Archive for November, 2009

=0 CONSUMING KIDS

November 10, 2009

This video, in all its obvious bias was still successful in scaring me at least.  Who wouldn’t have been put off by the discovery that some marketers follow children into even the bathroom with a camera just for the sake of seeing reactions to products?  If nothing else caught my eye in this video it was the huge question of ethics and the actual need society has for advertisements and marketing.  Does the world really benefit from targeting of ads, and would we be any better off with the removal of such in your face encouragement to spend money to “be someone”?

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Needless to say it made me question my choice in major and minor.

I am not easily swayed by one-sided demonstrations because I use my own educated opinion and listen to the counter argument, but do not believe everything I am spoon fed media wise.  The video was an exception because although it had great bias, it was simply revealing facts.  These facts once brought to my knowledge actually made me cringe at the career I was setting out for.  Do I really want to be a contributor to mindless “clutter” out there in the world that people are inevitably exposed to everyday? Aside from that, isn’t there something better all these people could be doing with all this time and money than studying the pupil dilation (and therefore, positive reaction) to a product?

I did see a positive way to be a marketer or part of the advertising process and that is incorporating good values in advertisements instead of the trashy shallow ploys that some children’s’ products companies take part in.  The most obscene product I would say are directed at young girls are the Bratz dolls and I find them to be a huge presence in multi media advertising towards children.

I was not surprised at all to see them mentioned in the video because even as a woman, I am not easily offended by stereotypes some dolls enforce nor am I one to read to heavily into the messages a product could send.  Their message, however, is just too obvious and discriminating to avoid.

The company, as so many others in the video, claims by its name alone that these dolls are stuck up and spoiled rotten concerned only with material goods and scandalous and skimpy ones at that.  At least Barbie had professions and other venues for integrity rather than just her “club attire”.  These in your face targets I already knew, but the others raised in Consuming Kids has really opened my eyes to the importance of RESPONSIBLE MARKETING and understanding the consequences one simple commercial or even brand logo could create.

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RED has never looked so good

November 6, 2009

When people used to think of the color red they may have thought about blood, anger, seduction or some other negative connotation.  Thanks to a very clever ad campaign, however, people now think hope.  The (RED) campaign is a multi-company global attempt to both increase sales for certain sponsors and a greater attempt to raise funds and awareness about the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

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For every product under sponsorship by the RED companies, the AIDS preventions and HIV testing sites in Africa and globally earn money and a percentage of the sales.  The ad campaign has been an incredible success in both stirring up discussion, and, therefore, publicity about the seriousness of AIDS and the happenings of Africa.  On top of this, the sponsors have seen a rise in popularity, as this campaign is both a wise advertisement decision, but also a great public relations attempt.  The consumers may now associate such sponsors as Dell, GAP, Apple, Starbucks, American Express and Converse with humanity and charity.  The companies are no longer huge corporations, but also do-gooders.  This is an example of the disassociation principle in its prime.

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The sponsors are gaining sales for items that consumers may have once overlooked too.  Personally, I do not know how well bright red shirts with plain white writing would have sold for $25 each unless they had been directed toward such a charity. Instead, because GAP chose to take part in the campaign, they have gained celebrity for such plain shirts.

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I have the same “Inspi (RED)” shirt as Katy Perry thanks to this campaign.  Consumers associate all the forms of media and persuasion tactics the sponsors have employed with the cause.

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The RED campaign makes use of print ads in magazines, such as Cosmo Girl and Teen Vogue as they know that teenagers and young adults are the most likely to respond quickly to such a trend.  For once, however, this trend that is being targeted so hard at the youth of America is actually for the better of society.  There are also frequent commercials on such stations as MTV with celebrity speakers and endorsers such as Katy Perry and Common.  The commercials air in more frequent increments during the month of December as it is National AIDS Month, and they gain even more attention.  The campaigners were very crafty in choosing multiple media methods for reaching audiences, but also these varied persuasion techniques, which are usually put effort into a mere corporate incentive.  It is great to see such efforts being put to use for good, and actually succeeding day by day.

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The merchandise that is bought actually further promotes the campaign as it has the infamous RED logo on every piece.  There are computers with the RED logo and color printed on them, sneakers of the bright red color, and even RED iPods of the logo and color displaying the RED commercials and print ads on them when purchased from Apple. This was also a clever and conscious decision by advertisers as it is a new form of media.  Promotion by simply wearing or using the good seems ingenious.  The African people, according to the RED site, have profited off of the sales with new forms of medical treatment and testing for citizens, and also cleansing their water and environment in hopes of a better health for tomorrow.

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The site illustrates billboards, some print ads, and celebrity sponsors of the campaign.  The site itself is also an interactive media the campaign makes use of to educate consumers.  The merchandise in itself promotes awareness and sales, and the clean and recognizable printed logo proves to be great tactics for increased attention.  Such a campaign is the epitome of multi media methods of targeting an audience.  What better cause than of that of AIDS awareness to be the source of these great campaign tactics.

