Friday, December 08, 2006

Blogging 101

I was never much a fan of a diary or journal (whatever you would like to call it) because I would get upset when I did not update every single thing that happened to me. Blogger is a journal that provides an easy alternative to writing in a traditional notepad. My first introduction to this technology was in the process of writing our first blog posts about ourselves. Shortly thereafter we deleted this "faux" post but the use of the medium was very intriguing. Since that time, I have come to learn to use Blogger as if I have been using it to record my every thought for the past two years. Along with my introduction to Blogging, was introduction to the advertising medium through my internship at Deutsch LA.

Being the indecisive, overly enthusiastic individual that I am, I like to jump at all opportunities at once, without deciphering which one would provide the greatest outcome. In this case I decided to apply for an internship in a medium which I knew little about: Advertising. I understood the very basics of the profession, as I completed an Introductory Course on Advertising last fall, but the intricacies and the overall knowledge that others possess about their passionate career I lacked due to a late pursuit. That said, the research which I had to complete in order to discuss issues within Advertising intelligently was quite intensive but very rewarding. It was a crash course in what I want to do with the rest of my life, or at least for the next couple years of it. In the use of Blog, I realized just how much different aspects of Advertising are connected to almost every product and brand.

The use of Blogger opened my eyes to a new way of expression which is broadcasted to a large audience. In using this program I feel like I did a good job of finding information which was pertinent to the profession while also providing informative yet entertaining insight into the subject matter. One of the areas which I will have to work on is being a little more exacting with my time managing skills. Although I believe the articles I have written have fulfilled their purpose, sometimes they do not answer all of the questions which are posed. There is also a lack of fluid continuity between all of the paragraphs. Overall, my performance would be considered good but not excellent because it answered all of the questions but did not go over what was expected.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

silhouette, ipod, background: inside the mind of Susan Alinsangan

"In bestowing an honorary degree, a university makes an explicit statement to its students and the world about the qualities of character and attainment it admires most.” This quote by James O. Freedman in his book, Liberal Education and the Public Interest, explores the obvious yet true significance of an honorary degree. This scholarly tradition began very early in the 17th or 18th century by Harvard University and has since been adopted by many universities throughout America. Of course, each university has different criterion for the delegation of the degree but because the reputation of the university is highly affected by the delegates, careful consideration must be taken to ensure the individual is worthy of such an honor. Discrimination upon religious affiliation, gender and race are no longer issues as universities have opened the eligibility to all individuals provided they fulfill moral and educational criteria. The University of Southern California uses many specific methods in order to ensure the successful integration of the honorand into the Trojan Family.

One of the most widely known facts about the University of Southern California is the concept of the Trojan Family. It is this idea which permeates into all aspects of life at the university and therefore greatly affects who may be eligible for an honorary degree. In order to maintain the consistency of the Trojan Family, only individuals within the family may nominate others for an honorary degree. It is this restriction which ensures that future family members actually posses the qualities of true Trojan graduate. Along with precautions taken in nominating an individual for the degree, the actual adjudication of the individual is executed by an Honorary Degree Committee comprised of individuals in various fields who are “particularly interested in candidates from diverse backgrounds, and whose own accomplishments might serve to highlight areas in which the University has developed exceptional strength.” This process is very effective in applying both the underlying and obvious qualities of a Trojan in the decision process. One of the main features which the committee must weigh is the ability of the honorand to further the university’s mission in: “...the development of human beings and society as a whole through the cultivation and enrichment of the human mind and spirit.” The qualities of the recipient must mirror those which all USC students are expected to attain before graduation: faithful, scholarly, skillful, courageous, and ambitious.

