Post - modern marketing and marketing communications
The paper deals with the problem of marketing communications at the time – so called “post –
modern” marketing. Conventional marketing models and techniques are built on modernistic
paradigm, which presents unique and structured view of the world. Today's marketing
communications are controlled by rational rules and they are concentrated above all on
measurement, objectivity and verification possibilities. In spite of the marketing communications
costs are still increasing, the management of these costs is starting to be ineffective. Specific way
how to get out and the possibility how to change the old convention can be post-modern
marketing communication, for which is typical interest in symbolism and designed truth. In this
paper author sets up the basic characteristics of post - modern marketing and his influence over
marketing communications. Post-modern marketing communication is playful, contains
paradoxes, violation, more meanings and phantasmagoric attitude. Author offers certain manual,
how we can use these characteristics for efficient marketing communication. He defines basic
method, processes and tools of these "new" marketing communications.
Post - modern marketing, marketing communications, behavioural economic, advertising,
The amount of money which yearly goes to the advertising budgets is constantly accumulated.
In today's turbulent time we can see eternal hunt after which highest target group hit. In the
last year there were inserted more than 28 milliard CZK into the advertising budgets in the
Czech Republic. Nevertheless this year of World economic depression, planned advertising
budget investments are lightly near of 30 milliards CZK1.
This numbers are really gigantic. Remind to advertising Guru John Wanamaker well-known
citation. He once said: "the half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is I
don't know which half." If this statement is true, it means that whole 15 milliards CZK
invested in advertising are wasted. Of course it can be fault of bad written Brief or clients
aversion for the campaign’s pre-testing.
Unfortunately we can often see this case of there was available well written Brief. Campaign
pre-tests were also excellent. But the campaign results were for the submitter one big
disappointment. More and more there we can see decreasing advertising campaigns efficiency
in the practice, which has in a result big influence over the whole companies marketing
This problem can not be solved by the marketing agency change. We have to search another
roots of this problem. Today we are hearing about post-modern marketing or behavioural
economics. These wholly new approaches are bringing totally new and different views on
consumer’s behaviour and even on economies behaviour. These new findings absolutely
changing marketing communications base paradigms. However these changes are often non-
accepted. So the reason how we can heighten marketing communication effectiveness is that
we should know these new findings and work with them.
1 ČTK, "Za reklamu se příští rok utratí 29 miliard, říká odhad," Týden.cz (2009),
AIM AND METHODOLOGY
The aim of this article is to chart the situation in marketing communications field in the post-
modern time. In forepart author defines the essence of post-modernism and its structure. As
well he looks on the impact to science of this new world outlook. In the second part is author
dealing with post-modernism influence on marketing communication. He sets off the post-
modern themes which has direct influence on marketing communications. In the third part he
designates what is characteristic for post-modern consumer and community. At the end author
considers applications of this new findings.
All the data used for this paper comes from actual Czech and foreign second bibliography.
This paper is a synthesis of them.
Post-modernism is the orientation which totally changes the view of today's world. Its prime
characteristic is above all the heterogeneousness. It has arisen as a reaction against
rationalism, scientism, or objectivity of modernism. Post-modernism say that there is no
universal truth. Rationality by itself does not help us truly understand the world. The
dogmatic claims are not regarded as knowledge in post-modernism. Everything accelerates
very quickly - time, future or even the culture. Attention is given to play, images and symbols.
For understanding how things works is not important the depth insight but more likely the
surface, expressions etc. Typical statement representing post-modernism is that there is no
universal truth, abstract, etc.2
The next post-modernism unique is that it breaks the distinction between "high" and "low"
culture. There aren't any differences between "good" and "bad". It has also a tendency toward
parody and self-reference.
Post-modernism has an influence on the society culture. Its style says that innovation is no
longer possible, all that is left is to imitate dead styles - we can only remix what's been done.
