In this essay you will find out why post-modernity results in blurred relationships with consumers and marketeers and how co-creational marketing plays into this.

Blurred relationships within marketing

We are currently living in a world, where due to the massive technological advancements made in the digital age, the relation between marketeers and consumers has blurred. Along with these advancements, the desire of consumers to interact more is a social factor further enhancing this blurred state. It seems that marketeers have been holding on to the fear of losing control over the past years, while this undeniable changing environment is continuing to offer great possibilities exceeding the fear of this specific perceived loss of control. Therefore, companies should embrace the fact that the marketing process has changed and look into every possible option to play into the phenomenon called co-creational marketing that has come along with the way integrated marketing communications should be approached nowadays.

Post-modern state of marketing

The current social condition can be described as post-modern by the marketing sector since the 1990s. It is described to be impossible for integrated marketing communications to respond to the market in a modernist way (Christensen et. Al, 2005). Integrated marketing communications (IMC) is referred to, by the American Association of Advertising Agencies, as a concept of marketing communication planning that recognizes the added value of a comprehensive plan that evaluates the strategic roles of a set of various communication disciplines (1989). Among these disciplines are general advertising, sales promotion, direct response and PR. Over the years, it has been found that still a lot of marketing philosophies, even when written from a consumer perspective, focus exclusively on the control over the communications from the companies (Cornelissen, 2001). Within general advertising, online marketing and mainly social media marketing spend has been forecasted to intensely grow over the years. In the U.S. alone, from 2014 until 2019 the spending went from 7.52 billion dollars to 17.34 billion dollars (Statista, 2014). As stated in the article by Christensen et al (2005), we can understand that IMC in post-modernity should not be fixated around the idea of control, especially since in this perceived fluid state of the consumers market, where they do not only want advertising information from companies but want to engage with other consumers as well. Due to the post-modern state of communications and the way advertising towards consumers must be approached differently, social media is a very useful medium for this.

Co-creational marketing

It seems the idea of the control has shifted and shaped its form to an increase in co-creational marketing, especially when taking a closer look at the marketing atmosphere on social media. As stated by Gamble & Gilmore (2013) control and involvement can be seen as the two interrelated variables that are incorporated in co-creational marketing online consumers look for online. Furthermore, reviewing co-creational marketing it can be found that there are five different typologies that can be defined: viral marketing, sponsored user-generated brand (UGB), user-generated content (UGC), vigilante marketing and prosumer marketing (Gamble et. Al, 2013). Zooming in on viral marketing, which is defined as a technique where consumers help in marketing a product or a service by spreading the message or their opinions to others especially by using the internet (Cambridge Dictionary, N.D.). Though co-creational marketing exists, it will remain that marketeers feel the need to persuade with their advertising and want to keep doing so. As reported by Thompson & Malaviya (2013), since companies are looking to involve consumers in order to strengthen the buzz around the brand, it is important to look at the possibility of persuasion still being able to be present alongside co-creational marketing. When Thompson & Malaviya (2013) examined if disclosing to consumers that they were exposed to a co-creational advertisement impacted persuasion of the advertisement, results showed that this was not the case.

Viral marketing: McDonald’s viral at the Ellen Show

A brilliant example of a successful, and actually accidental, viral marketing and co-creational marketing campaign happened quite recently. When two friends kept noticing an empty wall during their visits to their local McDonald’s and noticed the other advertisements could use more ethnic representation, they took it upon themselves to decorate the wall with their own advertisement. What started off as a prank, eventually when posted on Twitter about went viral, receiving over a million likes and over two hundred fifty thousand retweets. It ended up being perceived as very well brand awareness for McDonald’s. When the boys got invited to talk about their prank advertisement to The Ellen Show, they were told McDonald’s appreciated what the boys did and wanted to offer them twenty-five thousand dollars to star in their actual upcoming advertising campaign (A List Daily, 2018). With this example, McDonald’s showed that it is possible to keep a certain control over a situation, that is purely co-creational in this post-modern state of the advertising environment.

The possibilities for marketeers

In light of everything discussed previously, this case of McDonald’s embracing the co-creational marketing in such a way, it can be seen that this could have possibly increased their brand image. The post-modern state of the consumer market for marketeers has been a challenge, embracing the loss of control and finding possibilities within this. As stated before, with this shift and co-creational options within marketing coming along, the possibilities with the consumers on marketeers’ side could be endless. Since we are living in a time where integrated marketing communications need a different approach, due to post-modernity, marketeers need to embrace it. With this, the increase in co-creation around the brand online can damage the brand, but when approached positively can increase brand awareness and build the image of the company and marketeers need to remember that too.

Another great example of viral marketing, in a sense, can be found in the article about how when Spotify used user-data, they also went viral on social media with just their campaign, read it here.


A List Daily. (2018). McDonald’s Recruits Pranksters For Diversity Marketing. Retrieved on 25-09-2018, from:

Cambridge Dictionary. (N.D.). Definition: Viral Marketing.  Retrieved on 25-09-2018, from:

Christensen, L. T., Torp, S., & Firat, A. F. (2005). Integrated marketing communication and postmodernity: an odd couple? Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 10(2), 156-167.

Cornelissen, J.P. (2001), “Integrated marketing communications and the language of marketing development”, International Journal of Advertising, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 483-98.

Gamble, Jordan & Gilmore, Audrey. (2013). A new era of consumer marketing? An application of co-creational marketing in the music industry. European Journal of Marketing. 47. 10.1108/EJM-10-2011-0584.

Statista. (2014). Digital marketing spending in the United States from 2014 to 2019, by segment (in billion U.S. dollars). Retrieved on 25-09-2018, from:

Thompson, Debora & Malaviya, Prashant. (2013). Consumer-Generated Ads: Does Awareness of Advertising Co-Creation Help or Hurt Persuasion?. Journal of Marketing. 77. 33-47. 10.2307/23487432.

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