Post #10: Suicidal Hyundai Commercail

This banned Hyundai commercial was created by a European advertising agency.  American Ford did not approve it for use and it was not intended to be shown on air.  Since it leaked on the internet, it has created a huge controversy.

The commercial lets viewers be voyeurs during a man’s attempt at suicide.  This topic alone makes Americans uncomfortable, and being present during the act ups the discomfort.  However, I believe that humor and wit outweigh the heavy theme.  The ad actually focuses on the environmentally friendly side of Hyundai car.  The man isn’t able to commit suicide because the car doesn’t produce carbon monoxide fumes.  After the man gives up his suicide attempt, he opens the garage and white text appears, which reads “The new ix35 with 100& water emissions.”

I think the suicide-themed Hyundai commercial is justified to air without censorship.  Before I viewed it, the way I heard it described sounded comical and brilliant.  After watching the ad, the dark, serious cinematography did strike a slight nerve.  However, I still believe it is highly effective at demonstrating the environmental benefits of the new Hyundai car.  It is clear that the commercial is European, given the overall theme and the right-side steering wheel.  According to USA Today, “Hyundai issued a statement: “We at Hyundai Motor America are shocked and saddened by the depiction of a suicide attempt in an inappropriate European video featuring a Hyundai. Suicide merits thoughtful discussion, not this type of treatment.”

The ad was created by an overseas ad agency, Innocean Europe, and had no connection to Hyundai’s U.S. operations.  Suicide prevention activists expressed relief that the ad has been banished.  Robert Gebbia, executive director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said “We know from research that graphic depictions of suicide in the media can inadvertently lead to further suicides, a phenomenon known as contagion.  This advertisement was particularly graphic and potentially dangerous. We are pleased that Hyundai has decided to pull this campaign.”  Although I can see where suicide prevention benefits from banning this commercial, I am disappointed that Americans decided it crossed the line.  Perhaps if Americans didn’t see taboo topics with such fear, they wouldn’t be so shocking in the first place.

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New Movie: The English Teacher

The synopsis for The English Teacher, via Indiewire:

“Linda Sinclair (Julianne Moore) is a forty-year-old unmarried high school English teacher in the small town of Kingston, Pennsylvania. She shares a small apartment with two Siamese cats and her rich collection of great literature. She maintains no close personal relationships aside from those she has with her favorite authors and stories. Her life is far less complicated than the dramas she devours on the page, and she likes it that way.

“But Linda’s simple life turns an unexpected page when former star pupil Jason Sherwood (Michael Angarano) returns to Kingston after trying to make it as a playwright in New York. Now in his 20s, Jason is on the verge of abandoning art, pressured by his overbearing father, Dr. Tom Sherwood (Greg Kinnear), to face reality and go to law school. Linda can’t stand the thought of Jason giving up on his dreams so she decides to mount his play – a dark, angst-ridden, ambitious work – as a Kingston High School production, with flamboyant drama teacher Carl Kapinas (Nathan Lane) directing.

“As Linda, now well out of her normal comfort zone, takes further risks in life and love, the stage is set for highly comic downfall. With the play, her reputation, and her teaching career on the line, Linda finds an unlikely ally in herself. Amidst the ruins of her formerly perfect life, can she find a way to her own unique storybook ending?”

There is a Facebook page for the movie.  The biography on Facebook reads:

“Refuse to live life by the book. Opens LA 5/17 and NY 5/24. Now available on VOD and Digital Platforms. Visit us at:http://englishteachermovie.com/

It was created in January 2013, and it is updated at least once every weekday with witty memes from the movie.   The page has over 1,500 likes, which is fairly significant for an unreleased below-the-radar movie.  The cover photo was created to look like a movie poster, which is effective.

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The movie also has a twitter page and has created the hashtag “#TheEnglishTeacher”.   People have been using the hashtag while they watch the video on demand, or if they have a relevant comment.  The English Teacher’s twitter also references real-life English teachers and their role in students’ lives.

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This movie is a current Tumblr favorite.  There are many gifs and memes about the movie.  The Tumblr platform makes sense for the movie because it’s a quirky story that Tumblr users would connect with.  Tumblr originally became popular because it was an alternative way to connect with other internet users through shared images, video, and text posts. The site is a great way to market movies strategically by connecting with major influencers who will share gifs comments about the movie.

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Targeted Marketing

I came across this article on Gizmodo.  I’m fascinated.  It takes targeted marketing to another level.  What do you think?

“This Ad Has a Secret Anti-Abuse Message That Only Kids Can See

In an effort to provide abused children with a safe way to reach out for help, a Spanish organization called the Aid to Children and Adolescents at Risk Foundation, or ANAR for short, created an ad that displays a different message for adults and children at the same time.

