Go Home Guinness, You’re Drunk

I, like most other bar patrons around the world, enjoy a nice pint of Guinness every once in a while. Yet the Irish company has now come out with a new product known as Guinness Black Lager. I have never tasted this beer but I am already not a fan of it due to the advertising plan the brewery has decided to employ. The commercial entitled “Seamless” focuses on a young adult male who seems to be living a sophisticated lifestyle. I do not have any problems with this setting or the character itself but the dialogue used in order to promote the drink.

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When questioned “how can Guinness Black Lager be black and refreshing,” the actor chooses only to focus on other products to prove his point. The first example brought up is iced coffee and the main character states “iced coffee is black and has a delicious roasted flavor and delicious taste.” The second example used is cola and it is “also delicious and refreshing.” Using the attribution theory, the company is trying to persuade consumers that since these two other drinks are black and refreshing then their beer must be as well. Personally I think this is a cop-out from the company as it trying to compare itself to other drinks, so their product has to be the same.

Black is also a color used to portray a cool and mysterious tone, which is why I believe the company chose to name its newest product a black lager. Black has this coolness due to symbolic interactionism, where people assign behaviors on the basis of meanings they assign to them. This is clearly portrayed in the commercial itself as the main character (as previously mentioned) is presented as a high-class bachelor.
Thanks to this commercial, I will not try this beverage unless it is out of sheer necessity or desperation. Entitled “Seamless” this campaign seems spineless as they try to gain credibility through other examples. Trust yourself and not the work of others, you’re Guinness Brewing Company.

- Michael Nunes

The Hawpah

When thinking of the city of Boston, MA a few things come to most people’s minds: the Red Sox, cold weather, clam chowder, the word “wicked”, and, of course, that horrible Boston accent.  For those of you who may be unaware of this accent, it’s the same one that has been pouring out of TV’s for the past year thanks to DISH’s ad campaign for the Hopper.

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In January 2012, DISH Network released their new DVR system known simply as the “Hopper.”  The system allowed viewers to record up to 6 shows at the same time, included AutoHop, which would let you skip over commercials, and had a program called PrimeTime Anytime, which allowed the owner to record every primetime show from the four major networks for eight days.

With such an amazing system, DISH had to come through with a hit ad campaign.  The campaign they came up with, which introduced the “Boston Guys,” was an instant hit.  The campaign featured a family from Boston, all of whom had extremely thick accents, who just sat around watching TV.  The first ad that hit the airways featured the “Boston Guys” sitting around saying “the hawpah” over and over again.  Take a look:

The commercial was such a hit that DISH decided to make a whole series of commercials featuring the Boston Guys.  The commercials spread like wild-fire and soon everyone was talking about the Hopper.

This campaign ties into Kenneth Burke’s theory of dramatism.  In all of the commercials the agents and the scene are the same.  The commercials all contain the Boston Guys and always take place in their house.  On the other hand, the act, agency and purpose continually change.

This past January, DISH improved the Hopper by adding Sling technology, which allows customers to view the shows they recorded on mobile devices.  DISH decided to bring the Boston Guys back for the new version but slightly shook up the campaign.  In this campaign, the agents still stay the same and the act, agency, and purpose still differ with every commercial, but now the scene changes as well.  The campaign takes the Boston Guys out of the house to show how the new sling technology works.

So far, this years campaign has been just as successful as last years.  Multiple commercials featuring the Boston Guys have come out since the campaign started in January, and as of now, the campaign shows no signs of slowing down.  All we can do now is wait and see where DISH takes the Boston Guys next.

Zach Abramo

This Little Piggy…

This little piggy went to market. This little piggy went home. This little piggy had roast beef. This little piggy had none. This little piggy went to… Geico?Image

That’s right. Maxwell, the little piggy who cried “Wee Wee Wee” all the way home in the 2010 Geico commercial is now one of the most recognizable characters in the media today. Simply putting a name to one of the little pigs from the “This Little Piggy” song (that most Americans are familiar with) gave many viewers a chance to reflect on their childhood and build a connection with the viewer.

