Since the end of WW2 there has been a steady push towards creating a global consumer culture. Globalization, the development of mass media, the internet, and social networks have not only enabled a specific view of consumer culture to foster but has made that view a dominant social paradigm[1], a hegemonic view. Looking at today’s society we see a hegemonic view, one that has been reinforced through various global events (the end of the Bretton Woods System, the fall of the Berlin wall, NAFTA, Dot Com Bubble/burst, 9/11, the global financial crisis, etc.), that have to varying degrees synchronized different cultural identities to this globalized hegemonic view.

We see this similar alignment to a globalized hegemonic view in advertising as well, especially through the use of rhetoric. For example, Lars presents the use of irony through a Danish telephony advert, functioning as a form of multimodal cueing, that aims to resonate a message that consumption shapes your identity. Specifically, in the advert we see the greater use of the phone leads the sexiness of the user, the consumer, and relays the message that if the consumer wants to be cool and sexy, they should be a user of this phone plan. We see similar uses of irony by Oatley in what Phillips and McQuarrie suggest as forms of juxtaposition with one side of the milk carton having the headline, “The Boring Side” with the message “but very important”. This “the boring side” represents the global standardization of food products where the products present nutrition, ingredients, and other related information. The use of irony can be seen as an attempt to promote curiosity; the notion that it’s milk but not the traditional form of milk, or the notion that “the boring side” is an attempt to call out the traditional labels and promote a sense of defiance.

In spite of the clear uses of rhetoric by advertisers to align their brands and products to a globalized hegemonic view, we still see pockets of subculture, having different ideologies, that continue to thrive and to varying degrees conflict with the hegemonic view. As Jakobsson & Stiernstedt find the depiction of social classes through television reinforce the hegemonic view, there have been attempts by advertisers to do the exact opposite. One advert that comes to mind for its use of irony is the Budweiser “Typical Americans”,, the narration presents negative stereotypes of Americans but there is some form of, what Phillips and McQuarrie describe as, fusion with positive imagery; this use of irony is an attempt to embrace a certain subculture and tie the brand to it. At the end of the day, as Kates and Shaw-Garlock illustrate with the negations of feminism and identity women have with magazines; we see ourselves in a position attempting to negotiate meaning and identity from the brands we consume and the adverts we are exposed to.

[1] Kilbourne (2004), “Sustainability Communication and The Dominant Social Paradigm: Can They Be Integrated?” Marketing Theory, 4 (September): 187–208.