Final Exam Question #1

Elizabeth Scefonas     

Word Count: 556.

            With the coming of the new technological age emerged a major shift in the communications industry. The advancement in technology, business theories, economic models and human thought all opened up a multitude of pathways for media mediums to flourish. After the American War of Independence the role of the press in society, particularly newspapers, experienced a massive change. At the close of the war in 1783 there was an estimated number of 43 newspapers operating. The importance of print papers during this time is reflected in the First Amendment of the U.S Constitution that guaranteed freedom of speech and the press (pg. 319). The invention of steam engines in the 1830’s allowed print media to be produced more rapidly and in higher quantities at a relatively inexpensive cost. The increase in access caused an increase in literacy throughout the nation, which in turn spurred a rise in demand for the product. As papermaking technology became more efficient newspaper chains emerged in order to cater to a growing desire for the public to receive immediate and in depth coverage of events. These chains had enormous influence over the public and were able to collectively produce complex stories to a massive number of people.

            Following the initial boom of the newspaper industry they began to experience some setbacks. Starting in the 1990’s print news saw a decline in readership that can be attributed to the overwhelming growth of technology. Information that was once valued for its permanence and credibility quickly became valued for its convenience and utility.  Many chains lost classified advertising during this time to online e-commerce sites such as Ebay.com and Craigslist.com (pg. 263) which was economically detrimental. Technological convergence allowed for quick and easy access to information and a decreasing need for attention span. With less people purchasing newspapers, companies began utilizing multimedia resources by covering certain topics online. Although this was able to cut production costs and maintain followers, the online business model was slow to adapt. Significant generational differences and increasing competition caused immense pressure for newspapers that some argue they may still not recover from. 

            To provide adequate coverage of events and to keep up with technological convergence many newspapers have developed high-tech and extensive online branches. The Baltimore Sun for example uses multimedia and reader participation as part of it’s strategy to converge. Some features of the website are access to videos, pictures, text, search abilities, and links to other sites. These all give readers the ability to access information in different ways that most convenience them. For example instead of purchasing a printed newspaper and reading a lengthy article, one can now watch a “recap” video online within seconds. Instead of flipping through a hard-copy, people can search for the exact story they want to access and view it immediately. Convergence has also made users have a more predominant role in the media. Instead of idly receiving messages we now want to interact and broadcast our own ideas. The Baltimore Sun provides readers with the ability to participate in the news. Commenting features, “ask the editor”, polling, subscription access, and the ability to submit op-eds are all examples of how the paper incorporates the public. By using media technology in this way papers are remaining viable. As the communications industry is changing so is human thought and how we process information. Image

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Celebrity Web Blog Post: Victor Cruz

Cruz

By: Elizabeth Scefonas

New York Giants star Victor Cruz is one of the many celebrities that use social media sites such as Twitter to promote themselves as well as other brands, products and companies. Many of his tweets are self-promotional and focus on appearances he’s making, his everyday interests/thoughts, and links to articles that he’s featured in. The rest of his tweets talk about products he suggests his followers should check out. For example one tweet reads: “Make sure you visit @tina_Catherine for all your eyewear in NYC!”. These help spread the word about otherwise unknown brands and make Cruz seem down-to-earth and relatable. However, what stood out to me the most about Cruz’s Twitter feed was his advertising for Foot Locker. The Super Bowl Champion has teamed up with them for a “Kickstagram Cruzday Tuesday” contest. To participate users must follow @TeamVic and @footlocker on Instagram or twitter and upload pictures of their sneakers for a chance to win a $250 Foot Locker gift card. Every Tuesday Cruz choses an image that appeals to him the most and reposts it on his account as well as the Foot Locker official website. This type of promotion gives the audience a chance to build a more intimate relationship with the athlete while also deepening their exposure to Foot Locker products.

Ad Analysis: Smell Like a Man, Man

By: Elizabeth Scefonas



For a company to sell their products and to create widespread brand recognition advertising is critical. With the right marketing techniques a fairly unknown name can become a globally known figure. Good advertising needs to be appealing to viewers, mentally stimulating, relatable, and more importantly memorable. In 2010 Old Spice aired an advertising campaign titled “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” that was able to breathe new life into a dated brand. The over-the top humorous visuals and scripts along with the modern integration of media outlets makes the ads almost impossible to forget.