One individual who possesses the qualities set forth by the University and also possesses quite a diverse background is Susan Alinsangan. A revolutionary woman in the world of advertising, Susan’s work with Chiat/Day inspired the manner in which products are now being advertised. Instead of focusing on how much an individual needs a product, Susan’s creativity has produced campaigns in which the consumer feels as if they need the products or brand and thus purchase them. As a child, Susan was constantly exposed to new environments and cultures which were induced by her father’s career in the military. The lifestyle which resulted very much shapes how Susan creates and thinks today. Although the name Susan Alinsangan may not immediately stand out among such names such as Bill Gates or Madonna, the work she does is by no means less important or influential. Susan’s objective as Art Director can be compared to the creative duties of an architect. She must conceptualize the creative concept of the campaign into a house plan which will then be built by smaller teams within the advertising agency and ensure that the house is built to code. As one can tell, without the overarching duties of an Art Director such as Susan Alinsangan, the campaign would not be completed. In every aspect of her professional and personal life, Susan maintains the qualities which the University of Southern California instills within each student and employee. One of the more subtle qualities which Susan possesses within her realm of advertising is faith not only to her career but also within her personal life. Although she recently decided to work as freelancer, it is her faith in her success which allows her to make such bold move without fear of failure. It is also to be noted that in her eleven year vocation at the agency, her full confidence was within the company and the work they produced. This specifically can be seen in the path she took to obtain the high-level position as Art Director. Susan began her calling as a lower level creative team member but continued to impress the staff. After much recognition of her hard work and dedication to the company through promotions, she finally attained the title Art Director. Without her continual devotion in the company and herself, she would not have gained the success she has today. It is this hard work and dedication to one company which demonstrates her faithful qualities which are very indicative of a USC graduate.Susan Alinsangan is not only a hard worker whom uses her childhood as a starting point in her work ethic but her knowledge of diverse cultures and civilizations allows Susan to view concepts and ideas from a view outside of the normal American perspective. This innovative technique allows her conceptions to be unique, crisp and effective almost every single time. Susan’s “think different” campaign for Macintosh was quite risky at the time of it’s inception in its use of images of famous artists, writers, athletes and visionaries with the recognizable bitten apple symbol which has come synonymous with Macintosh. By using influential visionaries such as Einstein, Susan Alinsangan used her scholarly background and techniques to form a campaign which permanently elevated the success of Macintosh in a rather intelligent manner. This use of influential images demonstrates Susan Alinsangan’s ability to not only effectively advertise and target audiences but the ability to do so while educating the public in intellectual matters.

A quite successful campaign which Susan skillfully created is the famous “silhouette” campaign for a subsidiary of Macintosh, the ipod. Almost every single person nationally is familiar with the ipod creative campaign which contains a bright colored background, a blacked out silhouette of a dancer in an extravagant pose, and an ipod shaded in bright white. The concept itself may seem incredibly simple but it is the simplicity of it all that attracts such attention. From TV commercials, to billboards and posters all over the country, the campaign has gained popularity enough for individuals to spoof its successful run. What lies behind the success of the campaign is the unspoken message it promotes “have fun”. People observe the advertisements and have a sudden urge to purchase such a product because of the carefree and fluid lifestyle it promotes. Susan’s skill in creating an aesthetically pleasing campaign which effectively endorses a product surely reveals the skillful aspect of a USC graduate.While her career is a large portion of her life, her personal life does take precedence and in that regard she has much courage and ambition in being both a mother and an Art Director of such a large and successful firm. This courage is also exhibited by her determination to gain such a prominent position despite the biases present in society against woman and other ethnicities. Regardless of the intolerance which she may have faced, her courage allowed to face this and become quite successful. In conjuction with her courage, Susan demonstrates a insatiable drive and vision within her career. Mike W. Martin discusses in his essay "Meaningful Work: Rethinking Professional Ethics,” that there is a doctrine of separate spheres with a distinction between the moral ideas connected with ones private life and the economic and self-interested values of professional life with few moral restrictions. A libertarian outlook upon this subject demonstrates that individuals will always "seek personal gain and not the good of others, certainly not the good of the wider public...self-seeking individuals benefit the community without intending, trying, or even wanting to do so." Susan is one of those individuals that recognize exactly what her job is and why she does it. It is not merely to impress her coworkers and others in her field (that is just a by-product) what her real goal is to make herself happy. As Susan stated in a recent interview posted on YouTube, "I don't mess around and I don't tolerate anybody else wasting my time...don't get in my way, you're either there to help me or you're there to get in my way." Susan knows what she wants and caters her job to those desires. After having children she realizes that the time she has to do work has drastically decreased therefore every second must be more efficient and managed well. The courage and ambition demonstrated by Susan’s personal and professional life truly mimic those qualities embedded in the hard-working graduates of USC.The true meaning behind the description of this very interesting figure head is one of relevant academic proceedings. It has become a tradition of many prestigious colleges to distribute honorary degrees to individuals which they feel have demonstrated in themselves the qualities that an alumnus/a possess. In the case of the University of Southern California, these qualities are outlined on the USC Honorary Degree Website. There have been many deserving recipients of this honor in the past and Susan is no exception. USC does not discount any creative or “out of the ordinary” individuals that are nominated as possible honorands. One of the main goals for the distribution of the degrees is “to honor individuals who have distinguished themselves through extraordinary achievements in scholarship, the professions, or other creative activities, whether or not they are widely known by the general public.” All recipients of this degree are expected to speak at Spring Commencement and therefore must have remarkable speech skills. There are four questions which must be answered when an application is received and placed before the Honorary Degree Committee:

