Intrigue in the Big League

A uni student's intrigue in marketing and media


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“Suitable for Humans” (Week 8 Topic)

Gender inequality is visible nearly everywhere. The image on the left gives just some workplace equalityexamples of how genders are treated differently in the workplace.

Australia has moved forward in gender equality recently, especially with campaigns for gender equality in the workplace. The Workplace Gender Equality Agency works with the Australian government to produce advertisements like the following video to promote the equal treatment of men and women at work.

But it is hard to change these social norms without the effort of all parties. Gender inequality is not only evident in the workplace but also in advertising. Organisations segment men and women through demographics, and while this happens it will be hard to view men and women as equal. Especially when the different products and services targeted to each gender are so diverse.

For examples, different razors/shavers have the exact same functionality and attributes, but different versions are made for men and women. These versions differ in colour, shape, copy (font and text on the packaging), and price. The following clip from The Checkout gives more insight into these differences.

Since I am doing a major in marketing and advertising, I have come up with a potential campaign to promote gender equality. Consumers are more aware of Gender neutral shaver adgender segmentation than ever before, and some consumers are even annoyed by it and go out of their way to purchase gender neutral/unisex products. If a shaver brand such as Gillette (targeted to men) were to amalgamate their products with their women’s range, Gillette Venus, they could appeal to this aware customer segment by associating their brand with gender equality.

The TV advertisement (to reach as many consumers as possible) would start with the new sage and chocolate (gender neutral) coloured shaver being used on what seems to be a woman’s legs. When the leg shaving is finished the image blurs as the shot pans upwards, then clears as it reaches the torso. Here the shaver starts to be used on the chest, a man’s hairy chest. The shaving of the chest continues as the slogan comes up: “The New Gillette Shaver, Suitable for Humans.” I have made a mock-up picture of the advertisement, pictured right.

This type of campaign would be beneficial because it would create positive brand attitude for Gillette as it associates itself with gender equality. It would also benefit the fight for gender equality because it could start a trend in advertising.

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E-waste: we are contributing to massive issue (Week 7 Topic)

Media today is huge. It’s everywhere. Everyone uses it, and everyone loves it. We all pay large amounts of money to get the latest technology, because it’s worth it… right? Well, maybe not.

We might pay a certain price for our technology, but what are others really paying behind the scenes? What are the true media costs?

The BBC has aired a documentary trying to create awareness about the true costs of our media use, something we are not really aware of in our “safe developed-country bubble”, as I like to call it. I myself was not aware of this until I saw the documentary.

BBC exposes the place where technology goes to die. Third World countries are being sent supposedly “second hand” technology goods (such as TVs, computers, phones etc) for them to use. That sounds admirable right? First world countries sharing their technology with the less fortunate, that’s great! But no, of course there is an ulterior motive.

A percentage of the goods sent to these countries are not actually functioning, they are broken, beyond fixing. What are the third world countries to do with these good-for-nothing products? Well they smelt them of course.

Now that isn’t even the worst of it! The workers who smelt this technology range between the ages of 13 and 35. This is a dangerous, toxic workplace, and children aren’t just being exposed to it, but are working in it.

Greenpeace released a similar but more promotional video concerned with this issue. They revealed more disturbing facts. It is actually illegal for developed countries to dump e-waste in developing countries, stated under the Basel Convention. Developed countries bypass this law by declaring the technology as “functioning” second hand goods.

This isn’t just an issue for the workers’ health, but the smelting of this e-waste also has a massively detrimental effect on their country’s environment.

What I find really scary about this issue is the amount I have contributed to this e-waste. My family, my friends, they’ve all contributed. We are creating this problem and allowing our country to dump it on other countries’ doorsteps.

We need to learn how to dispose of e-waste responsibly. If we don’t, at the rate this broken technology is growing, our world will soon be overrun with discarded e-waste.


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Why we should care about dataveillance! (Week 5 Topic)

Recently, the Australian Government proposed the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2015.

To explain this data retention bill in the simplest form, it means that all telecommunications companies have collect and withhold their customers’ data for two years, and make it available to the government.

