Posted by: John Herman | October 25, 2015

Public and corporate impact on each other

It is striking how audiences and corporations impact each other. Just last Wednesday was “Back to the Future Day,” a media event celebrating a successful film franchise from the 1980s. Historically such celebrations for films or television series were started by fans and usually focused on the day that it was first aired.

This day was actually the anniversary of a date in the plot of the movie, demonstrating what the authors called “transmedia engagement.” The amount and diversity of public and corporate participation truly impressed me. Companies like Nike, Pepsi and USA Today released products based upon the ones shown in the movie, which was re-released in select theaters. Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd literally drove a DeLorean onto the “Jimmy Kimmel Live” show.

Mass media is filled with other moments:

http://www.abc15.com/news/local-news/water-cooler/back-to-the-future-day-michigan-state-police-stop-delorean-going-88-mph

http://www.ew.com/article/2015/10/23/back-future-usa-today-sold-out

http://www.people.com/article/best-back-to-the-future-day-memes

Many of these organizations likely used this event as a form of advertising, to highlight their goodwill and brand. However, without the existing fan devotion and interest in this franchise and the subsequent influence they exercise, such involvement by these organizations would have most likely not occurred.

From Prime Ministers to fans dressing up it was an interesting phenomenon where consumers, businesses and leaders were influencing each other simultaneously in a participatory culture. The question to ask now is whether this is a onetime thing or is such commercial interaction to become the norm? Is it a good thing or does it weaken the authenticity of grassroots movements?

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