Beyonce’s web presence and the artist-fan relationship

According to this Ad Age article, Beyonce does not feel that her brand website represents her diverse interests (in “fashion, travel, photography and art”) and is entertaining proposals from various ad agencies in hopes of change it. While the content feels rather impersonal and the blog format and arial fonts do seem a bit amateurish for an artist of her stature, it is odd that in order to accomplish her aims of personalizing her website, she is employing an external corporate entity.

In any case, this seems to be another example of the shift toward artist-fan intimacy, where she is now using her web presence to develop relationships with fans (by revealing herself as an individual—tastes, likes, dislikes, etc.) rather than the impersonal promotion of products associated with her brand (i.e. taped concert materials).

– Nima Hassan


More on Ads and Entertainment Content: When is a song just a song?

When we consider the integration of advertisements with entertainment content, we usually think of painfully transparent product placement—of Paula Abdul sipping from Coca Cola merchandise during American Idol. The insertion of branded goods into television programs often feels forced—as something highlighting rather than destabilizing the distinction between advertising and actual entertainment content. But the advertisement of a good with inherent entertainment value—such as music—presents a more naturalistic application of the technique.

Apple produced a commercial featuring the song “Lose Yourself” by Eminem for the rapper’s best hits album, “Curtain Call.” The work certainly functioned as an ad in that it caused sales of the promoted good to increase, but it also functioned effectively as ‘entertainment content’ by being consumed and enjoyed by audiences. Evidence of this is the popularity of the clip on YouTube—the commercial has been viewed 70,449 times as of November 2011. YouTube user TomateFarcie posted a revealing comment, writing, “I love this piece! That’s what I call a great iPod commercial. Eminem used to do great stuff before he became commercial…”

It is incredibly ironic that the product of a national advertising partnership with a major multinational corporation is being characterized by some viewers as a “[non-]commercial” artistic work (particularly signified by TomateFarcie’s use of the term, ‘piece’). The statement is testament to the degree to which the (already fluid) line between advertising, art and entertainment is becoming even more blurred.

– Nima Hassan

What does it take to make Scandinavian home furnishings as popular as “Lost?”

Cultural theorists have long predicted the integration of advertising with entertainment content. Often, advertisers do this by inserting their products into established, popular shows, rather than trying to build narratives and characters around the brand from scratch. However, we are seeing more and more commercial webisodes of the sort IKEA has produced for Youtube (see as well, Fresh Takes, Alicia Keys’ “micro-series” for the Dove Go Fresh campaign But how successful have these efforts been? ‘Fresh Takes’ appears to have had little impact and most of the episodes in the IKEA series above have only double digit YouTube views. Compare that to the million + views of many of Allstate’s viral Mayhem commercials (

All three productions were intended to have high entertainment value and prevent viewers from remembering they were watching an ad. So what explains the huge difference in their success? Is it an issue of commercial length? The ironic tone of the Allstate ads? Or merely a matter of writing quality?

– Nima Hassan