Now as you might have guessed, this spurred some conflict within the public. A lot of people were against this movement, despite the government’s assurance that the purpose of this data retention was to fight crime (such as terrorism and paedophilia).

Journalists were the most vocal in the disagreement, saying it meant anonymous sources would stop coming forward with information for fear of being exposed, which would prevent journalists from reporting on stories that exposed truths to the public. Media Watch did a story on the data retention bill focusing on the journalists’ perspective, explaining exactly why they were so against the bill.

My opinion of the data retention bill, at first, was that while I agree it would be effective in catching criminals, I didn’t really want my actions to be scrutinised by the government. I tried to convince myself that the bill was worth it. Who cares if the government has access to my data if it means they can stop terrible things from happening? After a discussion with friends, I asked myself this question:

“If I’m not doing anything wrong, then why should I be worried? Why should I care?”

But still I had an uneasy feeling about being watched through my technology (companies already do that enough to collect data for marketing).

I did some research to try to answer my own question, and the best answer came in the form of a TED Talk (as they often do). It is a 20 minute answer, but I assure you it is worth your time.

What Glenn Greenwald revealed to me in his talk was the power surveillance has over human behaviour. Being watched is uncomfortable. Surveillance causes people to change how they act, because those actions are being scrutinised.

dataveillance definitionThis is why surveillance, especially dataveillance, is an issue. People are used to a lack of privacy in public. There are surveillance cameras in stores and streets, people around could be watching, filming or taking pictures, and much more. But dataveillance occurs in the home, where people are used to having privacy. Having their digital actions monitored is an invasion of that privacy, and this is changing the way people act at home, the place they should feel most comfortable and free. This is why surveillance is an issue, and this is why the data retention bill should be challenged by the public.

After realising my immense dissatisfaction with the bill, I began to research those also opposed.

The Australian Privacy Foundation (APF) has been against the bill from the start. On the 1st of May they wrote a letter to Simon Corbell, ACT Attorney-General, concerning the bill. This letter included a section titled “Data Retention Bill Fails Every Test.” One of the points they make here is:

“The proposals would have serious negative impacts on normal people, and business”

This shows the damaging effect this dataveillance would have on the public, and the APF has evidence to prove it.

The government is not adhering to the APF’s suggestion that the proposal be rejected, despite the evidence they have been presented with.

The public must fight with the AFP to ensure this “mass electronic surveillance proposal” is not passed into law. If we don’t we’ll never be able to feel comfortable using technology again.


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Authors intentions: Viewing Suffering (Week 3 Topic)

Viewing pictures of other peoples’ suffering can be hard. Not just because you might be affected by the image, but because you might not know how to react when it comes to viewing suffering.

There are a few questions to consider when viewing other peoples’ suffering:

What response is desired by the author of the content? What should the suffering mean?

If suffering makes us feel so good – for feeling so bad – what incentive is there to end it?

Is looking repeating or extending the torture? OR

Does not looking deny the victims the recognition and sympathy they deserve?

All of these questions prove at least one thing: Looking is POWERFUL!

I will attempt to answer the first question in this posttime-afghan-mutilation. First lets look at this cover of Time Magazine (pictured right). This cover spurred a lot of controversy in America at the time. For some the picture could be seen as a symbol of the situation in Afghanistan, and therefore they would want soldiers sent to fix the situation. For some the image could be seen as propaganda, and those people would be angry at the government and at TIME for using this woman for the government’s purpose. For others the image could be seen as TIME’s grab for attention, a brutal image to catch the audience’s eye and encourage them to buy the copy. These people would be quite disgusted with TIME’s use of the image, and the purpose they  have for the suffering.

This image is a perfect example of needing to consider the author’s intent. TIME wanted this image to grab attention. Whether they cared about the situation in Afghanistan or not, the image’s intent was to increase the number of copies bought.

pulitzer prize-vietnam photoOn the left is a photograph that won the Pulitzer prize. The image captures “the devastation caused by the American napalm bombing during the Vietnam War.

