Understanding Hypercommercialized Media Texts

Matthew P. McAllister and Alexandra Nutter Smith


This chapter reviews critical-cultural media studies work on “hypercommercialized” media texts and offers an analysis of such a text. Given the incentives for commercial and promotional messages to grab the attention of consumers and integrate into their lives, we are seeing a variety of hybrid commercial forms in media. Product placement/integration, branded entertainment, sponsorship, cross-promotion, and other hypercommercial texts appear in different media and contexts. This chapter examines reasons for the prominence of these hybrid forms, and integrates previous research to explicate their textual dynamics and cultural implications as well as theoretical concepts that can be useful in interrogating them. The NBC comedy 30 Rock is used to illustrate how different commercial contexts influence the meaning of a hypercommercial text. A discussion of how increased interactivity and target marketing further complicate the study of hypercommercial texts concludes the chapter.

Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, in his satirical 2011 documentary Pom Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, asks Ralph Nader, “Where should I be able to go where I don't see one bit of advertising?” Nader's response is, “To sleep.” As this exchange signals, the “millennial era” may be someday known as the “hypercommercialized era.” Commercial and promotional intrusion is found in several venues, ...

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