MSM is Not Mainstream, They're 'Oldstream'

Hugh asks where marketing is headed:

"Here is one thought I came away with: As traditional, Madison-Avenue-style advertising gets more expensive and less relevant by the day, as the traditional mainstream media advertising business model gets continues to nosedive, where is all the client's business going to move to, as it seeks out greener pastures? Google? Perhaps. Purple Cow? Sure. But where else?

"Seriously. Where else?"
First, do let us begin to cease-and-desist referring to the MSM as 'mainstream'. They aren't. But what are they? The MSM is 'oldstream'.

Oldstream Media.

Has a nice kinda ring.


Seriously, marketing could be diving head first into product placement. Flickr. Video sites like Google and YouTube, and more pertinent to the instant conversation, to blog / vlog delivery in motion pictures and stills. Pay people who've shown your beer or breakfast cereal in their photos and videos. Just send 'em some real money.

In the still picture environment, that means billboards and banners as background. Begin to deploy these things as 'sets' rather than ads.

Similarly, wearable billboards like tee-shirts and hats with appropriately subtle logos cut through the noise. Lots of folks won't wear clothing with logos. Above all, these wearables should be groundbreakingly fashionable. Someone needs to reinvent the baseball cap and tee-shirt.

Think S.W.A.G. Advertising recipients are good and tired of being hit over the head with hammers; try generosity. Get a popular musical group to write your product into an extant (or new) hit song and give the song away - CC license it 'non-commercial / attribution'.

I'm waiting for the first non-cable television show to air sans ads breaking the narrative flow; product placement could certainly support the entire enterprise. Wouldn't that be something? I'm betting the first show to do it will win a huge audience.

Image from Ryanne Hodson, who documented the centerpiece I contributed to Vloggercue '05.



  1. Jannie, I think you're on the right track. User generated media is picking up so much steam that businesses must pay attention. It is scary that you can't control it, but that's no reason to ignore it.

    NBC 6:00 news did a very limited commercial show a couple of weeks ago. I believe it was sponsored by Phillips. I'm sure Brian Williams is conceited (hough as doubt as much as Katie Couric), but he did seem to enjoy the extra few minutes of airtime.

  2. I think technically you are right, but I don't know if I'm ready to start calling it Oldstream media in everyday conversation. I have been referring to it as "old media"... just not old-stream.

    My favorite term infact is "broadcast media"... or even "popularist media".

    I think "popularist media" may well be the most correct term because it is not "mainstream" at all.

    In fact I question wether ther really ever was a thing such as mainstream. Maybe back in the time of the "big three"... ABC, NBC, and CBS. But those days are LONG long gone. They have since been withered away by so much fragmentation.

    To continue with a theme of using real world planning, so called meatspace or physical space, as a metaphor for this new media space, or mindspace..

    You might consider a parrellel between this true "mainstream" era when there was only the big three TV stations... and "mainstreet" america which proceeded it.

    If so, you could also consider that that progression away from mainstreet america to suburbs is very similar to the progression away from the big three to 100's of channels of cable.

    Basically... cable TV = the suburbanizing of the media-space.

    If you're still with me. :)

    The question is what is next?

    We already know that the internet has completely or IS completely destroying any popularist notions of the mediaspace / mindspace.

    The internet has a new geography all it's own. That geography is centered around specialized interests and has been... or is atleast theoretically devoid of any real world geographical relationship. In short, a simple example, you can be a world class writer, artist, musician and live literally in timbuktu just as long as you can get some good broadband.

    This in essence theoretically completely breaks down any geographical necessity of proximity for work reasons... and it does, for some of us.

    In short it allows us to live anywhere we want to live.

    So to continue with this meatspace vs. mindspace metaphor...

    If mainstream broadcast media dominated mindspace = the mainstreet american mindspace

    and if the cableTV era mindspace = the subrbanizing of the mindspace,

    and the internet era = the long tail and the complete breakdown of mindspace into special interests,

    ...then what happens next in meatspace?

    What happens next in the physical world?

    I truely think that increasingly at least those in the information economy can live wherever they want to live and still do what it is they do for a living that there will be, and already is a new mass restructuring of the the real world over the next 50 and certainly 100 years. I think that it IS already starting, and that it will be very apparent in our lifetimes.