The intentions of the author also need to be considered for this image. The photo was obviously taken in a terrible time, with children running away from a toxic cloud on the road. Considering this, how did the photographer have time to take the image, and why was he not intervening with the soldiers who seem to be casually herding the children down the street. Of course, he may have wanted to capture the moment to show as evidence of the American soldiers’ actions during the time, and had no means of intervening at the time. But as we view this image, there is no way of knowing that for sure.

Emotions that are brought up when viewing an image of suffering are a natural response. However, we must consider whether the author intended for those emotions to be the response, and whether those emotions benefit the author, or show respect for the victims suffering.

 


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Connecting with my audience: media, audience and place

Over the past nine weeks I have learned a lot about the concepts of media, audience and place. I have realised that not only are these concepts a large part of every-day life for people all around the world, but they are also very closely linked. What would media be without an audience? Where is the audience when they consume and absorb this media, and how is this significant? To some people, this might sound unimportant. Why not study something that can change the world? Surely something scientific would be of more use than understanding the relationship between media, audience and place. But to me that isn’t the case. I think entertainment is integral to the happiness of the human race, and as corny as that may sound, I do believe that media provides an irreplaceable type of enjoyment. In addition to this, media has also proved to be extremely useful in many ways. For this reason, I believe research into these concepts is important, for both the media producers as well as the audience.

Keeping up with changes and advances in technology and media is an important part of understanding media, audience and place. For example, TV technology as well as the culture of TV watching has changed a lot over the years. Interviewing my mum about her experiences with television really helped me to understand the extent to which media and technology (especially television) have evolved. This interview also led to my understanding of the importance of culture and norms when it comes to media, audience and place. The technologies, media platforms, and media content are important, but more important are the interactions the audience has with that media. I found it interesting how these interactions changed depending on where the audience was viewing the content. For example, going to the movies is consumption of media in a public place. Usually sitting in a dark room, without talking and paying attention to something else is considered anti-social behaviour. However the addition of media, an audience and a certain context (place) makes this situation perfectly normal.

public-watchingThe cinema is obviously a public space, but with media and technology advances it is now hard to clearly define public and private spaces. Mobile devices allow people to access media in public spaces, whilst still being private. I found this concept interesting because the use of mobile devices has led to people acting more privately in public, and the use of devices at home has led to people acting more publicly in private. I believe this because activity online is a public action. This is supported by Mackie-Mason and Lesk (2011), who believe complete privacy is not possible online. This is interesting because this means people are sharing things publicly online, however they may not feel comfortable with the people around them (in a public space) viewing this content over their shoulder. My interactions with other bloggers further confirmed my belief that people are acting more privately (through media technologies) in public spaces.

I also find it interesting the amount of media consumption that now occurs at schools, which leads me to the concept of media multitasking. Many students take their laptops to university as though it’s a limb they can’t live without. Many researchers (such as Jeong, Hwang, Wang and Tchernev) believe the use of mobile devices during classes (aka media multitasking) can actually hinder a student’s learning rather than assist it. I relate closely to this concept because I prefer to take notes in a book when watching lectures because I feel media platforms and technology can be too distracting.

What I find most interesting about the concepts of media, audience and place is how they relate to me and the things I do. These concepts affect and are part of my every-day life. This blog, for example, encompasses all of these elements. I am using media to try to reach, connect with and even inspire an audience. This audience comes from everywhere. As my statistics show, my blog has had visitors from USA, South Africa, Malaysia, Australia and many other countries. Some of these people just view my posts, but others like (favourite) them, and a small amount even comment on them. This blog may be a requirement of my university degree, but the fact that people actually read my posts and like the ideas I have is an incredible feeling. Connecting with a public audience is very difficult, especially when you’re not sure exactly how to write a post that people will relate to and understand. Making your blog look nice and easy to navigate is a good first step, but ensuring the content will attract an audience takes a lot more effort. I use a lot of tags with my blog posts because it provides my audience with an idea of what each post is about. Tags are also useful because it attracts audience members who are just researching the elements that my post encompasses. Twitter is another good way to reach an audience. I tweet a link to my blog posts when I publish them to let my Twitter followers know I have been writing about a new topic. Facebook can be another good way to attract an audience. I don’t really link my posts on Facebook unless I think they are about a very interesting topic. This is because my Facebook friends are more of an audience I know on a personal level, and knowing they are reading and critiquing my blog is a bit intimidating. Connecting with an audience is really important to me and I have tried to make the design and content of my blog appeal to the widest possible audience.

