Decoding “The New Order”: Audience Interpretations of the 20th Philippine Advertising Congress Television Commercials


This study looks at a series of television commercials that featured the Aetas, a Philippine indigenous group, which promoted the 20th Philippine Advertising Congress (PAC) and its theme “The New Order.” Employing Hall’s encoding/decoding model and Croteau and Hoynes’ model of media and the social world, this study sought to answer the question: Does cultural background play a role in shaping audience interpretations of mediated representations of indigenous peoples and other “othered” racial groups? Focus group discussions with “indigenous” and ‘non-indigenous’ audiences suggest that along with cultural background, political affiliations and personal experiences with indigenous peoples are influential in decoding the representations of Aetas found in the PAC commercials. However, the finding that both audience groups decoded the commercials in a negotiated manner raises significant questions about the systems of knowledge upon which racial discrimination is founded.