“The secret behind the ad’s wizardry is a lenticular top layer, which shows different images at varying angles. So when an adult—or anyone taller than four feet, five inches—looks at it they only see the image of a sad child and the message: “sometimes, child abuse is only visible to the child suffering it.” But when a child looks at the ad, they see bruises on the boy’s face and a different message: “if somebody hurts you, phone us and we’ll help you” alongside the foundation’s phone number.

“The ad is designed to empower kids, particularly if their abuser happens to be standing right next to them. And while this is a great and worthwhile use of lenticular images, how long will it be before toy companies start doing to the same thing to hawk their products directly at kids?”

Post # 9: Corporate Smiles

Amazon’s corporate advertisements always pull at my heartstrings.  I still remember when this ad aired on television. I stopped doing what I was working on in the kitchen as soon as I heard “We’re the people with the smile on the box.” I had to watch it.  I have a highly analytical family, so I have always been extremely aware of what I see as effective or ineffective in advertising.  Now that I’ve been studying marketing in depth, it’s become part of my nature to automatically critique advertisements.

Here it is:

In this ad, Amazon identifies the company as “we,” which really works for me.  It makes me more inclined to want a relationship with “them” rather than “it.”  Amazon has excellent customer service (which you can read about here, or a brief overview here), and it carries over into their highly personal tv commercial.

As a consumer and as a future marketing mastermind, I love the narration so much that I could pick out every single sentence to analyze! All age demographicsare included in this video.  The Amazon Experience* can be enjoyed by nearly anyone with internet access in the United States.  The commercial shows children excitedly running downstairs for the arrival of an Amazon package, and for older generations, there is old video footage featured of Roger Bannister breaking “The Four Minute Mile” (see more on that here).

This commercial does an incredible job highlighting the specific features and benefits of their products and services.  The ad shows that parents benefit from the convenience of online purchasing while kids are able to learn from and enjoy Amazon products.   The messages suggests that Amazon will make anyone’s life more efficient overall, and in turn, be happier and more fulfilled.  I typically scoff at advertisements that attempt this, but as an avid Amazon Prime user, I personally believe that my world is better because of Amazon.

Need any more convincing why Amazon is awesome?

Read more about their Customer Obsession, check out Four Customer Service Lessons You can Learn from Amazon, or read the CEO’s Inspiring Letter to Shareholders,

If that isn’t enough, perhaps you’ll have personal appreciation for Jeff Bezos’s wit in his personal customer service email: “Amazon Sends Best Customer Service Email I’ve Ever Received”

Post # 8: Blogging

Today, writing a homework assignment on my blog feels a bit like living in the future.  I remember when “web logs” were new.  Few people wrote them, most were highly personal, and there weren’t many popular ones.  Some of the top blogs from my preteen days were on Xanga and LiveJournal. Like MySpace, these blogs are hardly relevant anymore. (See blog timeline at bottom of post.)  Now, Some of the most popular free blogging platforms are WordPress, Blogger, and TypePad.

As our technology skills have improved, blogging has boomed.  The days of online diaries are, for the most part, behind us.   Now, many businesses operate from a blog platform.  For some, blogging is highly lucrative.  One of the most publicly known commercial blogs is The Sartorialist, a high-end fashion blog run by Scott Schuman.  With enormous amounts of website traffic and high-paying advertisers, he made over $1 million annually from blogging. His blog no longer features banner advertisements, but his web presence has earned him a “six-figure book deal with Penguin, and a booming photography business.” (Read more from Fast Company.)  He also boasts over 100,000 unique site visitors per day.

Scott Schuman | Photo: Garance Doré | Via The Sartorialist

Scott Schuman | Photo: Garance Doré | Via The Sartorialist

If you want to be successful in the modern world, it’s essential to have a great web presence.  Many creative jobs and marketing positions are now filled online.  The job hiring process often means scoping out LinkedIn profiles and digging up personal information on Google.  If a young professional has a blog or website for recruiters to land on, it shows initiative, the ability to influence, and a personal voice.

It takes both marketing skills and tech-savvy to run a successful blog.  To run a for-profit one, it takes a bit of luck and a lot of ingenuity. Exceptional blogs can even be be sold as a business.  For the rest of us, bloggers make money through advertisements and partnerships.  This ranking of top earning blogs shows the main source of income through advertising:

Top Earning Blogs | Via Income Diary

Top Earning Blogs | Via Income Diary

For reference, a comprehensive timeline of the history of blogging:

January 1994
Swarthmore student Justin Hall creates first blog ever, Links.net.

December 1997
Online diarist Jorn Barger coins the term “Weblog” for “logging the Web.”

April 1999
Programmer Peter Merholz shortens “Weblog” to “blog.”

