Thursday, August 10, 2017

BLOG PROJECT #2: TELEVISION SHOW "THE SINNER"


I'm definitely not one for watching much television. If you tried to make small talk with me in regards to the most recent episode of whatever show aired last night, I would have absolutely no idea what you were talking about. Every once in a while, though, I hear about a show that creates controversy. That controversy never fails to spark my interest. Thus, my discovery of The Sinner. 

The Sinner is the newest murder-mystery drama to hit television. Based on the novel by Petra Hammesfahr, The Sinner is an 8 episode, close-ended series that premiered August 2, 2017, with a new episode airing every Wednesday during prime time on the USA network.

Starring Jessica Biel as Corra Tannetti, a young mother and wife who, while spending the day at the beach with her family, randomly attacks and kills a man she has never seen before that day. Why? She simply does not know. When her motives are questioned by Detective Harry Ambrose, played by Bill Pullman, her unknowing motive intrigues him to investigate further. 

 If any of you remember Jessica Biel in the hit series 7th Heaven, I'm sure you have fallen in love with the girl next door. She has had roles in many T.V. shows and movies, and won numerous awards. But these last few years she has been out of the mainstream spotlight. Where did Jessica Biel go??? Starting in 2013, she has switched from big roles to independent films. The Sinner is a perfect example of this. The Sinner first premiered during the TriBeCa Film Festival.

Jessica Biel also did a change of pace for this series. Instead of her typical roles, she went with a more real world character. Cora Tannetti portrays a realistic mother, one that appears to be stressed with everyday life tasks. This is evident in the trailer that can be watched at YouTube. I believe this catches the attention of the intended audience, every day mothers. Hollywoodreporter.com describes the show as "the story of Cora (Jessica Biel), a young other having troubles sleeping and generally ill at ease with the world around her." 

If you paid attention to the ads during the show, you will see products from Subaru, Tide, Walmart , and Dove.  It is justifiable to come to the conclusion that the every day mom is who is targeted as an audience.

As stated by Vulture.com, "In a TV era increasingly definde by trauma and violence, The Sinner still stands out." (The full review can be read at vulture.com.) I believe it stands out so well because of the aspect used by the writer. This show portrays a whydunit question instead of a whodunit like the typical murder mysteries. The audience is not kept in suspense as to who committed the murder, due to the confession in the very first episode. Instead, we are left wondering why.

As you can see, this young mother is clearly stressed. Background information into the upbringing of Cora is also provided for the audience. Clearly the childhood of this woman was a peculiar one, and one that may give insight into a possible mental illness of the young mother. A present mental illness might lead viewers into stereotyping all people with a mental illness. It would portray a mentally ill person as unstable, able to snap at any moment. One might also conclude that even the most unexpected, every day people can unknowingly bear these types of medical problems.

None the less, the show portrays many strengths. I believe it brings a new spin on murder mysteries, therefore intriguing audiences and leaving people wanting to know more. It also examines a subject that doesn't seem to be well portrayed, which is the stresses of every day women. With the strengths comes weaknesses. It's gruesome act of violence has left people in awe. One review, given by Thrillest.com states, "Calling The Sinner uncomfortable is an understatement," along with stating the murder scene as "downright disturbing." Not just the violent murder scene is under scrutiny. Some critics are saying that Jessica Biel's mystery is "too flawed." However, I believe that right when you think you can predict what is going to happen, the show takes a turn.

All in all, I'm definitely a fan of this new style of TV show. It's perspective is definitely something I haven't seen before. It is also very easy to relate to, no matter how scary that may seem! As far as the gruesome murder, what TV show, or even movie, doesn't display graphic scenes? Check it out for yourself and either be on the edge of your seat waiting for next weeks' episode, or be horrified.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

