Narrative strategies, fictional worlds and branding
in contemporary media production
Carlos A. Scolari - University of Vic / University Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona, Spain)
www.digitalismo.com - www.hipermediaciones.com
• If ‘we’re are modelled by the media’ (McLuhan), then digital
interactive media have created a new user/reader that deals
– Fast adaptation to interfaces
• If every text creates its reader (Umberto Eco) and every
interface creates its user ... ¿How are ‘old media’ like
television constructing their viewers? In other words: Who is
contemporary TV talking to?
• In 1983 Umberto Eco introduced the opposition between paleo
• Paleotelevision (1955 - 1980):
– Public service (BBC, RAI, etc.)
– Pedagogical discourse
– Fiction / Information
• Neotelevision (1980 - 2000?):Public service (BBC, RAI, etc.)
– Private channels (Canale 5, etc.)
– Fragmentation (clips) / Channel surfing
– TV closer to audience
– Mix fiction - information
• This opposition today is almost useless for theoretical purposes.
I prefer to talk about hypertelevision. Let’s see an identikit
• More examples of UGC (we need a taxonomy of them!)
• If every text constructs its reader, them transmedia storytelling
is constructing a multilayer consumer(s).
• Creation of interstitial micro-stories
• Creation of parallel stories --> evolution --> spin-offs
• Creation of peripheral stories (satellites) --> evolution -->
• Creation of user-generated-content platforms (fan-fiction)
• TV-centered transmedia storytelling (24, Lost, etc.)
• Book-centered transmedia storytelling (Harry Potter, etc.)
• Comic-centered transmedia storytelling (Batman,
• Cinema-centered transmedia storytelling (The Matrix, etc.)
• This classification should be discussed! The ‘media-
centrality’ may change (The first text? The most successful?
The most important from a narrative perspective?)
Transmedia storytelling is not just a semiotic affair:
Transmedia storytelling --> More $$$$$$
• Holocron: FileMaker DB with more than 30,000 entries
(characters, planets, weapons, etc.) for supporting the
• In the past 31 years…
– Star Wars movies: $4 billion / Merchandise: $15 billion.
– “Careful nurture of the Star Wars canon—thousands of
years of story time, running through all the bits and
pieces of merchandise—has kept the franchise popular
• From product placement to transmedia storytelling. The
brand is not inside the fiction anymore, rather the fiction is
• Transmedia storytelling was not invented by George Lucas…
• Transmedia storytelling is not new.
• Disney: may be the first modern
mass-experience of transmedia
storytelling (first construction
of a multiplatform narrative
• Why is it so important today?
– Media explosion.
– User-generated content
platforms and culture.
– Hypertextual experience
makes easier to follow
• To learn more about TS narrative structures: analyzing the structure will
increase the possibilities of creating new stories (Propp, 1928).
• To analyse implicit consumers. This classical semiotic issue could be very
helpful for producers, scriptwriters and media programmers interested in
producing complex textual structures intended for a broad spectrum of
• To analyse fictional world expansion strategies.
• To analyse transmedia consumers.
Gracias! And may the Force (and the CTU) be with you!