How cultural intermediation applied in the campaign of Worldwide Breast Cancer #KnowYourLemons

Xuehong Jiang (SID: 460269638)
Instructor: Kai Soh, Thursday 6-9PM


According to Grünewald (2014), in the past, intermediaries can be considered as the agents offer services between two parties. For instance, the communication between artists and fans is indirect. To some degree, artists could not interact with fans effectively and unrestrictedly. In other words, there are record company, distributor and retailer as intermediaries between them. All of them above make huge contributions to boost the interaction between artists and funs. However, intermediation changed a lot because of the influence of internet and social media. In particular, there is dis-intermediation (Grünewald ,2014) which means that artists can in a way interact with their fans directly through digital networked media, such as Facebook ,YouTube and Weibo. Therefore, traditional media agents have to adapt this new circumstance to survive in the social media environment.  Furthermore, the research on how traditional media industry can face and overcome the challenge by social media has become the main task of some scholars’ lives. As a result, a given theory named ‘cultural intermediation’ is familiar to people, especially to some institutions, agents, corporations and organizations. This essay will analyze how cultural intermediation applied in the campaign of Worldwide Breast Cancer #KnowYourLemons. Firstly, ‘cultural intermediation’ will be discussed in its theoretical perspective. Then, a conclusion will be offered,  followed by the practice of ‘cultural intermediation’ —a case study of Worldwide Breast Cancer

Cultural Intermediation Theory

In a broadest sense, Piper (2013, p.348)) thinks that cultural intermediation depicts the process of moving ‘cultural’ information around. In this process, cultural intermediaries are the movers of passing this information. However, there is a more specific definition of cultural intermediation. Hutchinson (2017) states that Cultural intermediation is the process that describes how cultural intermediaries function social media with, or at least alongside, media institutions. Hence, in social media era, the difference between traditional mediation and cultural mediation would be the usage of social media. It is reported that social media are web-based communication tools that enables people to interact with each other by both sharing and consuming information (Nations, 2018). Particularly, the normal and popular web-based communication tools are Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and so on.

In addition, on the study of cultural intermediation, Hutchinson (2017) concerns the relationship between social media users and multichannel networks (MCNs). According to Grünewald (2014), MCN can be simply defined as companies with economic interests who will attract advertisers and gain benefits from advertising. They can also empower and connect social media producers by collecting and administrating social media channels. For example, YouTube has a variety of MCNs as partners, such as Maker Studios Inc, Warner Music, The Orchard, etc. The function of these MCNs is linking a wide range of artists and fans. Furthermore, MCNs are proficient in solving legal problems, such as malicious slanders and vulgar comments. Channel& Profile building for artists is also a task for MCNs.

Also, Hutchinson (2017) agrees that cultural intermediation is a combination of expertise and taste-making. There are two processes, user-to-user translation and user-to-institution translation, where cultural intermediaries can function. The process of user-to-user translation seems simple for cultural intermediaries since they are adapt in communicating with the stakeholder groups with a same language, while it is rather complicated for cultural intermediaries to coordinate the communication between users and institution that might not have same languages.

What is more, Hutchinson (2017) pointes out that the cultural intermediary role consists of social media producers, community managers, change agents and micro-influencers. In particular, social media producers suggest that active audiences are common in digital era to some extent.  And micro-influencers are quite similar to social media producers since both of them are excellent active audiences when they deliver information to the publics as cultural intermediaries. However, there is still difference between them which social media producers tend to use social media channels, such as YouTube. And social media producers are not necessarily famous people with thousands of followers. In terms of community managers and change agents, the significant feature of community managers is the maintenance of online communities’ relationship, while the change agents are people involved in specific and professional areas. As for the campaign of Worldwide Breast Cancer #KnowYourLemons, the cultural intermediaries can be more like change agents.

Speaking of the responsibility of intermediary, platform governance should be taken into account. According to Carpentier (2009), since the online environment is changeable and universal, cultural intermediary does not only offer safe and productive online environment to social media users but also provides incredible expertise and useful instruction to social media users on platform governance. In specific, given several well-known characteristics of social media: informative, interactive and audience-broad, the online environment would be polluted by various unhealthy and slanderous messages easily. As cultural intermediaries, it is their responsibility to turn these unnecessary messages into productive results.

 Cultural intermediation theory for #KnowYourLemons Campaign

As Adespresso reported (Adespresso, 2017), #KnowYourLemons Campaign is in the ranking of the 10 best Facebook ad campaigns in 2017.