    What I'm not vry sure about is what will it be. Will people move back in from the suburbs (certainly in some cases this appears to be the current trend). Will there be a resurgence in small town America?

    Or... and this is where it get's really interesting.

    c) will people instead of moving to the suburbs in increasing sprawl... simply forgo the suburbs and move completely away from the cities to remote destinations.

    I.E. Will they Move not from Denver to Colorado Springs... but just say fuck it and go live in brenkenridge or Vail Colorada... or further out in places like Purgatory Colorado or other places far beyond suburbia?

    Instead of moving from New York, to New Jersey... will people just move all the way to Maine?

    I have a friend who typifies this for me. He was very successful in the high tech sector... they had a little company with a product you've probably never heard of... but you've used it. that's because Microsoft bought it and it became internet Explorer. Needless to say... he was a developer and a programer, a pure bread "knowlege worker" or member of the "information economy"... he no longer had a need to live in Chicago... or San Fran, or for that matter anywhere. So what did he do? He moved with his wife and kids right back to his hometown where all his family was pretty much right on the Kentuky/Ohio state line in the heart of the Appalachian mountains. A area generally thought of as a backwater with no economy and historically very poor... and yet, a beautiful place to live.

    Also... and this is all ancedotal information. I've heard MANY many stories of people from Ireland returning home... and people from India who've been in Europe or the U.S. returning to India.

    And we've also seen tremendous migration back into the downtowns of large cities. In fact downtown Chicago when I first moved there was barren of downtown living. Since then (1993) the downtown population has literally exploded. In some districts in the heart of dowtown like the river north area the amount of condominiums and rental units and hence population has easily multiplied by 10 or even 20.

    So what does all this say?

    Personally, I think we are going to see a whole mix of migration do the digital age, but that's about all I know. mass migration too... wherever people want to move... into the heart of the city, the action... back "home"... wherever the family is... small towns.

    I am very fond though of the opportunity for local resurgence in culture.

    Call it citizen journalism... or hyper local journalism... or as I do... just call it plain and simple localism.

    The internet unlike all forms of old stream, broadcast, popularist media actually has the capacity not only to cover the long tail of geographical community culture, but most importantly of all it has the capacity for US ALL to participate in and shape the cultural and political debate... wether it be on the local level... or the national or even world stage.

    The opportunity to think globally and act locally is truely possible now.

    Not can not only think about the world issues of poverty... but then instead of simply sitting around waiting for the governement to offer another billion in aid to some country... or buy a (RED)(TM) iPod... snicker snicker... or donate cash... or whatever... there are increasingly new mechanisms like microlending... or opensource funding... or collaborative mechanism by which we can offer time, sweat equity, and expertise instead of just voting at the ballot box or with our money or above all... by doing something other than simply changing the channel.

    It's not that people don't want to watch TV specials about genocide in Somalia or other humanitarian Crisis... it's that we lack the means to participate.

    The first step to participation, is finding your voice... and that's what blogging, vlogging, podcasting, photosharing and user groups and mailing lists..... and writing really long comments on someone's blog... are all about.

    I don't know if your comments accept photographs, but I'm going to try and post this photograph I mentioned to you anyway.

    The url is


    just in case.

    The photograph is below if Blogger.com accepts it.

    nope no images allowed in comments

    I was right, this mural is not by Diego rivera, though he did do some in Detroit, and seen his murals at the spectacular public Library in Toledo, OH.

    You must read the comments on the photo for more information, but the gist of it is this.

    This photography codifies an industrial era viewpoint of gepgraphy and industry. For some reason I always think of Atlas Shrugged... It's a truely empirical and industrial viewpoint. Art deco, stylistic, full of symbols. Workers, and greek gods and machinery. It's an era past on. I tend to think it bears some relevance to what we're talking about here... and what we were talking about the other day, but maybe I'm just a jack-a_s :)

    P.S. I love co.mments.com... it allows me to speak freely in comments, because I know there will be a copy of this sitting in my email with any responses tomorrow. I also, love that it really freaks people out too. :)




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