FAKE NEWS

     What is the definition of "fake news?" Is there one, or is it all just a matter of opinion? The Merriam-Webster article titled "The Real Story of Fake News" reads "Fake news is frequently used to describe a political story which is seen as damaging to an agency, entity, or person." If that is true, there's a ton of news stories that can be considered "fake news." If you look into the definition of "fake news" at Webopedia.com, they state the definition as "Fake news, or hoax news, refers to false information or propaganda published under the guise of being authentic news." With that being said, there's clearly some confusion among the population.
     I consider "fake news" to be that to which is not true, or a hoax. Either way, the information provided is not accurate. Whether it be from bad reporting or a complete lie, is not terribly relevant.
     When I hear President Trump label news companies or news stories as "fake news" I don't pay much attention. Mostly because the term "fake news" is not clearly defined. Besides the definition, everyone has their own opinion. I do believe it is more damaging for an influential leader to be stating such accusations without proof though, Do I believe stories are intentionally reported inaccurately? No I do not. Reporters are humans, and they, too, make mistakes. Unfortunately with limited resources and limited time, stories are shortened and not all the information is broadcast.
    Regardless of what the true meaning of "fake news" I do believe that President Trump is not helping the country with his opinions. I believe this because he is not doing it in a professional manner. I also believe that, just because he disagrees with what is being broadcast that it should be retracted. That is doing a disservice to Americans and the freedom of speech. With that being said, he is an American citizen and has every right to his own opinion, no matter how unprofessional he portrays it.

NEWS

     I've never really thought about where I get my news. I guess I don't follow too much of the news, whether it be local, national, or world news. With scandals that range from CNN to FoxNews, it's very difficult to trust any news station or the information that they relay. I do like to hear about the news, though. I just don't always believe what I hear. It's sad, really, but that's just the world we live in nowadays.
     When I do like to look into what's going on locally, I usually see information on Facebook. Of course, I don't necessarily believe what I read, so I always check the internet for multiple sources. I pay attention to the details, and if the details from multiple sources match up. If they do, I will believe it. If they don't, I just won't believe the differing facts. Another source of news that I do trust is my parents. They are even more skeptical of what they hear or read then I am, so if they are informing me of something, I know they have done their research. Local news is interesting, but not really important to me. It usually is just about car accidents and crime, and I rather focus on more positive aspects of life.
     As the newspaper business is having more and more difficulty competing with shared online information, they have began to utilize paywalls and online subscriptions. Although I do not disagree with this, I choose not to participate. At best, I will answer a survey for a local newspaper to read an article from time to time. Even that becomes annoying real fast. I just prefer not to pay or answer surveys when I can get the news for free via the internet.
     Due to my lack of trust in the news sources and the refusal to pay for what I can obtain for free, I would have to say that I'm not too terribly informed on the news. On a scale from 1 to 5 (5 being the most informed), I would say I'm a 2 or 3. I like to know what's going on worldwide politically, but I don't care much for crime stories or things of the such. It don't find it too terribly important to stay up to date locally (maybe because I live in a smaller town where not a whole lot happens...?) but I do think it's important to know what's going on with our government. Political news is very important for everyone to know. Especially when there's such high tension between our country and others.

WIKILEAKS

     Freedom of speech... A concept that seems so simple. However, with the advancements in technology and the widespread of information, it has become such a complicated topic. Especially when it comes to politics. What should the general population have access to in regards to government documents? Is it in the people's best interest to know what the government is doing? Wikileaks believes everyone has the right to know the truth.
     My personal opinion is that yes, we do deserve to know what is happening. Sure, this might cause panic among the people. Panic is inevitable. Natural disaster? Panic! Terrorist attack? Panic! There is absolutely no way to prevent panic in every single scenario, so why should we receive filtered information for the sake of preventing panic?
     Unfiltered news is also very crucial when it comes to governing our governments. If our leaders are hiding information, it's time to ask ourselves why. Yes, I believe there's obviously information that needs to be kept classified for national security purposes. This type of information is not what I'm referring to. If we do not govern our leaders, if we do not know certain facts to make our own decisions, then how do we know we are being led in a moral direction? Examine the facts of WW2 and the genocide of the Jews. They did not question what their leaders decisions, they just did as they were told. If they had stopped and observed the facts, if they had stopped to examine why they were being told to do the things they were, they might have fought back and saved unimaginable numbers of people.
     Another common issue we see with freedom of speech is the use of other people's work. Or using other people's creations to create a piece of art of your own. This is a huge issue legally. What is allowed? Why is it or is it not? Why? Have we not been using other's creations to create our own all throughout history? The invention of the steam engine is a perfect example. It started with Heron. From there, Papin made some modifications. Then Torricelli, Newcomen, and finally Watt. They all took the idea before them and improved it. Did anybody complain about theft of information? Nope.
     I see no issue with taking something and modifying it into our own creation. You are transforming it into something new. Another reason I believe this is because we use other's information to create research papers, blogs, etc. As long as we cite our sources, there's no issue. Why can we not do this for everything we create? Make a mashup, cite the artist. Quote someone, cite the author. They are still getting credit for their work. Or is it all about the money?
     In the end, what is the point of sharing information if we cannot use that information?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

