Tis’ the Season to be Jolly?

Halloween has come and gone and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Or so we think?

After watching this week’s Dancing with the Stars, not only was I highly entertained and impressed as usual with the skills of these celebrities, but I also discovered a treasure chest of material in Justin Bieber’s guest performance on the show singing Never Say Never and conveniently singing along side Boys II Men (whom I haven’t seen in what seems like ages) a Christmas themed song from Justin Bieber’s upcoming new album, Under the Mistletoe.

Do you see anything strange here? I’ll give you a hint. Why is Justin Bieber singing on a dancing show?

It seems like Christmas is coming earlier than we are expecting.

In the years that have come to past, the three major holiday seasons: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas has always been marked by a carnival of what I consider traditional marketing. With advertisements on TV, the plethora of goods in the special aisles of CVS or Walgreens, holiday programming like Charlie Brown and the [insert number of days] of [insert appropriate holiday here] movies, radio announcements and don’t forget those Christmas songs way before the season is even upon us, we are constantly reminded the high consuming season is here.

There are a few things I see in the appearance of Justin Bieber that’s murketing for a number of things.

First, there’s the fact that Justin Bieber did a guest live performance. As much as the live audience and those of us watching at home enjoyed his performance, it wasn’t just any live performance, but one that promotes himself and his new album. For this time of the season with Christmas upon us, it’s more salient to listeners. As people get into the Christmas spirit and think about what items to buy, Justin Bieber’s album will already be floating in the minds of individuals before the regular promotional season actually starts.

Secondly, the show itself and the broadcasting producers behind it also benefit from Justin Bieber’s appearance on the show. As one of the big teen throbs, it further attracts a larger viewing audience and better ratings, which in a nutshell means more profit. As I watched the program, I almost missed the show’s quick promotion of Macy’s Stars of Dance event to promote the television premier of Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour by Cirque de Soliel.

Weaving performances, shows, and products across multiple media areas captures the murkiness in marketing today. Whatever one thing we watch or listen to can be working as marketing for not one but multiple products that in the end coaxes the consumer to indulge.

One man’s life is another man’s…profit?

As I was talking one night with one of my friends, he sent me a link to something I found to be very interesting. It was a geniunely inspirational commencement speech made by Steve Jobs celebrating with Standford’s Graduating Class of 2005 as they embarked on their next journey of life. I bet at that time it didn’t cross anyone’s mind that six years later, on October 5, 2011, that the brilliant mastermind behind the brand of Apple iPod would pass away.

For the sake of time, I followed my friend’s suggestion and read the last three paragraphs of his speech. There was power behind those words, but while I continued to think of his insightful advice, I started thinking about something else. It’s no mistake that Steve Jobs was a highly revered person in the technological and business world. If his ideas and images were so influential, then of course the death of this legendary man would also play a part in our topic of murketing.

When an ordinary person dies, only a small number of people know about it, right? Condolence cards and invitations to wakes are sent and the funeral comes and goes without much ado, the memory of the deceased held in the hearts of the individual’s closest friends and family. But what happened when Steve Jobs passed away? After a quick Google search following my curiosity, I found this: an influx of Steve Jobs memorabilia items on sell in less than 24 hours after his death and the advancement of certain special products.

Really guys, really? After all, this is a “Stop the Presses” moment.

Of course, putting his picture as the front cover of TIMES Magazine rather than, say, a deceased iPod (for symbolic imagery) or a different picture wouldn’t work as well to draw in the audience to buy the product. Created T-shirts, old magazine photos in magazines, and old figures have skyrocketed in price on sites like E-bay according to one website, DailyDot.com. Another one advises the public to beware of scams related to this. That aside, I’m sure other magazines such as TIMES, depicted the iconic image of Steve Jobs on their covers not just to pay tribute to the man himself, but to also use his influential presence to sell their own items to.

And what about Apple? Did his death have influence on the sales of the new iPhone 4S and iOS5? According to this article from PC World, there was some influence. How many people out there who didn’t consider getting the iPhone 4S got it just in Steve Jobs memory? I can’t answer that question. But I do know from some of my friends’ Facebook statuses, his death was a contributing factor. As the article noted “more than 4 million phones were sold in just 3 days”. The combination of marketing and planning, the initial release of the phone, his death, and the release of iOS5 have critics miffed by the remarkable sales. As Natatcha wrote on her Facebook status, “iphone 4S (iPhone 4 Steve).”