· What is the specific content of the nominee's contribution?

· What is original about that contribution?

· Of all possible contributors to the field of endeavor, why is this nominee of exceptional merit?

· Why is the field of the nominee especially appropriate to USC?

Susan Alinsangan is prime candidate for this an honorary degree from USC in Fine Arts. Her work as artistic director for ipod significantly raised awareness of the product on a national level. Although it may be a simplistic campaign, it is the execution of the concept which provides a bold but straightforward approach to advertising which revolutionized ipod’s image into a household name. What these advertisements do is present a lifestyle. Instead of convincing the consumer that they need a specific product (in this case an ipod), these advertisements invoke emotion in the consumer which makes the consumer want to have an ipod. The use of dancers who are not typical conservative Americans or formally trained ballerinas, puts the consumer in the commercials. Also, the use of silhouettes makes the dancers less identifiable which furthers the consumers’ belief that they can be a part of the fun presented in the ad. To take it to the extreme, the ipod commercials demonstrate individuals who are not afraid to break loose and have fun and people wish they had that ability.

Susan is remarkable not only for her original ideas and creative talent but also for her drive and passion for her work. She is a mother but still manages to balance that lifestyle with the hectic schedule of work. After working for Chiat\Day for eleven years, she left to work freelance in order to ensure a schedule that is tailored to her daily activities. Her position before becoming a freelancer is a rather coveted job which requires much talent and knowledge in the field. What is remarkable is that Susan rose to that power from a graphic designer. She has received numerous awards and recognition of her work including: a Cannes Gold Lion, the Sweepstakes Belding, two Grand Effies and the Grand Kelly. Her hard work and motivation allowed her steady rise into a superior position within the company. Regardless of her stature at 4’11’’, she is a rather intimidating woman who is not afraid to use her power to her advantage. She sets her eyes on a goal and does everything in her power to execute that. It should also to be commended that she has been able to overcome any obstacles that may have presented themselves on her way to the top. She is not only a mother and an art director but also an avid photographer and uses her travels as an outlet for this leisure pursuit. She is also a very interesting speaker who uses tonal and contextual variations to capture the attention of the spectators. In being an art director, often times she has to pitch a creative campaign to the client and in doing so must convince the client to choose the campaign. This form of persuasive argument serves as a great background to provide an inspirational and entertaining speech.
The field of advertising is important in all areas of the country and most of the world and provides insight into the culture and lives of the society in which it is contained. The community of Los Angeles possesses a particular affinity to advertising because of Los Angeles lifestyle and obsession with culture. Throughout Los Angeles and the United States, billboards lie in abundance. So often they are looked over in the crowd of the interstate. What Susan Alinsangan did was revolutionize the way that individuals viewed advertisements and instead of forgetting the last billboard that one saw, people began to talk about the silhouette ads and thus beginning the cycle of the earliest forms of advertisement, word of mouth.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Interactive Websites: the new trend in advertising

