Wenner (2013) Consumer Culture (1).pdf - 4088 T&F Routledge Hndbk Sport Comm:Layout 2 1:45 pm Page 410 41 MEDIA SPORT AND CONSUMER CULTURE The fan as

Wenner (2013) Consumer Culture (1).pdf - 4088 T&F Routledge...

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41 MEDIA, SPORT AND CONSUMER CULTURE The fan as consumer in television commercials Lawrence A. Wenner This chapter considers sport communication as an integral part of consumer culture.A basic function of sport communication is that it facilitates sport being consumed and drives market- place value.Thus, understanding how we communicate in and through a sport marketplace that is huge and expanding is important both to those who seek leverage in sport manage- ment and to scholars who wish to understand how sport exerts social and cultural influence. In 2011, Plunkett Research estimated the size of the sports industry in the US alone at US$422 billion, with annual company spending of almost US$28 million on sports advertising (Plunkett Research,2011).Thus,there is much to substantiate Steven Miles’(1998, pp. 126, 140) assessment in his classic treatise Consumerism that “[s]port is perhaps the single area of contemporary social life to have been most profoundly altered in recent years by the everyday impact of consumerism as a way of life”and further,that“[t]elevision is probably the single most influential driving force underlying the commodification of sport.” Conversely, sport is perhaps the most important economic engine to television. Indeed, as both spiraling costs of sports broadcast rights and astronomic price tags for mega-event advertising remind us, sports programming is the most important remaining “big tent” for broadcasters. In this light, this chapter examines how understanding consumer culture has become foundational to understanding sport communication.The chapter is framed by a brief introduction to the study of consumer culture, some basic tensions in understanding the consumer and fan, and the importance of the consumer–fanship link in understanding sport communication’s promotional role.These considerations provide context for the body of the chapter that summarizes a recent series of studies examining the narrative characterization of consumption and the casting of sport consumer as fan in television advertising. The study of consumer culture It is surprising that consumer culture theory (CCT) has not made a bigger imprint on the study of sport and sport communication.When used broadly and strategically,such as in Garry Crawford’s (2004) Consuming sport: Fans, sport and culture and John Horne’s (2006) Sport in consumer culture ,CCT seems a tailor-made lens to focus understanding of today’s media-driven 4088 T&F Routledge Hndbk Sport Comm:Layout 2 20/11/12 1:45 pm Page 410
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sport marketplace.In digesting 20 years of work that has defined the core disposition of CCT, Arnould and Thompson note that: CCT is not a unified,grand theory,nor does it aspire to such nomothetic claims.Rather, it refers to a family of theoretical perspectives that address the dynamic relationships between consumer actions,the marketplace,and cultural meanings…Consumer culture theorists read popular culture texts (advertisements,television programs,films) as lifestyle and identity instructions that convey unadulterated marketplace ideologies (i.e., look
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  • Spring '08
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