*Instead of an Apple “bite” it’s Steve Jobs profile.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence. Or maybe it is the iPhone 4 Steve. It’s just too murky for me to figure out so I’ll let you decide.

Captain American Pride

Remember when Captain America: The First Avenger came out earlier this year during the summer? What about the Green Lantern that came out around that time too? Well, even if you didn’t go see either movie like I did, you and I were probably very aware of its presence via other marketing outlets besides dramatic trailers aired on TV.

After stumbling across this article on Captain America on the USA Today’s online website, I couldn’t help but think that there was evidence of murketing at hand.

In Rob Walker’s book Buying In, he addresses the phenomenon of lifestyles and cultures of specific groups such as underground skateboarders and musicians becoming huge brand names that are not only associated with the original members that started it but attracting individuals who aren’t regular members to the activity. Instead, they are drawn by the meaning that they associate with the brand’s image.

I see two things going on here. Within the advertising efforts to publicize Captain America (Green Lantern too) there is a creation of a following towards the superhero themed brands for people who honestly weren’t originally loyal fans from the beginning. The other thing is the meaning that is now associated with Captain America and other superheroes of the like are spreading to the public through murketing.

The image in question today is that of the group of comic readers and superhero followers who have demonstrated their passion for the culture while others looked at them as seemingly uncool nerds. Those individuals who have been avid fans of superhero comics before the film industry started creating superhero movies know what it’s like to be looked down upon. However, with the subsequent years that have passed since the first release of a superhero movie with advanced graphics (Spider-man), somehow it’s perfectly fine to like comics and superheroes.

Let’s face it it’s cool to be a nerd.

To stand out against the other superhero films because face it, they are getting tiring, the patriotic theme market campaign mentioned in the article made Captain America even more noticeable than previous films. Companies like Dunkin Donuts had an American themed beverage sporting the Captain America logo on it. Why not sip a beverage while contemplating seeing the movie? But nothing tops the one thing I saw during the summer that REALLY got me. The number of guys wearing T-shirts either with the Captain American symbol or hats with the Green Lantern emblem increased significantly.

All of this for a movie?

I’ve always been a fan of superheroes but not to the extent of how it’s being consumed today. But if it’s a way to show my patriotism, maybe I should go buy a Captain American T-shirt too.

On College Campuses

I would like to think my college campus is unique in its own right with the homey location, diverse student body, party scene, interesting academic classes, and the many opportunities to get involved all over campus. However, when it comes to student groups and organizations it’s different. If other schools are like mine then every club is competing against one another and vying for the attention of potential members from newcomers and oldcomers alike.

With personal experience being in a student run culture club, not only are we trying to recruit enthusiastic individuals who share similar interests and will serve the club but we also work to host a variety of interesting events throughout the year. You would think that after the pandemonium of student fairs it would get easier right? Well, think again. Throughout the year numerous events are held and it’s not uncommon to have at least five events in one day. A student on campus has many choices to choose from. So how does one club stand out more than the others?

Doesn’t this sound familiar? Student organizations and groups remind me a lot like the consumer market these days. You could even say that like markets today, it’s overcrowded with too many choices and as Buying In’s author Walker addresses in his book as the ‘Pretty Good’ problem, the events put on by these various student clubs are pretty good in quality.

Yet, the way they are able to distinguish from each other is the onslaught of advertising that goes on around campus via Facebook, campus news publication, and the main method of all, flyers and posters. Just by walking around campus, one is exposed to the fliers that decorate the walls in academic buildings, dining halls, designated flier areas like the steps by our main library. The ones that get noticed go between the very unique and what people find recognizable.

Take these two fliers, one from the Japanese Culture club I’m apart of and one from UC Berkeley. What do these two have in common?

Answer is the use of iconic images or brands from TV shows and movies.

