December 3, 2006
Two Recent Examples of Interactive Advertising in Germany

It is not surprising to see that the excitement about participatory media usage has been spilling into advertising.
Two recent examples of brands utilizing this strategy are Hugo Boss, encouraging its (German) customers to pick a 'theme song' for their campaign from the portfolio of the British Indierock band 'The Subways', and Beck's, a German brewery, encouraging customers to design a bottle label using a simple Flash web interface.
The 'deconstructed' elements of the Becks label generator were also used in print ads where they represent an uncommon, yet familiar aesthetics for people routinely exposed to interactive media.
It is a peculiar effect that the deconstruction of the label's 'syntax', e.g. the apparent distinction between 'obligatory' and 'peripheral' elements which ensures the recognizability of the label despite all artistic 'freedom' provided by the interface, does not produce a critical stance towards the ad/label itself but, on the contrary, creates immersion because it ties in with established media practices.
It would be interesting to see some data on the 'success' of the campaign according to the criterion of interactive media exposure.
At the same time, inherently 'critical forms' of media usage potentially revolving around the campaign, e.g. a semi-public blog discussion concerning this matter, are discouraged by avoiding traditionally static, top-down strategies. This latter type of advertising, which McLuhan catchily described as „dunking entire populations in new imagery" („electric persuasion") in his „Understanding Media" in 1964 - interestingly in the chapter about weapons as media - appears to have been 'demonized' in current popular discourse.
Advertising as a 'media toy' in this respect offer a totally different, probably far more effective 'rhetoric'.