The eerie screeching, groaning moans of a dial up modem bring chills to those who remember using or still use the very limited internet connectivity it provides. No one could have predictedthe functionality and dependence which many have developed upon the internet in the past thirty-seven years . With the dependence upon information available on the web, how does one differentiate between valid and invalid information? There are many methods by which persons are choosing more professional and legitimate websites, all of which are on the internet itself. For individuals seeking this type of information, both the WebAwards and the Webby Awards provide a great means of discovering the sites which have been evaluated and promoted by top professionals in internet related fields. Their mission is simple and effective. As posted on their website “The Web Marketing Association was founded in 1997 to help set a high standard for Internet marketing and web development on the World Wide Web. Staffed by volunteers, this organization is made up of Internet marketing, online advertising, PR, and web site design professionals who share an interest in improving the quality of online advertising, internet marketing, and website promotion.” With this motto, the organization scrutinizes many websites every year and of those sites, they give out awards which recognize excellence in many aspects.

One such website which survived the scrutiny of the WebAward’s grasp is one that goes by the alias of Geoterra. This site won a 2005 WebAward for Oustanding Acheivement in Website Development in the Advertising Industry. Even though it did withstand the standards of this respectable site, there are some slight errors which may have escaped the minds of its creators. The website is wonderfully decorated and interactive but the lack of content may make it seem almost juvenile. What the main takeaway is that although there is not as much textual content within the site as compared to others, the medium, target audience, and internet trends all prove that this type of site caters to the needs of the typical internet user and does not overwhelm the audience with too much text. Geoterra provides a comfortable, easily navigatible experience which effectively informs the audience without overstimulation. By combining pleasurable graphics and concise but sparse descriptive paragraphs, the site's design ideally targets the advertising medium and makes the visit enjoyable and informative.

Based upon the environmentally friendly products designed by General Electric, Geoterra promotes the ecomagination initiative. Although the ecomagination site is not a typical informational site, it does provide quite a bit of useful information through use of video mini-lectures by prominent members of the General Electric team. As demonstrated to the left, these figures come to life and explain the purpose of the initiative. The main goal is that they are "addressing the problems of tomorrow, today." In order to facilitate these goals many products were designed to effectively help financially stable individuals as well as aid communities where resources are very scarce. These products include a highly effective water filtration system and a highly efficient windmill energy source. This project is one which produces very real and attainable solutions to many of the problems in the world faces today and in doing so, it must be promoted in an effective and expansive manner.

Although Geoterra acquired it's award through the WebAward process, the Webby Awards judging criteria provide a more intensive set of guidelines which can more easily be applied to the site. The Webby Awards judging criteria are separated into three separate categories: Websites, Interactive Advertising, and Online Film and Video. Geoterra is a hybrid of both a website and an interactive advertising agent so therefore it will be judged from both perspectives. "Content is the information provided on the site. It is not just text, but music, sound, animation, or video -- anything that communicates a sites body of knowledge." Content, as described by the Webby Awards, ensures that a site has a voice of its own and is clear about what it is promoting. Geoterra accomplishes this goal by exuding a feeling from the very moment one enters the site. The soothing island music, friendly islander animations and island noises setup a certain perspective on the products being promoted. There is a laid back notion which makes the audience feel as if they are part of the experience and incorporates them into the island experience.Upon entrance on the island, the whole site is aimed at making the user feel like they are helping a greater cause while enjoying themselves at the same time. It plays upon human beings natural tendency to want to help people in need while also touching on the inner child in every person. By providing a relavant activity for each dilemma, Geoterra puts the product into context in the real world. An example of how Geoterra involves the user in a big way is the "Harness the Wind" dilemma to the right. For every dilemma, including this one, there is a mini description of how the product works and what it does to help the community become more efficient. The site does not just claim to be more efficient, it gives concrete numbers of households that can be powered determined by the number of windmills and the wind speed that the user picks. This inclusion principle is furthered by games that follow the interactive information session. Each product has a relavant game which uses the information learned in the mini description to help the community of Geoterra. Once an individual has played a game, they recieve points for how many levels they passed in the game. This score is then recorded at the bottom left of the screen in the purple Geoscore area. Users are urged to save their score and return to the website at a later time to increase the score. This process is a great means by which Geoterra attains their return vistors.