MARMOT'S FIRST SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL

     It doesn't matter if you are a sports fan. It doesn't matter if you watch the NFL. Every February I guarantee you have heard about at least one of the most sought out advertising spaces there is.... The infamous Super Bowl commercials.
     Super Bowl 2016 aired 62 commercials from 53 different advertisers to 112 million viewers. For the first time in history, Marmot, an outdoor equipment and apparel company, aired a 5 million dollar super bowl commercial. This will also be the introduction to their new mascot... a fuzzy little marmot, that is implied to be male (see the teaser advertisement below, titled "Meet the Marmot Soon: Aah").


    This commercial, along with the advertising campaign that it kicked off, caught my attention for several reasons. For starters, I'm an avid outdoor enthusiast working towards a degree in business and marketing. I would one day hope to work for an outdoor equipment company. Marmot is a brand that I am already familiar with, so naturally I am interested in their advertisements. What really sparked my interest on this particular commercial was the controversy surrounding it, the way in which they introduced their mascot, and the approach they used to change their desired audience.

     Along with the teaser above, Marmot released two more teasers:


     The one above, titled "Meet the Marmot Soon: Campfire," and the one below, "Meet the Marmot Soon: Angels."


     It seemed that, between the teasers and Marmot's Super Bowl debut, audiences everywhere were excited to see what Marmot would present. They would soon be... very confused.



     The 30 second 5 million dollar commercial (which was more then their entire budget for advertising the previous year) followed the story of a man and his marmot friend on a camping trip. It begins with the friends climbing out of their matching Marmot tents first thing in the morning, to realize they are wearing matching Marmot coats. The song "Friends" by Flight of the Conchords begins to play, which coincides perfectly with the theme of the commercial. As the story continues, the friends do outdoor activities together, such as hiking, swimming and roasting marshmallows. They even make pine needle angels together (as shown in the teaser). Nothing too unusual, other then one being a marmot, of course. The ad ends with the pair watching a sunset.... That's when the story line goes off the beaten path. The man leans over to kiss the marmot... that's when he is slapped and told "I'm not that kind of marmot." Marmot then presents their new advertising slogan "Fall in Love with the Outside."
     The ad in its Super Bowl (February 7, 2016) debut entirety lasted 30 confusing seconds. However, Marmot originally made the ad to play for a full minute. The full commercial adds fishing to the activities the friends participate in. It also includes the teaser clip "Meet the Marmot: Aah," to which it is insinuated that the marmot is a male. It is the ending that added to the confusion of the viewers even more. As if you thought that wasn't possible! The story takes a turn when the man tries to kiss the marmot. The marmot still slaps the man, however he says "What the...." and begins kissing the man back. You then see a lot of confused wildlife, such as deer, bears and owls. When the camera goes back to the man and marmot watching the sunset, there's a woman and her daughter looking disgusted and surprised, staring at the friends. This is the way in which Marmot chose to kick off their ad campaign "Fall in Love with the Outside Road Tour."



     Typically I would say that the "plain folks" persuasive technique was used in this commercial. However, I'm not sure that a rodent kissing man is considered to be a normal, every day person... I do know, though, that there is a storytelling technique utilized. There's a story of a man and his friend and their outdoor experience that led to....love? I believe that this technique would have been more effectively utilized if it had not involved bestiality. 