Post-modern attempts to provide illusions of individualism (ads for jeans, cars, etc.) through
images that define possible subject positions or create desired positions (being the one who's
cool, hip, sexy, desirable, sophisticated...).3
The post-modernism means above all totally new access to the science. The experts say
that is the end of science. Modern science had tried to find exact explication every time.
Post-modern science says that for the world understanding is very important the stories
and symbols. This changed view of science altered aim of the research. The research aim
is no more in searching the true but efficiency. The questions is no more "Is it true?" but
"What is this for?". And this questions means either "Is it getting well market?" or "Is that
Science is no longer an island of fair-mindedness in the sea of relativity. Therefore present
researches of consumer behaviour cannot be objective.
2 Stanley J. Grenz, Úvod do postmodernismu (Praha: Návrat domů, 1997).
3 Digital Loyola College media lab, "Course materials," Digital Media Lab, Loyola College,
4 Stanley J. Grenz, Úvod do postmodernismu (Praha: Návrat domů, 1997), 54.
Post-modernism and marketing communications
For modernism it was typical unique and structured view of the world. Everything had its
science well-founded rules. Thanks this there were often repressed spontaneity and creativity.
Above all the spontaneity had been pushed in modernism very often. Modernism does not
suppose that the consumer behaviour may be other than in agreement with rational economics
The traditional economist says that every human decision is rational and people know how to
estimate all goods value and quite pragmatically they will count up what is able to bring them
bigger profit. People try to maximize theirs profit and optimise theirs costs. In the result the
product can’t be for free because otherwise who would discover this product would consume
it all at once without the rest. The result of this behaviour we can often see in the case of so-
called free goods. If there is something for free, people consuming it absolutely headless.5
Post-modernism takes the old classic economic theories to the direct opposite with so-called
behavioral economics. Behavioral economists they believe that people are liable to irrational
influences. These influences are coming from people's surroundings - from emotions, feelings
and other sources. People are more likely deciding on the short-sighted decisions basis than
by the longtime plans. Behavioral economics findings are changing traditional view on
marketing models and research techniques. They namely focus on measuring, objective and
verification. Theirs function sets-up on cause and consequence understanding. Post-
modernism successfully contradicts these old stereotypes. Scientific criteria are searching
rather in art and humanities.6
For marketing it means bigger shift to symbolism and to stories - designed truth. Post-
modernism denies objective truth and common ways of surveying. Therefore is needed to
develop marketing theory and techniques which will respect post-modern findings. This can
make marketing communication efficient. In her paper " The meaning makers: postmodern
marketing“ Leanne Tomasevic is presenting six basic post-modern marketing themes. These
are hyper-reality, fragmentation, reversal of production and consumption, subject
decentralization, paradoxical juxtaposition and loyalty lose.7 To understand the post-
modernism influence on marketing and marketing communication, I will closely describe
The first theme is hyper-reality. This is one of post-modernism requirements. It says that our
original reality has changed into the something less real. Today's consumers aren't buying the
product for their basic purpose, but rather because of the experience that the product will
make possible. This is largely hanging together with behavioral economists approach. They
say that the original exact supply and demand model is not valid. People are making decisions
by other stimulations than the view of rational needs satisfying. With the product they are
buying piece of story or some symbol. We can see this for example on the brands. People are
buying new things to get a social status. The brands is so-called "values cans".8 Prefering of
certain brand makes us a member of some social group. Post-modern reality is referring to
virtual reality, unreal world. This world is designed by the symbols and stories.
5 Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2008).
6 Leanne Tomasevic et al., "The meaning makers : postmodern marketing," Admap Magazine, is. 488 (2007),
8 Jan Pospíšil, "Archetypes usagepossibility in brand communication" (paper presented at international meeting
"Branding", Vizovice, Czech Republic, November 7-8, 2008).