We are hardly aware of doing it but we use marketing used on us to market our own messages. In the case of my club’s flier, beyond Pikachu being of Japanese origin and the main character of a popular show amongst children and young adult fans, it has little to do with the club’s actual intentions, whi is bringing uncommon knowledge about the culture, practices, and history of Japan to the student body while UC Berkeley’s objective is to attract a crowd to discuss racial issues.

I’m sure like many school’s clubs out there, we do it because we know others will have an easier time associating to something they’ve seen before than to something that’s unfamiliar to them. It’s a habit that we’re all guilty of.

Coming to an inbox near you!

How are Hotmail, Hulu, and Facebook interconnected? I’ll tell you how.

As a relatively new member of Hulu, one of the first things I subscribed to is a short show called “The Morning After”. It’s about six minutes long airing daily from Monday through Friday and is described as “a smart, pop culture “snack” to help get Hulu users quickly up to date on the latest and greatest in entertainment news and celebrity gossip. So, I have the luxury of having a link to the program sent to my e-mail inbox every day!

Not seeing the picture yet? Just wait for it.

The program, with its two witty co-host Ginger and Brian, give viewers the latest news and critiques about the continued series and up and coming new shows. It’s also a daily six minute TV show promotion brought right to your e-mail. Not necessarily the direct advertising that many of us are used to it nevertheless makes viewers aware of the new media they should be indulging.

Recently, on this show, starting with this video from the 11th of October, they have been encouraging fans of the show to visit their page on Facebook for a chance to receive a Fall TV Makeover by using previews from two new HBO TV shows. Who wouldn’t want their very own makeover? Of course, focusing it on two lucky individuals makes it seem rare enough to attract attention and stand out enough to receive this seemingly rare treat.

Not only asking the public for their input on past and present shows that they enjoy in order to give other individuals this golden opportunity; the way they match you with your perfect show is by checking out your Facebook profile. There not an automated service mistaking your interests and referring shows that don’t fit you. By looking at your interests, hobbies, favorite TV shows and books, and more they are able to give you the best recommendation of what new show you should be checking out this Fall.

Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself:

http://www.hulu.com/watch/287655/the-morning-after-tue-oct-11-2011?src=h&kme=Link+Html+Queue#play-queue

From your personal e-mail to internet TV to social networking sites, the borders between internet entities continue to blur the lines between clear advertising and murky marketing by the use of each other.

All in the name of being recognized on a TV show, I suppose.

I hope you enjoyed your few seconds of fame Kristi and Leonel!

In your homes?! In your schools?!

Are you a parent? Take a look around your house. If you go to school, take a look around your classrooms. Work in an office? Do the same thing. If you’re a boarding student like I am, go ahead and look around your room. See anything interesting or out of the ordinary?  Probably not, right? Well, I did when I looked around mine.

Take a look at this poster.

Despite the fact that I have a poster in my room that reads “School is Fun” (Can you blame me, my mother put up educational posters of state flags and birds in my room as an adolescent), this seemingly adorable looking banner of animals is actual murketing.  After having this banner up in my room for four months now, I realized this just the other day.

If you’re unfamiliar with the brand, that’s completely fine, because it’s actually a popular brand sold in Japan called Suzy Zoo. You’re probably wondering how a brand from Japan is related to all this. Well, change my wall to a wall in a classroom for grade school students and change the characters of Suzy Zoo to say familiar characters from Pixar. If you can imagine young children seeing this poster, responding to it, and going home to their parents, only to go shopping with them another day and seeing those same familiar characters on notebooks, calendars, backpacks, clothes, and other goods, then you will begin to understand how marketers use these subtle methods that children are unable to discern easily from the traditional commercial advertisements that everyone is used to.

The film, Consuming Kids, (mentioned in previous posts) explores in more detail how advertisements saturate everyone’s life especially those of children even going as far as following them to school where you think they would be free from marketers’ agendas. Right? Wrong. Did you know some schools have taken students on field trips…to the mall?

It is exactly as one man stated in the movie, “They call that education?”

As much as school is a learning place, there is a lot more advertising being done there then you would think from sponsors of big corporate companies like Pepsi and Coca-Cola to something as simple as a poster on the wall.

Something like my Suzy Zoo poster is harmless to someone like me that, let’s face it, knows better. But what about all the younger individuals who don’t have that knowledge?

Think about it.