I feel I have achieved a connection with a public audience because since the start of this session 13 more people have followed my blog, and many have commented in response to my posts. As I have written each week about media, audience and place, I definitely feel my blog has evolved, and my understanding of media, audience and place has evolved with it.


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Australian’s lose pride when it comes to Australian cinema

russell-crowe-australian-film

Attending the cinema is a popular social activity. In Australia, an average of 69% of people attend the cinema at least once per year (Screen Australia 2012). But how many of these people are watching content created locally? Australian films are struggling in their local market, according to Papadopoulos, but why? Verhoeven argues that there isn’t enough evidence to suggest Australians aren’t going to see local films at the cinema because they dislike them. She believes there are many factors that could contribute to this lack of viewing, such as marketing techniques and timing (2014).

Although I agree that marketing and timing are major factors that can affect the success of films at the cinema, I believe there are obvious feelings people have towards Australian films that can’t be ignored. Unfortunately for the Australian film industry, their local audience seems to have a rather negative view of their productions as a whole. I know this because my partner is one of those audience members. However he is not the only one, I know several people who don’t value Australian films at the same rate as ones that originate from the USA or UK.

To understand the reasoning behind this aversion towards Australian films, I asked my partner exactly why he thought so negatively of them. His main reasons were based on his experiences with Australian films he has watched in the past. He said they felt cheap and the acting wasn’t at a very high standard. He said these are the reasons he avoids Australian films. He admitted that American films can sometimes be like this as well, but he believed this occurred a lot less often than with Australian films.

I was arguing with him about the quality of Australian films, and said that not all of them could be as bad as he thought. As a joke he replied:

“yeah, only 93.4% of them are that bad, and I can’t be bothered to go looking for the good ones.”

Now, if you are a big fan of Australian films, you’re probably really disliking my partner right now. But before you start writing hateful comments, I think its worth noting that a large portion of the Australian population is likely to have the same opinion. I base this on recent Australian box office earnings. For example, the Australian film ‘These Final Hours‘ earned only $206,727 in Australian box offices over its first weekend in cinemas. The producers were expecting over $1 million based on good responses to marketing. This could not compare to the earnings of ‘Lucy‘ ($4.6m) and ‘Hercules‘ ($1.4m) in that weekend, both of which had already been out for several weeks (mUmBRELLA 2014). Australians are choosing American films over Australian films every day, and this general assumption that all Australian films are cheap and therefore a lower quality is really hurting Australian film production. In this case, the Australian public was definitely mistaken. On IMDb (Internet Movie Database) ‘These Final Hours’ was rated at 7.2 out of 10. This was much higher than both ‘Lucy’, rated 6.6, and ‘Hercules’, rated 6.4 (IMDb 2014). Rotten Tomatoes (often considered a more reliable rating system) rated ‘These Final Hours’ even higher than IMDb.

As a marketing student I can’t help suggesting that the entire Australian film industry needs to be rebranded for Australians to change their negative connotations with Australian films.

References

Maddox, G 2014, Not the end of the world, but box office slump of These Final Hours sparks soul searching, Sydney Morning Herald, viewed 26 September 2014, <http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/not-the-end-of-the-world-but-box-office-slump-of-these-final-hours-sparks-soul-searching-20140806-100oc7.html#ixzz3EL7pvMEk>.

mUmBRELLA 2014, Aussie film These Final Hours fails to find an audience on opening weekend, viewed 26 September 2014, <http://mumbrella.com.au/aussie-film-these-final-hours-fails-to-find-audience-242637>.

news.com.au 2014, Local audiences snub Australian filmmakers yet Hollywood loves them, viewed 25 September 2014, <http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/movies/local-audiences-snub-australian-filmmakers-yet-hollywood-loves-them/story-fnk853hr-1227057559133>.