The second theme is fragmentation. There is typical the unity fractionalism in the post-
modernism. Modernistic mass community is going to split in minimal groups or even in
individuals. So there is changed in the way of communication with the target group. Very
often we can hear about "mass media disappearance". There's no wonder that the "old" mass
Media are not able to speak to the target groups effectively. Market and single consumers are
dividing in the name of generation of specific brands, products and also Media. It is very
difficult today to find some collective characters of some community and also to define them.
We cannot create sufficiently big homogenous target group. If we are taking advertising goal
on big target groups, advertising is not so effective. That's why there are rising new Media
and processes- to be possible communicate effectively with small target groups or even with
single consumer. New trend is internet communication or digital television broadcasting.
The third theme is reversal of production and consumption. This is different from modernism
- the production had an exclusive position in there and was determining, what consumers buy.
Modernistic advertisement sells already made products and tries to sells it to as much people
as is possible. The sense of modernistic production is in mass production which is able to cut
the costs. Post-modernism has absolutely different view of human needs. It is connected again
with behavioral economic. Today's consumers are buying rather emotions with the product,
story or status than the single product. It has high influence on consumption. There is no
wonder that the present consumer's behavior model is lost in its function. In this case there is
need for change not only in principles of marketing communications (how to offer the
product), but above all the consumer's behavior research methods.
The fourth post-modern marketing term is so-called "subject decentralization". It is again
connected with the change of consumer’s behavior. In the present marketing theory we can
see consumer like determinate entity in consumer’s process. Consumer was the clear
personality that it was possible to identify by uniform and stereotyped criteria. Today's
consumer is different. His individuality is broken down. Actually he has several independent
individualities. One of them is able to live in the real world, alternative one in cybernetic
world. Nevertheless there is only one man, his two personalities are totally different and every
of them have different needs. So consumer is able to "play" several roles at a time. This is
important to realize. The current marketing methods which are taking the consumer as one
individual person with clearly given needs are unfortunately functionless.
The fifth post-modern theme is the paradoxical juxtaposition. Leanne Tomasevic said:
"supporting the notion of difference and that it is possible to have parts of the self that are in
opposition, inconsistent and diverse, and that these variations can and do exist at the same
The last theme is loyalty to lose. It is connected with world understanding of change. Former
modernism reality view was unified. Science has only one true view of reality. Reality has
been at the same time interpreted by help of logical definitions. These definitions - above all
in case of consumer’s world reality - relied with the principle of rationality in human's
behavior. But as the behavioral economist says people are certainly not rational. In the
marketing view it means that the consumer's liabilities happen evanescent. Also consumer's
loyalty is working on the different base than it has been assumed.10
9 Leanne Tomasevic et al., "The meaning makers : postmodern marketing," Admap Magazine, is. 488 (2007),
10 Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2008), 65-80.
Post-modern consumers and community
In the end it is needed to define how today’s consumer or community looks like. What is
typical for them? Above all is important to say that the consumer is a creator.11 Using the
symbolic content which is given by marketing communications. He uses it for identity making
and also shapes this content to the different meanings. As an example I can state Consumer
Generated Marketing. As a demonstration we can find home video, which capture an unusual
experiment. Into the bottle of worldwide known Coca Cola was mixed several candies less
known brand Mentos. This video was a big surprise for both brands holders. It started to
expand in the internet very fast and many people also started to imitate this video. Finally for
both brands it meant marketing success. There were consumers who took control over
Consumer’s role in the post-modern marketing is changing. The consumer has direct
influence on production and he is giving wholly new sense to the produced products. His
individuality is divided into the next several different personalities. Any of them lives in the
different world. It makes consumers highly unpredictable. Their behaviour is chaotic and it is
influenced especially by momentary mood and emotions. Consumers make decision after
With the change of the consumer behavior also communities have been changed. By the help
of individualization and separation of consumer individuality the former "mass community"
was practically disbanded. It goes to feelings like isolation and uncertainty and also to need of
fellowship. It's because the sense for community living is given to people genetically.