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Anne writes her story, the world reads

November 6, 2009

The Diary of Anne Frank is obviously one of the most compelling memoirs and influential books of the 20th century, but it was much more personal for me when I read it while I was just in 6th grade.  I remember distinctly that the book was an assigned reading, and although chapters were assigned for certain nights, I wouldn’t follow that schedule.  Instead, I found Anne’s story so compelling I read a greater portion of it in one night.

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I was so interested I went looking for other assignments I could do to relate some version of movie or article covering the diary and the Franks’ story.  I can honestly recall asking my science teacher if I could do a research paper relating to some of the topics and questions Anne asked in her diary.

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In that same year after reading the diary from cover to cover more than twice, I bought two different versions at our school bookstore, and also special books from people who knew Anne Frank or people who experienced similar situations during the same time period, and I watched every History Channel piece that covered anything having to do with the 1930s and 1940s.

The non-fiction work was a masterpiece.  It didn’t matter that she was a preteen or young adult who did not have the most professional writing experience or that she was highly biased in her writing.  In fact, this is what I believe made it so compelling.  The book covered all the awkward, random questions and observations a young person has about the world around them.  She even addressed the comprehension of why adults act the way they do.  Her style was so personal it is easy to see why her father was hesitant about publishing some of the pages as they covered detailed fantasies and hasty accusations Anne had.

The book is definitely most known for its coverage of a secret life during the critical Holocaust and the times of WWII from Holland to Germany.  However, the conversations that I most often had about the book were of Anne’s maturity and understanding of the world, despite her isolation from it.  Someone who admits time and time again in the diary that she is “immature” is actually much more mature than she gives herself credit for.  It is incredible that her writing was impressive enough to sell millions of copies without even being alive to see the fruits of her labor.  She was definitely on the right track in desiring to be a writer.  She constantly acknowledges the fact that people are too quick to judge others, and she illustrates her own misjudgments of the people whom she has spent years cooped up with in the attic.

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Her story brings to light the dramatic times of the Holocaust and the ignorance that even people living in Germany had to the happenings of the Nazis.  The work to this day makes me challenge what is going on behind citizens’ eyes.  It also makes me remember the importance of giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, and realizing that my situation no matter how severe could always be worse.  If Anne Frank could address these all while in hiding, I know that any young person can take away the same understanding after reading the diary. Her work made me mature and come to terms with heartache and issues in the world, while appreciating my childhood.  I would recommend anyone read her story, and not just because it is assigned.  Anne’s diary is a type of book that makes reading fun and shouldn’t be taken in just as memorization for a quiz or paper, but, rather, should be read for inspiration and insight.

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Some people may think her work is too private to be shared with the world, but her family clearly had the courage to share it with the world so others could benefit.  Ironically, the diary of occurrences that happened to a Jewish girl decades ago has been so universal.  I, myself, am not Jewish and still find the triumph compelling and not cliché at all.  She did not have a happy ending, nor did the people she gave the benefit of the doubt to deserve it, but this makes it all worthwhile in the end.  If she and her family amongst millions of other people went through these horrible experiences yesterday, the least we can all do is read and remember them and their stories today.

“Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.”- Anne Frank

If nothing else is taken away from her writing and story other than this, her work will not have been in vain.

Kanye New and Improved…Yes, Kanye even you have room for improvement!

November 6, 2009

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Just ask anyone and you will soon learn that I am a huge fan of Kanye West’s music, and probably the biggest critic of his behavior and personality.  He may be confident, but there is often a risk in being so much that it is seen as cocky.  For such a young man, he seems to think he is deserving of a title greater than the Beatles, and following in their steps, greater than Jesus? Well Kanye has said even more crazy and absurd things, claiming that he deserved the Best New Artist in 2004, and sporting himself as a poor loser and poor winner on more than one occasion.  He cannot seem to go anywhere without making a statement…usually about himself.  For once, though, Kanye made a statement heard across the nation this past month and it was actually about someone else.

I’m speaking, of course, about the VMA (MTV’s Video Music Award) 2009 controversy.  Kanye stood up in the middle of Taylor Swift winning “Best Music Video” and took her microphone away in the middle of her thank you speech.  He literally said that Beyonce should have won.

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The crowd was shocked, but then again maybe shocked isn’t the best choice of words seeing as how if I were to predicate from past statements who if anyone would do such a thing, I would guess Kanye.  This is the same man that after Hurricane Katrina had nothing else to address besides the lack of Bush administration action and did so by shouting to the world, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people”.  He just does not have the best reputation for being modest by any means nor does he ever admit he is wrong.  He takes pride in causing such scenes, and it makes me wonder if as a fan I should support him and caulk it up to “celebrity” and part of his “image” or, rather, make it a point to no longer encourage such action.  Regardless of what I have done, many others have boycotted his albums and have lost the willpower to excuse such annoying comments and rants.  Because of this, I see Kanye as my first subject in need of an image makeover.