     If Marmot was going for a different approach then other companies, they definitely accomplished their goal. It is safe to say that consumers had not yet seen advertisement like this before! In 2013, Geico released a commercial that created an uproar in regards to bestiality, but it was less.... hands on. Here is that commercial:

 

There were two main disturbances with the Super Bowl ad that Marmot aired: does it promote bestiality, and is it "one long no-homo joke," as stated by the Washington Post? The reviews show that there is mixed feelings between viewers, but we will get into that later in this post.
    The goal of the "Fall in Love with the Outside" campaign was to reach more mainstream retail shoppers (Marmot had a 4% decline in net sales last year). The focus was on simple pleasures in the outdoors versus big adventures. This would reach a whole new demographic. To bring sales back up, the company was attempting to appeal to people who enjoy simple pleasures in the outdoors such as fishing, swimming, hiking, and camping. Not just consumers who go on big adventures, such as backpacking, rock climbing, mountain biking, tight rope walking, etc. This would help Marmot to expand its shares in mainstream retail and change its focus on the lower income demographics. This commercial shifted the company's focus from the extreme adventurers to encouraging people to just get outdoors and fall in love with it.

     The ad presents a strong change in demographics. Adventure Journal posted the commercial on their Facebook page, receiving a comment from one consumer stating "I just simply thought I am no longer their demographic." It shows consumers that, although Marmot is a name brand, they don't just cater to the extreme adventurer, but everyday people. Whether it be a simple camping trip with swimming and fishing, or backpacking into the unknown, Marmot has a product for you! Because of this, and the odd, yet humorous, tactic used, this did engage younger, lower income consumers that I believe was the target audience. The downfall to this ad is that it creates great confusion among its viewers. Sure, the ad shows that Marmot is an outdoor apparel and equipment company, but I think viewers don't understand the point in showing a man kissing a rodent, even if it is his friend. If Marmot was going for a shock factor to make the commercial memorable and talked about, they accomplished their goal! According to adweek.com, tracking technology provided data showing that the ad was the second most engaged ad of the Super Bowl at about 88% engagement, which rated higher then 98.5% of the ads shown. 

     In addition to the Super Bowl commercial kicking off the campaign "Fall in Love with the Outside Road Tour," Marmot has utilized social media to bring in consumers. The Road Tour presents tent pitching contests, in store events, an insider's guide to every national park in America, live music, craft beer, and meaningful conversations about health benefits of getting outside, even if it's just in your backyard. The campaign is also raising money to help maintain local trails for future generations. All tour dates and stops are announced via Twitter and Facebook for all to see. Social media has also assisted in the spread of the first ever Super Bowl Marmot commercial, with millions of media posts and tweets. On The Mountaineers tweet in regards to the interesting sales pitch, one follower tweeted "Ummmm amazing. Nothing shy of genius."
     Besides social media outlets, there's plenty of discussion about the controversial advertising move. People either seem to love it or hate it, but never in between:

The Memphis Daily News reports "This Super Bowl rookie stole the show..." and "Marmot wins on it's storytelling abilities, how well it connects with consumers, how memorable the spot is and the clarity with which it communicates what it sells."

While Forbes.com states "Puzzled viewers probably won't be running out in the cold to buy an outdoor jacket after that."

The Chicago Tribune and Washington Post ranked Marmot's advertising technique as one of the worst ads, while The Oregonian dubbed it one of the best.


Performics.com claims "Marmot was one of the few Super Bowl advertiser brand keywords that broke into Google's top 20 searches during or directly after the game."

Tvline.com displayed pole results for Marmot's unique advertising strategy as follows:
  • Awesome      20.55%
  • Very Good    28.24%
  • It was OK     28.85%
  • Subpar          10.82%
  • Fail               11.54%
     Based off the ad, I would probably not check out the company and all it has to offer. Sure, they offer outdoor equipment and apparel for those that like the simple outdoor activities. Unfortunately, that just doesn't make me want to jump up and see what exactly they have to offer. I wouldn't recommend the brand to others either. On the flip side, I wouldn't tell them not to check it out. In the end, though, I have shown the ad to people. Marmot has that going for them at least.

