The multidimensional nature and brand impact of user-generated ad parodies in social media

Bruce G. Vanden Bergh
Michigan State University

Mira Lee
Chung-Ang University

Elizabeth T. Quilliam and Thomas Hove
Michigan State University


Cultural critics argue that parody has become a characteristic form of expression in the mixed and participatory media ecology of the digital age (Jenkins 2006, pp. 282–290). New media technology has provided vehicles that allow not only professionals but any user to borrow and remix artistic or popular culture content in a way that imitates the original content while creating new content and ways of seeing the past (Lessig 2008). This complex cultural mix often combines the modern with classical elements to create a new form that has effectively flattened the old cultural hierarchy between highbrow and lowbrow art (Dentith 2000, p. 184; Hutcheon 2000, p. 115). Dentith (2000) labels the times we live in ‘karaoke culture’, in which we continuously recycle and re-voice cultural content if for no other reason than to fill the tremendous content void the new media provide (p. 184). The important idea here is that any internet user can become a participant in the production of popular culture, accompanied by the opportunity to influence that culture (Benkler 2006; Jenkins 2006). As a form of popular culture, advertising is always ripe for parody because its techniques (e.g. demonstrations, testimonials, spokespeople) are widely understood by consumers and, as a result, easily imitated and altered for comedic and critical effect.