Kenneth Burke, an American theorist and philosopher, would refer to Maxwell as the agent in the series of commercials. Using Maxwell as a constant character in these commercials is an aligned way to tie the series of advertisements all together. Despite the various acts, scenes, purposes, and agencies used throughout the series of advertisements, Maxwell is always present throughout and that offers the viewers the opportunity to classify him as a sort of mascot. Similar to the Geico Gecko, despite what he is doing, many viewers will now instantly link Maxwell with Geico because of the conduciveness of the ads.

Geico now has a series of at least 5 commercials all starring Maxwell. He is shown participating in a range of acts and in an array of different settings throughout the various commercials. From zip lining down a mountain to driving a convertible all the way to a romantic night on a secluded mountaintop, Geico has stopped at nothing to incorporate their little piggy and keep their marketing consistent. Sometimes, Gieco also takes the opportunity to crack a quick joke and or pull in a well-known cultural saying. For example, in one of their most recent commercials, Maxwell is on a plane and they seize the opportunity to tie in the old saying of ‘I will believe it when pigs fly.’

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With that being said, many other companies are now utilizing a similar method. Commercials featuring characters that parallel to those of the big bad wolf, little red riding hood, and the three bears have rushed the media. Clearly, the use of recalling characters from cultural fairy tales and our past experiences is an effective way to set a product ahead of its competition. Furthermore, using a consistent character, although it could get annoying, is also an effective way of building an advertising campaign and creating a name or face for the company.

Dann Williams

Slimful or Sinful?

It is no secret that women in America are under extreme pressure to be slim. Products like Slim-Fast, QuickTrim, and Hydroxycut are just a few examples of what women are buying to live up to this cultural expectation. I’ve seen these items and have simply written them off as another weight loss scheme. Nothing about them really struck me as odd, or even unhealthy. However, the other day I heard a commercial that made my jaw hit the floor. That commercial was for Slimful. Take a look for yourself.

I honestly thought it was a parody commercial that was making fun of how idiotic some products are, but, oh, how wrong I was! I immediately began researching this product to see if it was really as ridiculous as it sounded. The commercial ends with the statement “eating less is a beautiful thing,” and this is exactly what the product promises and promotes. The idea is simple: eat a Slimful chew, drink a glass of water, and you won’t be hungry for hours.

skinnyThere is no mention of combining the product with an exercise program or a healthy diet. The website does say that the idea is to eat less, not to stop eating at all. However, it is no secret that many girls and women struggle daily with eating disorders. What message is a commercial like this sending to those struggling with anorexia or bulimia? It sounds an awful lot like encouragement to me. The commercial blatantly says it is not only okay to eat less but that actually it is a beautiful thing to eat less.  Looking at this advertising campaign from a health communication perspective, it becomes increasingly hard to ignore how dangerous a commercial and product like this could be. In advertising, the meaning of the message is often defined by the audience receiving it. Ignoring the impression this commercial could make on someone struggling with an eating disorder is heinous. The campaign helps to perpetuate the idea that thinness, and therefore frailty is beautiful in women, not strength. The commercial also further extends the idea that eating less, rather than doing more is the way to achieve a desired weight or look.

Advertisements like this are just one of the many factors that play a large role in the creation of the cultural expectations women are held to. The rise of social media sites such as Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr, have accelerated the spread of these unrealistic expectations to a new level. Media still sets the tone for cultural stereotypes, but social networking sites have the power to expand and develop them unlike any tool in the past. Individuals are able to chime in with their opinions and like-minded groups begin to form.

What troubles me the most about this advertising campaign is the life it could potentially take on in the Pro-Anorexia (Pro-Ana), and Pro-Bulimia (Pro-Mia) social media communities. This article from the Huffington Post begins to explain the debate currently happening on Twitter and in these online communities. The hashtags “#proana” and “#promia” are used on Twitter to indicate support and encouragement for those with eating disorders. These hashtags raise concerns because often the users are not trying to help each other beat the disease but rather they exchange advice on how to become a more “successful” anorexic or bulimic. As the article explains, this is truly a complicated issue. Some people are callingpinterest warning for a ban on this type of communication and support. Tumblr and Pinterest, which are largely centered around visual content, have already begun to take steps to slow down the spread of Pro-Ana and Pro-Mia content. However, censoring Twitter content quickly brings up arguments over the first amendment which will slow down any ban decisions in progress.