The #KnowYourLemons campaign has been launched by Worldwide Breast Cancer, a global charity since 2003. According to Roxyby (2017), a young designer named Corrine Beaumont created the ‘Know Your Lemon’ campaign since her grandmother died from breast cancer and she realized herself had little information about breast cancer.


(The official website of Worldwide Breast Cancer)

The aim of #KnowYourLemons campaign is to educate women to notice the signs of breast cancer and save their lives. Obviously, the targeted audiences of #KnowYourLemons campaign are women aged between 30 years and 70 years old since most women are diagnosed breast cancer in these ages (Do you know your risk for breast cancer, 2017).

And finally, despite that #KnowYourLemons campaign didn’t last long, it has achieved success. In specific, on its primary social media platform—Facebook, 7.3 million people have been reached in one month and over 200 million people were educated last year (Adespresso,2017). Besides, on YouTube, Corrine rolled out a #knowyourlemons challenge which has caused a great sensation.


(#knowyourlemons challenge)


(#knowyourlemons challenge in 60 seconds)


(Know your lemons? Donate and share to save lives)


In terms of the reasons why #KnowYourLemons campaign can be successful, this campaign employs the cultural intermediation theory well. First of all, the main MCG involved in this campaign is Facebook which can be the most prevalent social media in the world. During the process of cultural intermediation, Worldwide Breast Cancer, as a role of cultural intermediaries—change agent, attempted to decrease the women’s fear about breast cancer and increase their awareness of breast cancer. In order to diminish the sensitive degree of breast cancer for women, apart from the memorable hashtag, Worldwide Breast Cancer created the imagery of lemons with 12 different symptoms of breast cancer to educate women. It is humorous and visual that can help women overcome a fear of checking (Adespresso, 2017).


(The facebook of #KonwYourLemons campaign)

In addition, we can see social media producers as another cultural intermediary functional in this campaign.Erin Smith Chieze, who was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer after recognising she had an indentation in her breast, shared #KnowYourLemons Campaign on Facebook. And this post gained 26,000 thumbs up and almost 2,000 comments. Also, there were roughly 5,000 people forwarded this post. In the user-to-institution translation, the process will be difficult since the literacy of social media users might different from institutions. However, the social media producer (Erin Smith Chieze) comparable with social media users in literacy and standpoint is more reliable and attainable than institutions. As a result, the engagement of social media users is increased by the cultural intermediary. Facebook users are willing to show more sympathy and empathy to Erin Smith Chieze by giving thumbs -up or forwarding post.


(The facebook of Erin Smith Chieze)

In fact, this campaign is also a combination of expertise and taste-making. Some complicated knowledge on breast cancer has been transformed through vivid pictures and interesting quizzes to suit users’ tastes. Women would rather learn knowledge from these pictures and quizzes than read piles of medical jargons.

Besides the capture of attention, Worldwide Breast Cancer also translates their cultural capital into economic value in #KnowYourLemons Campaign. On the right top of their official website page, there are two buttons: Donate and Shop. People interested in this campaign can not only donate money but also buy some exclusive products, such as posters, leaflets, window decals and mugs. Actually, these products are branded by #KnowYourLemons Campaign. Therefore, when people buy the products from the website, they know and accept the culture by #KnowYourLemons Campaign.


Adespresso, (2017). The 10 Best Facebook Ad Campaigns That Killed It In 2017. Retrieved from https://adespresso.com/blog/best-facebook-ad-campaigns/.


Grünewald, L. (2014, June 16). Media-Intermediation & Careers on YouTube: How Musicians get Empowered in Post-Industrial Media-Economies. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/LorenzGrnewald/mediaintermediation-careers-on-youtube-how-musicians-get-empowered-in-postindustrial-mediaeconomies.


Hutchinson, J. (2017). Institutional Cultural Intermediation Cultural Intermediaries: Audience participation and media organizations, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 33-62.


Nations, D 2018, What is Social Media. Available at: https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-social-media-explaining-the-big-trend-3486616.


Piper, N. (2013). Audiencing Jamie Oliver: Embarrassment, Voyeurism and Reflexive

Positioning. Geoforum, 45, 348.


Roxyby, P. (2017). Signs of breast cancer explained, using lemons. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/health-38609625.


Southerton, D. (2011). Encyclopedia of Consumer Culture, Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, pp. 389-391.


Worldwidebreastcancer, (2017). Do you know your risk for breast cancer. Retrieved from https://www.worldwidebreastcancer.org/.





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