Another means by which the Webby Awards evaluates a website is based upon the Structure and Navigation. When observing a site, the Webby Awards criteria insist that "good navigation gets you where you want to go quickly and offers easy access to the breadth and depth of the site's content." Geoterra is a very simple website but in that design, it provides a very easily navigated. The index page of the site is a very aesthetically pleasing island which consists of blue rain drop links and a quick link menu at the bottom left corner. The blue rain drops with the exclamation point within them denote an activity/product that is being promoted. All five of those rain drop activities also have a quick link at the bottom of the page. There are two ways to get to the same mini-site therefore allowing the user easy and convenient access to all aspects of hte site. Once a user clicks either one of the quick links or a rain drop, a bubble page appears on the screen where the next mini description appears. Within this bubble, the options are very simple: one can continue to the game associated with the product, go back to the main page by clicking back or by clicking the "X" in the top right corner of the mini-page. Geoterra provides multiple ways to do the same thing because they want to be as easily explorable as possible.

Another criterion emphasized in the judging criteria of the Webby Awards is the Visual Design aspect of a website. As written in the criteria, "Good visual design is high quality, appropriate, and relevant for the audience and the message it is supporting." Geoterra continues its island/environment theme within the visual design as well by incorporating all of the graphic design within the island. The colors are very calming and not too bright and the moving graphics all are within the surface of the island. There is a consistent style to the all of the images on the site and it is this cohesive element which allows the user to navigate freely without distraction of obnoxious graphics which may try influence the user to navigate elsewhere. The lack of flashy media is consistent with the calm and relaxed feel of the site and urges the user to explore the site how they so choose.

Another rather important aspect of a site which also fits into the Webby Awards judging criteria is that of Functionality. Although it is a wonderfully aesthetic, effective and provacative site, Geoterra is not a very functional site for all individuals. Due to the multitude of moving graphics and interactive games, this site has a high content of items to be loaded upon entrance to the site. With that in mind, the majority of internet users do not have high-speed or broadband internet and therefore would choose not enter this site because of the long load times. As the guidelines explain, "The most functional sites also take into consideration those with special access needs. Good functionality makes the experience center stage and the technology invisible." Geoterra does not make the technology invisible but they do attempt to diminish the evidence of technology in a few ways. By referring to the loading of the main page as the site "calculating your travel path" the individual does not immediately recognize this as the loading of a page. Another way that the site minimizes technology is by referring to loading in any other context as "harmonizing." Although the site does limit its audience by its high content, for the individuals who can experience the webpage with high-speed access, it is a very lovely site to visit.

A rather important criteria through the Webby Awards is interactivity, but because the site is almost a completely interactive advertising site, the next criteria will be taken from the Interactive Advertising criteria of integration. This criteria deals with the questions: "How well the work is implemented in the medium? Can you fully experience the quality of the work, or are there technical or media specific issues preventing you from experiencing it to its fullest?" Geoterra does an incredible job of making sure the user is involved and interacting with the website at all times. From the very beginning, the site welcomes the user and invites them to help the islanders make the island more environmentally friendly. Each product that is advertised has its own interactive game which includes the information from the mini-site and uses that information to allow the user to interact with the product and demonstrate exactly how helpful the product is. Like a usual advertising campaign, the site does have main takeway as well: that the products are useful, good for the environment and fun too.

Advertising is a medium which constantly changes to accommodate how people think feel and move about the world. The internet is no exception to this phenomenon and it has drastically changed how advertisers effectively target their audience. Interactive websites which correlate with the billboards and television commercials are now a common form of advertisement. With that in mind, products have to stand out by doing something a little different and one website that does execute this concept very effectively is Geoterra. Although it may have very limited common text, the website promotes the products in such a way as to entertain the audience while still informing and sparking interest.

