Corporate Advertising

Posted on June 11, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

By: Holly Murphy

In the last few blog posts, it has been made abundantly clear that media consolidation has become a pervasive issue that has plagued the U.S. with limited viewpoints and overwhelming control. However, we have not explored how this problem has affected other industries involved—such as advertising. Ever since large corporations, for instance News Corp, began to take control over the mass media, advertising agencies have naturally partnered with them to use this means of mass communication to sell their product. In theory, there is nothing wrong with that, as it propagates the spread of innovative ideas and concepts. However, the sophistication of advertising methods and techniques has progressed significantly with time, creating consumerism and needs where there has been none before. Furthermore, the line between advertising and corporate media has been profoundly blurred, and both have become oddly interlinked. While advertising agencies may be independently owned, large, consolidated corporations are still responsible for the overwhelming effects of advertising in society.

Media and Advertising            

Though it may appear as if large corporations and the advertising industry are separate entities, they actually have quite an interlocked relationship. In other words, the big media’s primary function is selling audiences to advertisers. Corporations such as News Corp do not directly make money when viewers turn on the television. Rather, they earn a profit when advertisers pay them to air their content. An unrelenting pressure has been placed on big media companies to change and shape viewer content based on the demographics of the audiences. Therefore, the quality content of the media is not nearly as important as the audience that is being targeted by the ads. Thus, it becomes important to note that the success of large corporations is highly dependent on the success of the advertising industry. 

The Audience As The Product

As Noam Chomsky asserts, for a company such as the New York Times, “it too has to sell products to its customers.” According to Chomsky, for the New York Times and companies alike, the product is the audience and the customers are the corporate advertisers. Though the readers purchase the paper, they fit a certain demographic that becomes vital to the paper’s success. It is this demography that becomes the valuable information that can be used by advertisers to ultimately filter more money into large corporations. Unsurprisingly, the actual product that the New York Times and other such companies bring to the advertisers is the audience itself. Naturally, it becomes clear that the advertisers then bring the money to large media corporations, as they pay these corporations large sums to use their media outlets.

Product Placement            

Another issue that advertising industries and media corporations graciously embrace is product placement—embedded marketing where branded goods or services are placed in a context usually devoid of actual ads. This advertising tactic is becoming more and more prevalent with time, as advertisers have found that people utilize ways to skip over commercials (TiVo, OnDemand channels, etc.). In fact, research has shown that two-thirds to 80% of ads are skipped. Clearly, people do not want to watch advertising—hence the increased use of product placement. For instance, the highly acclaimed television series Modern Family has recently received unwanted attention for an episode that featured a storyline entirely devoted to the geeky father Phil who wanted nothing more for his birthday than an iPad, with scenes set in Apple Store lines and numerous characters raving about the product. The show is produced by Fox Entertainment Studios, and is aired on Disney’s ABC television network. No coincidence, Apple CEO Steve Jobs is on the board of directors at Walt Disney Co. Thus, it becomes clear that both the advertising industry and big media corporations are conveniently intertwined, and even quite dependent on each other for profit.  


The issue concerning the relationship between the advertising industry and big corporations is one of many layers—therefore, it is difficult to analyze it without breaking down the individual parts. First and foremost, the advertising industry needs to remain independent of large corporations so they can function autonomously, and without the influence of large corporations. Similarly, big corporations need to be less fixated on selling audiences, and be more concerned with delivering quality content. That way, television and other corporately owned media outlets will attract quality and informed audiences. In turn, advertisers will market their products more frankly, and less deceptively.

Corporate Media

Media and Advertising

Media Monopoly

Modern Family iPad Controversy

Product Placement

Media Reform

Advertising & Corporations 

Global Marketing & Advertising

Media Manipulation

Corporate Influence on Media


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