the flawed opposition of medium vs. message

@ptiongson alerted me to this tweet from @wpponline last night:

wpponline sorrell tweet

Now, although the article uses the phrase as its title, the authors provide no evidence that Sorrell actually said, “the medium is more important than the message.”

However, this opposition remains a common debate – and one that’s fundamentally flawed.

Communication cannot occur without both medium and message – they’re entirely co-dependent.

Rather than being in opposition, both elements need to be carefully woven together: we’ve seen before that the most effective communications deliver the right message to the right people in the right places at the right times.

But maybe I’m missing something.

Could the medium really be more important than the message?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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4 Responses to “the flawed opposition of medium vs. message”


  1. 1 John V Willshire September 4, 2009 at 15:07

    Media guy says ‘media more important’. World falls over in surprise…

    Seriously though, I can think of examples where the media is more important than the message, and when the message is more important than the media.

    But the best stuff happens when both are created together brilliantly, then very well executed.

    And as a final point on the matter… when I was working for Viacom Outdoor (as was) eight years ago, the ‘medium is more important than the message’ statement flew around in a great many of the pitch presentations we created for the sales reps.

    I hope Sorrell isn’t just quoting random bits he finds in old outdoor presentations…

  2. 2 Rashmi September 4, 2009 at 15:17

    Hi, I do not disagree completely. There are instances where medium is more important than messaging. One job of advertising is to inform. In that case, the role of medium is more important than messaging!! But then I definitely agree that both are inter-dependent.

  3. 3 gallen September 7, 2009 at 16:21

    This is an extremely perceptive statement;

    It disregards the fact that when we use a certain technology/media there is always something we can do, there is always something we cannot do, and there is always something we can do better.

    For instance, consumers spending more time and more money online does not necesarily mean that the internet is the determining factor for purchase. The internet builds from the local to the global in real time, by connecting to endless search engines, to hypertextual information with different consequences.

    I would argue perhaps today (yes today): The message is the Communication/medium- They should not be viewed as separate entity with a correlation. They can be viewed as mutually collective message-the kind that we want to put forward, one that determines the way we actually process the message to a medium or a communication.


  1. 1 reasoned response vs classical conditioning « eskimon Trackback on September 30, 2009 at 09:30

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