Media and Politics Research Seminar: Dr Cathy Johnson, 2 December 2014

As well as having Prof Stephi Donald lined up for 13 November, we’re also thrilled to announce that Cathy Johnson of the University of Nottingham will be presenting at our Media and Politics Research Seminar:

Tuesday 2 December, 5pm to 7pm, University of Liverpool (Rendall Building, Lecture Theatre One).

“Connecting Viewers with Content: the Promotional Screen Industries in the Digital Era”

Promotional communication has emerged as a fundamental component of the converged digital media environment as both media companies and consumer brands have been obliged to find new ways of reaching and engaging increasingly fragmented audiences. With this a burgeoning creative sector has grown internationally around brand communication, promotion and design. This is made up of an array of companies and agencies that function in the strategic, intermediary space between the entertainment and advertising industries. This paper will examine one such company, Red Bee Media, the largest digital media marketing company in the UK. By tracing the development of Red Bee’s creative division from the presentation department at the BBC (responsible for on-air promos and idents) to an international company seeking to extend beyond its specialization in marketing and promotional work for broadcasters, the paper will use Red Bee as a flashpoint for examining the shifting production cultures of the digital transmedia industries. In particular it will examine Red Bee’s attempt to reposition itself as a provider of transmedia content strategies for both broadcasters and consumer brands through two areas that have been identified as key strategic priorities: social television and ‘on-brand television’. Social television refers to the production of content, such as apps, that facilitates social interaction around television viewing through new mobile platforms. ‘On-brand television’ is a term coined by Red Bee that refers to the production and scheduling of online content for consumer brands based on the proposition that consumer brands need to behave like media brands. In both instances, Red Bee’s experience in television promotion is rearticulated as essential creative expertise in the production and distribution of new forms of promotional-storytelling hybrids and speaks to a blurring of the boundaries between promotion and content. Based on 12 months of fieldwork and in-depth interviews, the paper will argue that Red Bee can be understood as indicative of a new industrial organization in which the boundaries between the advertising and marketing industries and the film and television industries (and the content that each produces) are being challenged.

Catherine Johnson is Associate Professor in Film and Television at the University of Nottingham. She is the author of Branding Television (Routledge, 2012) and Telefantasy (British Film Institute, 2005) and the editor of Transnational Television History (Routledge, 2012) and ITV Cultures: independent television over fifty years (Open University Press, 2005). She is currently working on a co-authored book (with Paul Grainge) titled The Promotional Screen Industries (Routledge, 2015).

There will refreshments served at five, Cathy will present her research on screen industries and then there will be plenty of time for questions and discussion. We hope you can join us.


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