     Based off Marmot's unusual choice of advertising techniques, I've drawn the conclusion that going with a memorable commercial does in fact add more advertising. If you didn't watch the Super Bowl and see the commercial air, it's okay because I'm sure somewhere, somehow, you either saw it or heard about it anyways.
     I've learned a lot from examining this particular marketing strategy. There are many ways to get your name or product out there to people that probably wouldn't have heard about what you have to offer. Even if it is a controversial choice of advertising, in the end, consumers will hear your name. That, in itself, is advertisement. 
     When I took a closer look at marketing techniques and specific advertisement strategies, I found myself looking at every companies commercials in a whole new light. Who would've thought about how the ads we see are created, or why? I sure didn't! I find myself wondering how I can market a product or a company name differently then how they chose to. Maybe that's just because of the career path I have chosen for myself. Maybe it's because I'm curious to see what I, myself, could come up with. In the end, the challenge is accepted....

Below are a few links to blogs that spoke of Marmot's fascinating advertisement techniques:







  






   

Thursday, July 13, 2017

PERSUASIVE TECHNIQUES OF ADVERTISING


The two ads I chose to review are (the first) a Patagonia ad. The second one is an advertisement for a shake weight (yes I actually did watch this recently).

The Patagonia ad shows the kind of activities that people who use Patagonia products participate in, and the amazing places they explore. In this ad, there is also Patagonia products displayed. What stood out to me is that they show the types of activities that their products are used in. Patagonia makes outdoor gear, and outdoor activities should be used to advertise that type of gear. The audience they are targeting are outdoor enthusiasts, therefore they need to show outdoor activities like they did. This ad displays the association principle technique for this reason. I believe this technique is very effective in this ad. People who are in need of outdoor gear want to see video clips of the places they want to be and situations where outdoor gear is necessary.

The ad for the shake weight displays a muscle toned man using the shake weight to work out. What stood out to me was how unrealistic the product is. Especially to obtain a body with that much muscle. The makers of the Shake Weight are targeting anyone who is looking to get more muscle tone by not having to go to the gym. I would most associate this advertisement with a plain-folks pitch. It's so easy, anyone can do it type of pitch. For me, this advertisement did not work. The whole concept doesn't make sense to me. It's not that easy to get a toned body and especially not from just shaking something around while looking ridiculous.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND ADVERTISING

     I've decided since Facebook is, what I believe to be, one of the most popular social networking sites, that I would use it for this advertising evaluation experiment. I am an avid outdoor explorer, and one of my favorite brands is Patagonia. So I started my search for Patagonia's Facebook page.
     The first thing I notice when I view Patagonia's Facebook page, is that they use social networking for advertising. Instantly I see ads for sleeping bags. That's pretty much expected when you look at a brand's page. No big surprise.
     As I begin to explore this page, I notice there's videos posted on their timeline. Coincidentally, these videos are sponsored by Patagonia. None the less, these videos showcase what Patagonia is all about... outdoor exploration.
      Patagonia also uses social media to show appreciation to their customers. For example: there's a post asking customers of Patagonia sleeping bags to share their pictures of themselves in their sleeping bags. This also is a way of encouraging their followers to interact with them, while also advertising the sale of their product to people just like you and me.
     I believe that using a social media network is a genius idea for Patagonia or any brand. They aim to target anyone who has a love for the outdoors. Anything outdoors. Everything outdoors. I believe this is very effective for advertising. The fact that there's 1,007,995 people that like their page, and 994,200 people currently following status updates, speaks for itself. Every time someone "likes" the page, that persons friends see it in their news feed. If they are unaware of what Patagonia represents, they might look into it. If they are aware of what Patagonia is all about, they just might go check out their page and see what's going on in the outdoor adventure world. Every person that visits the page will see advertising for Patagonia products.
     Patagonia does a great job at using social media as part of their advertising campaign. With that being said, there are some improvements that I believe would better promote their products. I would recommend more contests to where followers could win Patagonia products. They aren't cheap, so it would be nice to be able to win a product to test out. Another suggestion I would make would be to have more videos on product reviews. Q&A's would also be very helpful. As a consumer, and not financially well endowed, I would like to see what other consumers think about specific Patagonia products. Nobody wants to spend a ton of money on a product just to get home and realize it was a complete waste.