Additionally, as this article from the New York Daily News discusses, some people argue that these communities can actually provide support for girls trying to recover. This argument grew out of a study published in Health Communication. The study interviewed bloggers that write for Pro-Ana websites. The bloggers explained that the online communities provide a place where they can be understood. Eating disorders are a stigmatized illness that can often lead to feelings of isolation. If these online communities can provide emotional support for those suffering from an eating disorder that is unavailable elsewhere, how can destroying them be justified?

The Slimful commercial was released only a month ago and hasn’t received much attention yet. Only time will tell if the results will be as detrimental as one may imagine. There is no simple answer to the questions I’ve raised in this post. I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg. It seems that more vicious circles are being created as social media continues to evolve, and this could be just the beginning.

- Alexandra Huss

Are You Getting Scroogled?

Beginning March 1st, Google will be implementing a new privacy policy which will affect all of its products/services offered in order to gain a better perspective of their consumers and give them a more personalized experience. With the new privacy policy, Google will be able to gain more access to personal information by pulling material from all Google-operated services/products, such as E-mail, and using that information to create personalized advertisements to the user. This idea is similar to the one discussed in our earlier blog post titled “Not to Burst Your Bubble….”. With a better understanding of their users, Google will better be able to sell advertising, which in fact, is a main source of revenue for the company. Also, advertisers will be willing to spend more money with Google, if Google is bringing them more customers.

This privacy policy change has certainly upset a number of people, but it might be safe to say none like Microsoft, a competitor of Google’s. Within recent weeks, Microsoft has released a number of advertisements via print and YouTube blatantly attacking Google and its new privacy policy. With the headline, “Have you Been Scroogled?”, and the advertisements tearing the privacy policy to shreds, it’s hard for one to not compare these advertising campaigns to those of the presidential elections.  It is unclear what the purpose of the advertisement is until the very last couple of seconds in which the Microsoft Outlook logo is revealed. There is even a website dedicated to the campaign. Upon visiting, the user is given the option to sign a petition against Google and the option to try Microsoft Outlook. The irony behind this whole situation is prevalent in several ways. First, Microsoft is placing these anti-Google advertisements on YouTube. Second, when searching for “Microsoft anti-Google ads” through the Google search engine, the websites provided where splattered with banner/marginal ads for Microsoft. When performing this same search through Bing (a search engine owned by Microsoft), the websites provided had shown ads sponsored by Google. This pattern resembles the concept of a “strange loop” within the Coordinated Management of Meaning theory. According to Littlejohn (1999, in Theories of Human Communication), these occur when “the rules of interpretation change from one point in the loop to another, causing a paradox, or strange loop, in which each contexts disconfirms the other”.

http://www.scroogled.com/

As of now, a little less than 10,000 people have signed the petition, which is only a small fraction of the G-mail users, and the YouTube advertisement have received far more “dislikes” than “likes”. Maybe this strategy isn’t as successful as Microsoft had hoped it would be. With Google being the most popular search engine, it is going to take more than that to persuade its users to up and switch to Microsoft. What does this say about Microsoft as a company? Will this be the new advertising technique of the future? Will we no longer see companies like Coke and Pepsi beating around the bush but rather taking deliberate stabs at one another? Only time will tell, but it will be interesting to see where the rest of Microsoft’s campaigning takes us.

Callie Fenlon

S.O.S.

The night has progressed and you are about to make your move when the inevitable question arises, “do you have a condom?” This is the premise that Durex has based their new campaign on. The S.O.S. campaign is an “app powered” one-hour condom delivery service discreetly operating between 4pm and 4am. When one first runs across this ad they may think it is a parody, but this is a service that already exists in certain cities, such as Dubai. The company plans to further expand the campaign to more cities. In today’s busy world, everyone loves a delivery service. How else would we get our last-minute pizzas, packages, flowers…condoms? The new Durex campaign, launched by the Buzzman firm, is ingenious and definitely outside the realm of normal advertising. The unique aspects of this campaign clearly exemplify why this firm has been credited with the development of captivating campaigns in the past. Future endeavors should not be far behind when examining their exciting new usages of message, labels, and systems.