The WebAwards and Webby Awards are not the only experts on how sites should be executed. The Web Style Guide is another standard by which individuals can analyze websites and ensure their internet viewing is on par. The Web Style guide merely offers the correct way to create a site and does not analyze sites nor does it give out rating. The site is divided into many categories from the type of site to certain aspects of a site. According to the guide on entertainment, “entertainment sites usually cater to an audience whose interests and motivations are usually much less focused. This audience needs to be grabbed immediately by compelling graphic and text presentations, or they'll simply hop somewhere else in search of stimulation.” This excerpt explains perfectly what Geoterra accomplished by creating their interactive island. Without such a visually and aural pleasing design, the site would not be as enthralling. Although it does contain that there should be text presentations as well, the text present in the site is sufficient enough for the context of the promotion. Another point with the Web Style Guide points out as a major page design point is that “Subtle pastel shades of colors typically found in nature make the best choices for background or minor elements. Avoid bold, highly saturated primary colors except in regions of maximum emphasis, and even there use them cautiously.” Geoterra uses light blues, greens, yellow and a very subtle purple. All of the colors are very aesthetically pleasing to the eye without distractions to any certain area. A criticism of the site which the guide would point out is the overuse of graphic embellishments. “The tools of graphic emphasis are powerful and should be used only in small doses for maximum effect. Overuse of graphic emphasis leads to a "clown's pants" effect in which everything is garish and nothing is emphasized.” Although the guide would argue that the site does not accentuate any one object because of the abundance of eye candy, the graphical design has a theme which makes the site more cohesive and easy to access. Until everyone has the access to high-speed iternet access, the guide urges not to place too many graphics on the site because “a full-screen graphic menu on your home page plus background graphics could leave your modem-based readers twiddling their thumbs for a full minute or more, even if they have a state-of-the-art modem and a good Internet connection.” Another point which the Web Style Guide emphasizes is the use of animation in specific circumstances. As shown in the multimedia portion of the site: "Simple animation on a Web site's main home page can provide just the right amount of visual interest to invite users to explore your materials...Also, subtle animation such as a rollover can help guide the user to interface elements that they might otherwise overlook." The guide warns once again of the problems with having an abundance of graphics because it increases the load time for individauls and limits the access of some. Despite the occasional disparities between what the Web Style Guide dictates and how Geoterra is designed, mostly the site follows very closely with what Web Style Guide considers an effective website.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project is a internet based mission to "produce(s) reports that explore the impact of the Internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life." According to an article found on this site, internet penetration has become quite a phenomenon within the contemporary world. According to a study done in an earlier article Generations Online, 88% of 18-29 yr olds use the internet and 73% of adults use the internet. With such a large proportion of the population using the internet, it makes sense that advertising is moving towards the use of internet ads and interactive media.

Despite the disagreement with the amount of content on the website, Geoterra is an exceptional site which uses a new means of interactive advertising to effectively target a new audience and sell a product while entertaing the user. This type of site marks a new trend in the advertising spectrum and the fact that it was conceived in 2005 shows that this site was one of the first to attempt this new form. Geoterra is a site which opens the eyes of its users, gets them involved and sells a product without the user even realizing it.

Monday, September 18, 2006

the revolution of tivo: are commercials a thing of the past?

While searching through Technorati to find blogs which would both spark my interest and also pertain closely to the advertising medium, I startled upon two blogs which explore the effects of Tivo on commercial advertising on television. This issue is something which I have thought about in passing but have never fully looked into its full repercussions. What I discovered is that there are many precautions that have already been put into place to ensure the success of commercials on DVR enabled televisions. Tivo and other such enabled cable devices use a DVR (Digital Video Recorder) which allows subscribers to record TV shows on the memory of the cable box. Once recorded, the user has full capability of rewinding, fast forwarding or pausing the television program. Live television also has the capability of being rewound up to thirty minutes prior to live TV, provided their Tivo was tuned to the channel for thirty minutes prior. Now that there is a clear definition of how Tivo works, there must be an explanation of how it is used. The most popular purpose of the Tivo is to record shows with the intention to fast forward through the commercials when the program is actually watched. This is the dilemna that advertisers have run into. If consumers are fast forwarding through commericals, how will they get the message. One blog offers one solution to the dilemna by merely showing a still picture for a 30 second spot in order to ensure the viewers clearly receive the message regardless of the use of Tivo. Another interesting blog explores an alternate form of advertising on Tivo using interactive media. This methodology uses the advancement of technology to make commercials interactive by allowing viewers to participate in a special promotion such as design your own lexus.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

