film marketing campaign that contributed to forming this environment and to fan productivity taking place in relation to it. 

The case study shows that companies and fans contribute to the building and promotion of the Transformers brand world – in collaboration and in conflict. While fan productivity occasionally takes place without direct encouragement from the companies involved, it is also largely anticipated and desired by marketing campaigns. The findings suggest that consumer enjoyment potentially translates into industrial benefits, including free brand promotion. Ultimately, the thesis acknowledges transmedial worlds of entertainment as concurrent sites of pleasure, resistance, and exploitation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet , 2012. , 355 p.
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2012:55
Keyword [en]
Transmedial, entertainment, world, brand, media convergence, producer, consumer, fandom, power
National Category
Media and Communications
Research subject
Media and Communication Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-15428ISBN: 978-91-7063-467-3OAI: diva2:564836
Public defence
2012-12-21, Geijersalen, 12A 138, Karlstads universitet, Karlstad, 14:00 (English)
Available from: 2012-11-28 Created: 2012-11-04 Last updated: 2012-11-27Bibliographically approved

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