August 1999
Blogger rolls out the first popular, free blog-creation service.

January 2000
Boing Boing is born.

July 2000
AndrewSullivan.com launches.

February 2002
Heather Armstrong is fired for discussing her job on her blog, Dooce. “Dooced” becomes a verb: “Fired for blogging.”

August 2002
Nick Denton launches Gizmodo, the first in what will become a blog empire. Blogads launches, the first broker of blog advertising.

December 2002
Talking Points Memo highlights Trent Lott’s racially charged comments; thirteen days later, Lott resigns from his post as Senate majority leader.

December 2002
Gawker launches, igniting the gossip-blog boom.

March 2003
“Salam Pax,” an anonymous Iraqi blogger, gains worldwide audience during the Iraq war.

June 2003
Google launches AdSense, matching ads to blog content.

August 2003
The first avalanche of ads on political blogs.

September 2003
Jason Calacanis founds Weblogs, Inc., which eventually grows into a portfolio of 85 blogs.

January 2004
Denton launches Wonkette.

March 2004
Calacanis poaches Gizmodo writer Peter Rojas from Denton. Denton proclaims himself “royally shafted” on his personal blog.

December 2004
Merriam-Webster declares “blog” the “Word of the Year.

January 2005
Study finds that 32 million Americans read blogs.

May 2005

The Huffington Post launches.

October 2005
Calacanis sells his blogs to AOL for $25 million.

December 2005
An estimated $100 million worth of blog ads are sold this year.

January 2006
Time leases Andrew Sullivan’s blog, adding it to its Website.

February 2006
The Huffington Post surges to become fourth most-linked-to blog.

(Timeline via New York Magazine)

Tribeca Film Festival, Social Media Style

Have you heard that Vines will officially be featured in the Tribeca Film Festival? Vine is still very new to the social media world.  There are speculations that the app is just a fad, but this could be a game changer.  What do you think? Do you have what it takes to make a festival-worthy Vine?

Read more on the Wall Street Journal Blog:

Six Seconds to Impress Tribeca on Vine

If the idea of getting a film into the Tribeca Film Festival seems daunting, try impressing judges in six seconds using Twitter’s film-making app, Vine. The medium may demand brevity, but there are no limits on creativity, judging from the shortlist released by the film festival for its #6secfilms competition.

The 40 films were whittled down by Tribeca’s programming team from 415 submissions tagged #6secfilms on Twitter. The films will now be reviewed by a panel of judges that includes actor and Vine celebrity Adam Goldberg and director Penny Marshall. Winners will be announced on April 26 in the categories of “Genre,” “Auteur,” “Animate” and “Series.” The shortlist can be viewed here.

In the spirit of the competition, the Journal’s social media team compiled a list of nine cool and artsy Vines to showcase creative uses of the app.

The competition’s shortlisted films include a take on the well-known musical loop at the start of Pink Floyd’s “Money” using household objects, a momentous occasion relished with relish and a lightbulb moment caught using animation.

The competition is one of several digital initiatives taking place at the festival, which opened on Wednesday and will run until April 28. In an interview with Speakeasy, co-founder of the festival Jane Rosenthal described the film-making app as a way of “just going back to basics of looking at just imagery and sound in the most fundamental way.”

If you’re curious about who’s made the cut, check out the finalists here.

Post #7: Direct Marketing

What is direct marketing?  Does social media marketing count?  What about an email sent to thousands of people?  Paper mail?  Does that still exist?    Companies spend a fortune on direct marketing.  How can that rate of success be measured?

I receive many emails each day, mostly from retail stores.  Typically, I delete 50% of these based on uninteresting or irrelevant subject lines.  If the subject mentions a sale, a free gift, or a time-sensitive offer, I’m more likely to open it.  I believe that utilizing big data for targeting email campaigns breaches privacy.   However, those emails are significantly more likely to affect my purchases.

For example, I regularly receive emails from travel websites for flight deals.   I usually do not sign up for these emails.  The websites track the routes I search, and contact me about various available flights.  These travel sites , such as (LINKS*) Orbitz, Kayak, and Hotwire,  act as intermediaries between customers and airlines.  This is an email from Airfare Watchdog, which alerted me of a cheap round-trip flight to New York City.

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The subject lines of these emails can be deceiving.  This particular email states $268 for this flight.   If a customer clicks through or completes the transaction, online fees add an additional $35-$50, which puts the flight at over $300.  This psychological pricing tactic is effective because it impresses a low price into customers’ minds and creates excitement over the deal.  Sometimes, even though fees are attached later, this initial impression is enough to persuade customers’ purchases.

Travel businesses thrive off of this psychological manipulation,.  Is it wrong?  Maybe.  Does it work on me?  Absolutely.