personalized attention: technology's affect on advertising

Imagine for a moment that you are in the year 2054, what kind of advertisements do you think you would see lining the walls of a mall or street corner. Clearly technology will have advanced much by that time but what kind of new gadgets will dazzle our gaze? The film Minority Report attempts to predict this future of advertising based upon the advancements of technology seen in our present day. Many scenes depict promotional advertisements which are personalized by use of a retinal scan as an individual walks by the digital screen. The information is then processed and displayed for the client by either stating their name within the advertisement or pointing out related items to their needs. Although this concept may seem far-fetched, it is much closer than one can imagine. A technology that has gained much momentum in the past couple of years which may enable a closer actualization of this methodoloy is Bluetooth. Bluetooth is a wireless manner of sending data up to 100 meters away which has been used most popularly with cell phones. With more and more cell phone owners buying these wireless headsets every day, the advertising agencies realized that this a market which can revolutionize how products will be publicized. "By the end of this year, the number of Bluetooth gadgets, still mostly used with mobile phones, will rise to more than a billion from 500 million at the end of 2005," which means it is quite a large upcoming market to consider. Using the same concept as demonstrated in the film Minority Report, individuals have been inspired to use bluetooth recognition to target individuals and personalize advertisements. BluScreen is the project which has had the most success with the creation of such a device. Developed by a group of students in the United Kingdom, the product will conceivably revolutionize the way advertising is executed. There is only one working model which is displayed in a hallway at Electronics and Computer Science at Southampton University. As far as issue of anonymity, one of the creators Alex Rogers commented that "It can uniquely identify devices but keeps the person anonymous" but also stated that users can get more personalized advertisments by "Adding profile information [to] make the display more relevant." This manner of promotion can change many things about advertising, but does this invention overstep the boundaries of the client/promoter relationship? When do we draw the line as to how much advertisers are involved in our lives? Despite blocking of unsolicited telemarketers or privacy settings online, advertisers still find ways to reach their audience with clever personalized messages. What I argue is that although the advertising may be quite taxing at times, the constant bombardment of messages is what makes the civilized world what it is.

No matter where you go, there is always some form of advertisement waiting for an unsuspecting onlooker. Whether it is a billboard, a commercial or just a poster, there is a constant flow of information to the public at all times. The task for the advertiser is to make their advertisement stand out above the majority of advertisements most of which are completely forgotten right after they are seen. and what better way to do this then to place advertisements where the typical consumer would go: the grocery store, bathrooms, coffee stores, malls. The list goes on and on, but where the problems exists is that all advertisers promote in the same locations. This results in an overload of information which may seem overwhelming to an outsider, but the reality is that most people don't even see half of the advertising out there. Advertisements are mostly harmless and contribute greatly to how consumers think and feel. Advertising is a very powerful entity which succeeds in nudging individuals to form opinions of products or concepts and thrives on ensuring those opinions remain. It may be viewed as a negative result but most messages contained in advertisements merely urge us to buy a certain type of pan or car. To demonstrate how greatly advertising has affected all individuals, imagine an individual who owns a mac laptop, drives a bmw convertabile and drinks starbucks every morning. Although there will be slight variations, most people could agree that this individual is most likely a young male who works in an office atmosphere and most likely wears a trendy suit to work everyday. All three products have their own individual brand associations which affects how individuals buy meaning if an individual wants to emulate the image of the brand, they will buy the product to show who they are. How can such a powerful entity be so negative? Given that sometimes advertisements do sometimes overstep boundaries and offend individuals with negative messages towards certain races or body types, the vast majority of advertising just reinforces the ideas that are already spread throughout society. It just allows more persons to realize what is the hip thing to do at the present time.

