“Convergence: the seamless experience of seeing no boundaries between our online and offline lives – total integration.” – Hallam 2013: 16
In today’s world of PR and marketing you are no longer faced with a choice of traditional or digital. Deciding to run a campaign through social media does not mean that said campaign can no longer feature in the newspaper or as a TV ad. The digital landscape has forced the idea of convergence, where there are no longer distinct lines between traditional and digital or even PR and marketing.
The idea of convergence, whether it is media, functional or cultural can be seen throughout society. Whether it is a couple streaming live TV on their phones in the park, a teenager reading the Mail Online app on her iPad or a PR campaign that isn’t just PR but a combination of advertising, SEO, traditional and digital public relations. Convergence is apparent everywhere.
“Convergence represents a cultural shift as consumers are encouraged to seek out new information and make connections among dispersed media content.” Jenkins 2006: 3
#Lidlsurprises is the budget supermarket chains newest campaign and is a prime example of convergence. Their latest campaign is an integrated approach of traditional and digital that not only combines social media, TV advertising, print, billboard and in-store, but also brings a hash tag to the traditional side of things. This is not to say that this is a new idea but the thing that stands out with Lidl’s campaign is that it centres around the idea of their customer’s hash tagging #Lidlsurprises.
In the quote above by Hallam (2013), it describes convergence as the seamless boundaries between our online and offline lives. This campaign doesn’t mean you have to be on your phone, computer or tablet to access it’s digital aspects, there are no boundaries as the online is offline. The entire campaign is integrated with the use of multiple TV ads, Facebook and Twitter campaigns, in-store posters, billboards, it even features on their ‘About’ section on their website.
More clever still is the idea of user-generated content in marketing terms. We are often more likely to buy something or visit somewhere if we have seen other customer’s reviews online; a free promotional tool for a business. You can be driving to work on a blurry Monday morning and see a huge billboard which displays nothing more than a customer’s tweet and an image of the product with #Lidlsurprises, providing a third-party endorsement to someone who may have never considered shopping at Lidl before.
Henry Jenkins calls this Collective Intelligence; he suggests that none of us can know every piece of information about everything, when something happens such as a new campaign we talk amongst ourselves, collecting our knowledge and creating a buzz about something, passing what we know onto the next person. Lidl have used Collective Intelligence to their advantage, they have managed to get people talking about their good experiences, they then tweet the experience with #Lidlsurprises and the consumer’s bring together their knowledge of the store and it’s products – another form of media power.
As David Moth from Econsultancy states, the campaign is so simple but so effective. They want nothing more than to change peoples views of the chain, what better way to achieve that than to display the positive tweets of the customer’s themselves. The hash tag has even been used to applaud their campaign!
The idea of media convergence is defined by Henry Jenkins as “the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behaviour of media audiences who would go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they wanted”. This Lidl campaign encompasses the idea of content flowing across a variety of media platforms, utilising the use of the consumer as an alternative platform. The introduction of digital media has changed the way that we view and create campaigns, media platforms are now so integrated that convergence has become an idea explored by many professionals and academics, blurring the distinct lines of communication that once applied to the PR world.
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Hallam, J (2013) The Social Media Manifesto. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Jenkins, H (2006) Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press
Jenkins, H (2006) Welcome to Convergence Culture. [Online]. [Accessed 29/03/2015]. Available from: http://henryjenkins.org/2006/06/welcome_to_convergence_culture.html.
Moth, D (2015) Four Reasons To Admire The #Lidlsurprises Campaign. [Online]. [Accessed 26/03/2015]. Available from: https://econsultancy.com/blog/65423-four-reasons-to-admire-the-lidlsurprises-campaign/.