Consumers therefore are trying to join some kind of community. But this is not so simple
today. We can see this groping very often today. This situation is also influenced by
consumption which often became substitute for fellowship. Consumption supplies fellowship
feeling. Buying some kind of brand consumer is getting a member of specific community.
Thanks to this consumer has fellowship feeling with others community members.
With the breakage of mass community and with the grow of consumers virtual personality
there is increased importance of so-called social networks. Thanks to FaceBook, YouTube,
MySpace or for example American Revver consumers can share their consumption with
another people. They form virtual community that has influence all over the world. Step by
step marketing is migrating to the world of virtual networks. It gives the possibility for
consumers to create social relations and social networks. It has influence over the product
reception changes. Product is a "ticket" to new and desired group. These products are for
consumers more valuable.14
It is clear that post-modernism means for marketing and marketing communications the
turning point. There is change of the view of the market. It is no longer homogenous but is
divided into big amount of fragments. On such place there are almost no social structures. To
the success the firms should create the space for meetings with consumers. They have to
enable them create the bindings on their community. This is possible to achieve through on-
11 Leanne Tomasevic et al., "The meaning makers : postmodern marketing," Admap Magazine, is. 488 (2007),
12 Christina Spurgeon, Advertising and New Media (New York: Routledge, 2008).
13 Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2008), 193.
14 Leanne Tomasevic et al., "The meaning makers : postmodern marketing," Admap Magazine, is. 488 (2007),
line community. As well this is possible to achieve by special salesrooms which can offer
experience and interaction.15 Consumers are going to active part of production process. They
are forming their own personal experiences.
To become efficient in advertising and whole marketing communication, firms has to
understand that the consumers are making the brand content. They aren't already pure targets
for products but experienced creators.16 Marketing communications should target on
experiences and offering the story.
 Za reklamu se příští rok utratí 29 miliard, říká odhad. Týden.cz [online]. 2009 [cit. 2009-
10-02]. Dostupný z WWW: <http://www.tyden.cz/rubriky/media/reklama/za-reklamu-se-
pristi-rok-utrati-29-miliard-rika-odhad_82676.html>. ISSN 1210-9940.
 GRENZ, Stanley J. Úvod do postmodernismu. 1. vyd. Praha : Návrat domů, 1997. 199 s.
 LINDSTROM, Martin, UNDERHILL, Paco. Buyology : Truth and Lies About Why We
Buy. 1st edition. New York : Doubleday, 2008. 240 s. ISBN 978-0-385-52388-2.
 ARIELY, Dan. Predictably Irrational. 1st edition. New York : HarperCollins Publishers,
2008. 368 s. ISBN 978-0-06-185454-5.
 TOMASEVIC, Leanne. The meaning makers : postmodern marketing. Admap Magazine.
2007, is. 488, s. 45-48. Dostupný z WWW:
 Digital Loyola College media lab : Course materials [online]. Digital Media Lab, Loyola
College, c2000 [cit. 2009-10-02]. Dostupný z WWW:
 SPURGEON, Christina. Advertising and New Media. 1st edition. New York : Routledge,
2008. 135 s. ISBN 978-0-415-43035-6.
 POSPÍŠIL, J. Využití archetypů v komunikaci značky (Archetypes usagepossibility in
brand communication). In.: Sborník příspěvků z mezinárodní konference „Branding“ (CD).
FMK UTB ve Zlíně, FaME UTB ve Zlíně, RK ČMS ve Zlíně. Vizovice, Valašský šenk, 7. –
8. 11. 2008. ISBN: 978-80-7318-773-6, recenzováno.
Mgr. Jan Pospíšil
Univerzita Tomáše Bati ve Zlíně, Fakulta managementu a ekonomiky
760 01 Zlín
15Leanne Tomasevic et al., "The meaning makers : postmodern marketing," Admap Magazine, is. 488 (2007),