Papadopoulos, T 2014, An Aussie Film Decline? The Reasons are a Dog’s Breakfast, Crikey, viewed 26 September 2014, <http://dailyreview.crikey.com.au/an-aussie-film-decline-the-reasons-are-a-dogs-breakfast/12637>.

Screen Australia 2014, Percentage of people who had been to the cinema in the last 12 months, and average number of visits, 1974–2012, Australian Government, viewed 26 September 2014, <http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/research/statistics/wcrmattend.aspx>.


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Self-regulation in media and advertising

Everyone who has used media has encountered some kind of regulation or restrictions at some point. You might have signed up for a competition and you had to accept the terms and conditions. You might have tried to watch a video on a website only to find that it wasn’t available for viewing in your country. You might have tried to go to a movie that was rated MA 15+ when you were 14, and were denied access. There are many types of restrictions and regulations when it comes to media, both at home and in public.

Personally I have encountered many media restrictions. What I find more interesting however is the restrictions media producers have themselves, especially in the public space. As a marketing student, I have recently been studying creative advertising and the types of regulations and restrictions they encounter in business. One concept often visited in both the advertising industry and the media industry is self-regulation.

Self-regulation is an environment where the government or the state formally hands over the power to regulate, so that the industry itself is actually regulating, in effect empowering the industry or business community to establish its own standards or principles (Spence & Van Heekeren 2005).

Self-regulation gives industries more freedom when it comes to producing content. In my opinion, for self-regulation to be successful, industries need to find a balance between creativity and ethics. Campbell (1999) believes there are certain factors that are key to the success of self-regulation in any industry. First, the regulators must have expertise and motivation. Second, the regulatory staff must have authority to enforce rules as well as review decisions or suggestions. Third, relatively narrow rules should be implemented to ensure standards are met.

A study of self-regulatory programs in many different industries confirmed Campbell’s third hypothesis. The study found that the programs with the most subjective standards experienced the most difficulty in implementation (Michael in Campbell 1999). I believe this supports my opinion that a balance is needed. Having standards that meet ethical guidelines for the industry is important when self-regulating. This is because ethics are often a good basis for what is suitable to present to the public (at least in media and advertising industries). These ethical guidelines need to be balanced with creativity. This is important because a safe advertisement or a safe media production may not be creative enough to gain the interest of the audience.

An example of an imbalanced self-regulation advertisement can be seen in the billboard that was up in Sydney for a period of time (shown below).

Why is this burger ad so offensive?

This image was presented on a billboard in Sydney to promote Bondi Junction’s Goodtime Burgers. This advertisement created a lot of controversy in the public, especially in the female demographic.

A lot of the time advertisers want to create controversy because it means more people will remember and recognise the brand. In this case, the advertisement was viewed by at least 500,000 people online (Meryment 2013, DT). According to Goodtime Spokeswoman Laura Brown, creating controversy was not the intention of the advertisement. The advertisement is “fun” and they “wanted to give people a laugh” (Meryment 2013, DT). However, this advertisement was definitely a risk. Using nudity or sex doesn’t align with ethical regulations, and therefore this advertisement does not have a good balance between creativity and ethics.

After many complaints the government took the billboard down. This is an example not only of the kinds of restrictions there are on media in general, but also the restrictions media can have in public spaces. If this advertisement had only been shown online or in magazines, there is a question of whether the advertisement would have been removed in that case.


References

Spence, E & Van Heekeren, B 2005, Advertising Ethics, Pearson, New York.

Meryment, E 2013, Look closer: cheeky burger campaign has some spitting chips, Daily Telegraph, 14 December, viewed 19 September 2014, <http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/look-closer-cheeky-burger-campaign-has-some-spitting-chips/story-fni0cx12-1226782712974?nk=38982bc6263f06d649ccd840b06153ee>.

Campbell, A 1999, Self Regulation and the Media, Federal Communications Law Journal, vol. 51, no. 3, pp. 711-772.