As a public relations professional, first things first I would encourage Kanye to publically apologize to Taylor and the fans.  This apology could not simply be an “I’m sorry” appearing fake and forced, but, rather, a conscious showing of Kanye’s shame in the playback of the scene and that he is actually embarrassed for once.  Humility is the first step in this transformation.

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Another attempt to calm things with Taylor and her fans would be reaching out and acknowledging her talent.  He may even reach more fans than before by doing so, with the logic of any friend of Taylor’s is a potential friend of Kanye.  This would strongly deter from the current logic that anyone who likes Taylor Swift now hates Kanye West.  It seems that Kanye should reach out to her by asking her to collaborate in a certain work with him.  This would publicly acknowledge his appreciation for her singing and also encourage fans of both to see how well they could work together.  If Kanye could humble himself to share the stage with someone he once publicly demeaned, there may be a turn in opinions of him.

These would help his cause right now, but my campaign would require more long-term changes in image.  This would involve him no longer making such dramatic and controversial statements.  There would no longer be public comments about politics, but, rather, positive statements of encouragement to citizens.  I don’t want him to lose his edge, but, instead, try to be more marketable to the average person who may not be so liberal.  This is when I would need to focus on what the PRSA encourages.  I do not want Kanye to lie to his fans on his opinions, but just keep his more dramatic and edgy views personal.  He may need to conform to a less vocal individual if he hopes to change his image, but he will most likely find it is better to be loved and appreciated for his talent rather than his outbursts.

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He may also speak out just as much as once before, but in a positive manner rather than pointing out the negative aspects.  For example, the two scandals could have been avoided if he had simply mentioned how good Beyonce’s video was and how Obama’s campaign could do a lot to represent the minorities of America instead of his alternative; bashing Taylor Swift at the most horrible timing and previously stating, “Bush does not care about black people”.

Thus, my final attempt to encourage Kanye fans would be to have him promote things and people that he looks up to in such a way.  He could be a celebrity endorser for the Obama campaign and take steps accordingly to get people to vote or help the nation, but only after he improves his character personally because no citizen will want to support an insensitive and immature voice.  He could also collaborate and esteem such fellow artists as Beyonce while he glorifies the fact that he SUPPORTS other people.  Some people may not be fans of the potential “bland” image he may have after my campaign, but, publicly, more people think of Kanye as immature and too outspoken than as an insightful and strong icon currently.

Mickey Mouse: Harmless cartoon or the new public enemy?

November 6, 2009

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There are so many aspects of American culture that are so obviously shaped by media exposure.  From why we buy one vacuum cleaner over another, or buy one at all to why a little girl in a toy store wants a Barbie doll is the work of advertisements.

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These outcomes are to be expected, but why one child excludes another from class dress up because she is not like what the children see on television, in movies or even storybooks there is a serious problem.  Imagination is actually hindered by such values and images these media corporations throw out to children and parents alike.   For one thing, children are not forced to expand their understanding of the world based on their own intrigue and observations of real life, and, rather what is portrayed through fiction and understood to be “real”.

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Disney is one of the main contributors to this problem, and parents are just as guilty for not educating their kids of the actual harm that strictly Disney exposure can inflict.  Honestly, Disney means well and does teach amazing morals to children about accepting people for who they are, overcoming fears and insecurities, never giving up, respect for elders and many more that I know I personally remember learning from Lion King alone.

Watching Disney was like a family event and very rarely was I left alone watching nothing but these things for hours on end, but, instead, my parents were there watching my sparked curiosity and the way I reacted right after a film or television show or book was finished.  It became an activity to portray just what I had seen previously and some of my fondest childhood memories from age 4 to even 11 were associated with some sort of rendition of a Disney movie.  My entire room was decorated in Lion King accessories at one point, I had a princess life size playmate to act out Beauty and the Beast, and I had the soundtracks to all the classics.

 

While I understood this was make believe, my peers did not always pick up on that.  How many times have you seen a child quote or act verbatim as what is seen in the movies?  Well, certain children really did outcast others because they were not girly enough or did not have the right color hair or skin to act as that princess.  This actually limits the child’s imagination and enforces only what Disney wants the audience to get out of their films and products.

Wall-E was a prime example of how today Disney is more of a corporation and political messenger than a “family”.  There were underlying themes of lazy America and that trash production will be the death of our nation and world.  Regardless of if this is true, the message was distracting as an older viewer, and left little development in the plot otherwise, so by the end of the movie the younger viewers really only understood a small portion of the two hour movie.  Still, Disney’s message was received and they were able to incorporate the profitable, yet shallow “formula” of all their movies; cute big-eyed characters that will look good on merchandise and make the audience say, “aw”

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I would love to go back to simple classics where if the formula were used or a message was conveyed it was at least in behalf of fantasy and fairy tales, which parents could easily monitor and learn to use for the better of their child.  Instead Disney holds a reputation of an overbearing presence of a corporation ruling the story lines and youth of America.