S.O.S. (short for “Save Our Souls”) is globally recognized as a distress signal. Viewing the YouTube commercial on Durex condoms it is evident that the sense of urgency, emergency, distress (if you will) associated with an S.O.S can easily be transferred to something less immediately life-threatening.  It was genius to associate their entire campaign on the premise that this product and service is not only a service people may want, but a good they most definitely NEED!  The name itself alerts potential consumers of this product to the fact that it could be important for their lives.  Buzzman of Paris is the firm credited for the original development of this campaign, which may explain why Paris is the leading city in votes for implementation of delivery service (or is it because Paris is truly the city of love)?  Either way there is definitely potential for geographic growth.

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http://www.sos-condoms.com/

Not surprisingly, YouTube is a vehicle for advertising both the product and service.  Social media is being adopted by most modern businesses as a way to connect with audiences on a personal level which allows them to identify and solve the needs and wants of their target audience. The sensual and provocative usage of filming in the commercial fits perfectly the “edginess” that the campaign strives for, while remaining appropriate to the standards of social media. Not only does this medium provide unlimited amounts of information, it builds brand image and is yet another way to gain valuable information about its consumer.  A win-win for Buzzman,Durex and the customer!

Retailing is the sales of goods and services from businesses to the end users. Durex, in this retail plan, concentrates on its brand image and loyal consumers for selling the product itself (the condom) but this plan furthers the retailing process by integration of a new supply chain of their product.  Rather than purchasing their products by the counter at a pharmacy, or even online, the timeliness and personal service is considered.  Why should pizzas be the only show in town?  Condoms have hit the big time in this retail venture.  It should be interesting to see how this takes off.  The worst-case scenario is that Durex gets people talking, and their condoms “protect” Buzzman’s reputation for fresh ideas.

Zach AbramoCallie FenlonLauren Habig,  Alexandra HussMichael Nunes,Daniel Schaefer

Get Your Vote On!

From commercials to infomercials, advertising and marketing in this day and age has become a completely different game than in the past. Lately, between the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day, many Americans have been overwhelmed with advertisements and promotions that are attempting to make their company stand out from the competition. Whether it was simply trying to convince you to buy their soft drink or attempting to convince you to buy your girlfriend’s engagement ring from their jewelry store, sometimes it seems a little too forced.

http://www.stikkymedia.com/blog/pepsis-20-million-dollar-social-media-campaign

In response to this tension,  marketers are always looking for innovative new ways to involve consumers in the production, promotion and selection of the product itself. This method has been used effectively before and proved quite fruitful for certain companies. In 2007, Mountain Dew began their “DewMocracy” promotion where customers get the chance to vote on new flavors, graphics, colors and names. To this day, Mountain Dew continues to create opportunity for customer interaction in their promotions and advertisements.

Interactive promotional campaigns are ideally designed to benefit both the customer and the company. Lays potato chips are the most recent corporation to take this creative strategy and run with it. Lays has put together a multi-step process for establishing their newest flavor of chip. Originally, Lays invited consumers to submit their flavor ideas and let the public vote on these flavors on Facebook. At this point, the public has voted and Lays has narrowed the competition down to the top 3 public favorites. These flavors have actually been produced and are available for purchase for a limited time. While these flavors are available the voting will continue on Facebook and eventually one will be voted in and named the newest member of the Lays family.

http://www.wtsp.com/news/article/297982/81/You-get-to-pick-the-new-Lays-potato-chip-flavor

Taking a step back and evaluating this marketing strategy utilized by Lays, Mountain Dew and many other large corporations, it is clear that it is effective not only as a result of the customer interaction, but in a handful of other ways. Obviously if voting and discussion is taking place on social media, this is driving a ton of Internet traffic to each of the respective websites. Also, the customer involvement builds a relationship with the consumers and gives them the feeling that they are a part of the company and making important decisions. Finally, specifically for Lays and other promotions that offer the product for a limited time, this strategy causes a boom in sales with everyone trying the new product.

Now that this promotion idea of customer involvement has been tried and proven many large companies are adopting these campaigns. Doritos, along with a few other companies, ran campaigns before the Super Bowl to have the consumers make and vote for which commercial would be shown during the big game. So despite the fact that we are still being consistently and constantly advertised to (and that’s not likely to change any time soon!) the benefits of running these promotions are clearly beyond the obvious boost in sales, this is relationship building at its finest!

- Zach Abramo, Callie Fenlon, Lauren HabigAlexandra Huss, Michael Nunes, Daniel Schaefer, Dann Williams