This semester we have looked at HBO as a brand from many different perspectives. We have discussed the brand’s approach to cultural values, its cross-cultural significance, and its relationship to social class. We have discussed the influence of reference groups of HBO consumers and the factors that influence the motivations, perceptions, and attitudes of those consumers in a modern media world. Then lastly we looked at how HBO can use this understanding to persuade consumers through the proper use of media and communications.
Having now the perspective of the entire course, I would like to go back through some of these topics and discuss what, in the grand scheme of things, seemed to be the most important point of each of these topics, and any additional thoughts I might have now that the semester is over.
Firstly, is HBO and its approach to cultural values. During this discussion, I stated that “HBO is known to be groundbreaking, original, and high quality, and it turn, highlights its attachment to the current societal values of innovation, entertainment, being social, and success.” I would still support this understanding and would now like to highlight its importance. One element that was not as apparent to me at the time would be how central HBO’s positioning as a “premium” brand would effect every decision it makes when approaching other topics. For example, when we would go on to discuss social class, I would talk about how an individual might use subscribing to HBO as a status symbol because it is a premium service and therefore something not everyone could afford.
Secondly, is HBO as a cross-cultural brand. During this original post I discussed how HBO offers both new content for additional markets in countries outside the United States, and its distribution of its U.S. content to these countries as well. However, one element that I do not think was appropriately addressed was why HBO may choose not to make its foreign content available to U.S subscribers. Considering the United States is a melting pot with many different cultures that watch HBO programming, maybe this is something that they should consider. I feel that due to the brand emphasis on high quality content discussed above, that we could trust the shows being produced for HBO Europe, for example, would meet the standards of the traditional HBO viewers. So it would be interesting at a future time to discuss what other reasoning they may have for not sharing this content with us?
Next we discussed, HBO and its relationship to social class. This was one of those moments where I disagreed with the perspective of many others about the goals of HBO programming. In it, we looked at The Wire and how it is being studied at universities such as Harvard and Boston University as a realistic representation of the struggles of the working class in the United States. However, I still maintain that this is the efforts of the upper class and upper middle class of America to get perspective on the issues of those from a lower socioeconomic class, rather then those from a lower socioeconomic class fighting to represent themselves in the media.
Then, we addressed the important influence of reference groups on HBO consumers and potential consumers. To date I have actually received a few comments on this post that support my thoughts that it is your normative reference groups that have the most impact on what shows you want and media outlets you choose. Specifically, I said “The most pertinent normative influence comes from groups to which people belong, such as family, peers, and other members of one’s community. In our case, this means that you are more likely to watch or try HBO if those who you interact with regularly, and who you trust, also do the same.” I think this is important because as we moved into talking about a consumers motivations, perceptions, and attitudes, these reference groups are going to become even more important.
But, the discussion on reference groups in no way minimized the importance of consumer motivations as individuals. However, I found this topic particularly difficult to discuss. Media and entertainment fulfill certain cultural values, and are symbols of various cultures and social classes, but do they really fulfill a need? The way I settled this conundrum with myself goes back to the importance of the elements we discussed previously. Access to HBO programming is an acquired need and relates to how we interact with our greater community. I still support this fact but would be interested to know if others felt the same. Post your comments below if you have any thoughts!
In the end of November we also discussed the perceptions of consumers and how that should affect the HBO brand in the modern media world. One element that I think is worth mentioning now that the semester is nearing its end is how surprised I was by the style of HBO commercials once I started viewing them. I had always thought about the HBO commercials as scenes out of an action adventure movie, but in actuality they are very serious and dramatic, but rather quiet. I think this is a good approach in the world of chaos and loud noises. If you make your advertisements more subtle, they actually make a bigger statement.
At the start of December, we looked into the influence of consumer attitudes and determined that right now HBO is seen as favorable by the general public. However, one thing I did not discuss in this post that is worth noting is the element of HBO related to sexual and violent content. I know there are some people out there that say “Oh I can not watch that stuff, it is too graphic,” and it seems as though HBO has done nothing to address this audience. I suppose they have just accepted that you can not please everyone? I would say yes. HBO has marketed itself as edgy and dramatic, I suppose the organization has to recognize that its programming is for a broad audience but not necessarily everyone.
Lastly, most recently we talked about how to use this knowledge and persuade consumers effectively through the use of media. I commented that as a media company, any mistakes HBO might make in regards to choosing and utilizing media and communication. I think, once a company has a reputation like HBO it is a lot about keeping current customers engaged, and persuading new customers that have held out that your new content should be the missing piece for them to join the club. Today there are so many mediums out there to get your message heard. It is vital that you choose the right one or else you get lost in the noise.
In conclusion to the semester. I have greatly enjoyed this process. I chose HBO because I felt like it was relevant to my position as a B.S. in Television/Video and Business at Hofstra University, and wanted to use these skills that I was gaining to advance my perspective on a growing brand within my specific field, and I feel I have done just that. Overall, I am proud of the perspective I was able to share. HBO has a major following and hopefully some of those individuals have found this place and learned something. I look forward to any opportunities to see it grow and become something big and better then myself and my class.