Although I do believe that advertising does clearly help society, there are definitely times at which they overstep their boundaries and violate privacy issues. The bluetooth technology has already taken precautions to ensure that it is not used to encroach upon the privacy of individuals however it may change in the near future. A technology which does indeed already violate a person's ability not to be advertised is the use of personalized text messages sent to the phone of an individual who walks within a certain radius of a store determined through use of GPS tracking available on most new phones. For example, say an individual walks within 50 feet of a starbucks, they would be sent a messaging urging them to visit the store and possibly offer a coupon to entice them to enter. Another form of this technology is the use of advertising on cellular phones' home page of the internet browser. A larger quantity of phones are now coming standard with internet access, this use of advertisement is a little less intrusive then the text messages which deems it non-controversial. In closing, although technology may allow advertisers to target markets even more effectively, I do not believe the change in the manner of advertising will affect the true aim of advertising: bringing people closer in how they think and feel about products, ideas, and life.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

an advertising enterprise: A&F


When is enough, enough? Some people worship Abercrombie and Fitch, while others are downright offended by the messages that are promoted every day in their stores. Although Abercrombie and Fitch (A&F for short), does not advertise outside of their stores, the company uses very effective means to promote not only their brand but also an A&F lifestyle. It's quite ironic that large companies spend millions upon millions of dollars every year to promote their businesses while A&F actually earns money while advertising. The main method for all promotion is on t-shirts and other assorted clothing items which are worn proudly by customers all over the world. The majority of merchandise sold in stores have some form of the company's name prominently displayed in order to distinguish the clothing from all other stores. Whether it is a moose, "Abercrombie" or an "1892" (Abercrombie's date of establishment), the public recognizes very easily when an item is from Abercrombie and Fitch and it is this recognition which is key to Abercrombie's advertising. Once an individual spots an A&F item, immediately there is a strong association with the Brand and the look which has been succesfully engrained into the minds of the masses. Abercrombie is globally known as the all-american clothing company with amazingly attractive models whose pictures are posted all over the stores. Upon entering a store, all customers are exposed to a multitude of black and white photos which contain half-naked models in seductive poses either alone or with a member of the opposite sex. Abercrombie's means of advertisement is almost perfect, atleast in the business sense that large profit is made from a very low cost means. Things are never as perfect as they seem and it is Abercrombie's "flawless" methods which have often backfired in their faces. Although there have been multiple cases of lawsuits against the company their revenue has not decreased in the slightest.

Abercrombie is a very controversial brand and because of that, there are vastly different opinions upon the inner workings of the store. There have been many disputes as to whether the store is an equal opportunity employer and most sources would agree that it is not true. Along with the look that is associated with Abercrombie is the assumption that all the models are white, skinny and attractive. With that in mind, the company stays true to the Brand in all aspects of the store and therefore hire only employees with the Abercrombie "look". Where this process brings negative attention is when individuals are discriminated on grounds of race and skin color. It is true that the majority of all Abercrombie and Fitch employees are caucasian, but due to many disputes in courts, A&F has reverted their ways of recruiting and hiring requirements are much lower. Despite the occasional lawsuit regarding discrimination in hiring and politically incorrect humor on t-shirts, Abercrombie and Fitch's methods of advertising prove very effective. The discrimination disputes are a result of over-sensitivity of the public. To use an example, Maxim magazine only displays gorgeous models who fit the ideal of what men want to see. Using this logic, Abercrombie employees may all look very similar, but it is their similarity that makes Abercrombie, Abercrombie and Fitch. Another point of discussion is the content on their famous humor tees. These t-shirts contain politically incorrect play on words and jokes which may offend many people. The justification for the t-shirts is that the humor outweighs the offense upon other individuals and the truth is that these t-shirts are not nearly as offensive as they were in the past years. There are no racial slurs or discriminatory remarks on the humor tees produced in the recent lines.

Although A&F's method does not advertise explicitely outside of stores, on occasion they do use alternate forms of advertisement which involve outdoor posters. The other medium by which Abercrombie does advertise partially is through their magazine, the A&F Quarterly. This magazine is another example of how A&F uses sexual attraction and general sexual appeal to sell their product. The magazine consists of a variety of models in even less clothing than are shown in the store. Even the negative attention, which may seem detrimental to Abercrombie's advertising design, actually helps the company advertise to those whom are not usually targeted. All in all, Abercrombie and Fitch may use non-traditional methods of advertising but this technique functions perfectly with today's market and the personality of the targeted audience.