The Shulton Company founded the Old Spice brand, originally called Early American Old Spice, in 1934. Inspired by the spice trade a colonial theme was developed by trademarking nautical images such as the colonial sailing ship still used today. In June of 1990 Procter & Gamble bought them out and throughout the 2000’s introduced a variety of deodorants, body sprays and body washes. The brand boasts a unique scent that over the years has become subconsciously associated with having a “masculine quality”. In 2010 a groundbreaking ad campaign was launching titled “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”. Realizing the importance of a reinvention the company reportedly spent $11.4 million on the advertisements, which was a significant increase from the $7.5 million spent in 2009. The new approach aimed to target women, who are estimated to buy up to 70% of shower gel for men, while still maintaining the products masculine essence. Actor Isaiah Mustafa was chosen to appear in the ads and his goal was to create a “very smooth, confident look”. To support the immediate success of “The Old Spice Man” Isaiah appeared in a series of short videos on Youtube in which he answered questions received directly from the public. Within a few weeks the ads amassed 13 million views on Youtube, creating widespread brand awareness and a 51% increase in body wash sales.

The commercial I looked at in particular was the first to air. It starred Isaiah and introduced his physically alluring and charming image to the world. He welcomes the audience by saying, “Hello Ladies” as he stands in a bathroom wearing nothing but a towel and exposing his chiseled upper torso. While holding the body wash he begins the shpeal: “Look at your man. Now back at me… Sadly, he isn’t me, but if he stopped using ladies’ scented body wash and switched to Old Spice, he could smell like he’s me”. Then with one crafty camera take and creative scene production the set transforms from a bathroom, to a sailboat, to a beach were Mustafa is sitting atop a white horse. The script throughout the 30-second ad is calculated to show how the body wash can change your man into the ideal “manly man” who is buying his women extravagant gifts like diamonds and tickets to “her favorite show”. The ad closes with their well known slogan “Smell Like A Man, Man. Old Spice” written out across the screen while the easily recognizable Old Spice jingle plays in the background.

Old Spice "I'm on a horse"

The main ideological message here is essentially that if you use this body wash you will become more masculine and therefore be more appealing to women. The Old Spice Man promotes this unrealistic idea by depicting the “ideal man” as an Adonis who exudes strength, power, wealth and physical superiority. He causes men to be envious of him and women to desire him. With Mustafa as the face of the campaign Old Spice was able to create a persona that was appealing, easily recognized and robust enough to leave a lasting impression. Along with brilliant casting, Old Spice used several other tactical techniques to maximize its impact on the audience. Instead of using conventional language the script uses short, nonsensical, declarative sentences. For example, the 30-second spot ends stating, “I’m on a horse”. It is an obvious statement that almost crosses the line from funny to ridiculous. However, it is impossible to say that this post-modern style of talking doesn’t come across as witty and unmistakable. The fast-paced and fluid set changes are masterly crafted and visually stimulating. The yacht scene not only symbolizes the brands trademark logo but also suggests that the man possesses an heir of elegance or wealth. This is one of several gender biases addressed by the commercial. The ad is able to find some of its humor in the way that these gender stereotypes are blatantly shown. This technique is effective because it targets not only men, the primary users of the product, but also the women whom are typically the ones buying the product.

One of the most remarkable accomplishments “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” had was how it diversified the channels in which consumers were able to receive its message. The integration of TV, online and social media perfectly adapted to the holistic nature of the modern technological age and tapped into a wider range of potential buyers. Breaking away from superficial advertising and actually incorporating the audience allowed Old Spice to connect with people on a more intimate level. Through nontraditional media sources such as Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter, viewers could interact with the brand rather than just blindly absorbing information about the product. The revitalization and ingenuity of the campaign are reflected in the numbers. Sales rose 55% in the 3 months following the first commercial release and rose 107% after the follow up series of Youtube videos. Sales however were not the only thing to prosper. Within 3 days of release the Old Spice skit drew in 5.2 million views on Youtube and increased the companies twitter followers from 3,000 to 48,000.

Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination

By: Elizabeth Scefonas

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  I chose to read a review by Viola Lasmana on the book Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum. The review outlines the text by broadly describing sections, chapters, literary techniques, and main ideas used by the author. The use of direct examples and short quotations from the book strengthens this brief summary and shows the viewpoint the author takes. The review is for the most part a positive one, praising Kirshenbaum for an enlightening and unfamiliar look at preexisting media ideology. If I were interested in the topic addressed in Mechanisms, this review would definitely influence me to read the text in full. However, I found the writing used in the critic to be a bit confusing for someone who does not have a previous understanding of the subject material. Viola Lasmana uses run-on sentences, terminology and references to other authors and theorists that essentially meant nothing to me. If the writing style was simpler I may have grasped the concepts better and have been even more inclined to read Kirshenbaum’s book. 

For more information about the author, here is a link to his blog.

Media Leader Bio – Marshall McLuhan

By Elizabeth Scefonas

Marshall Mcluhan pic

Marshall McLuhan, born in Canada in 1911, was a renowned media theorist whose analysis of media systems and their impact on consumers was revolutionary for his time. McLuhan’s interest in media analysis originated from reflecting on his previously attained education at Cambridge University. He deduced that the University faculty used a technique he called the “training of perception” which habituated students to perceive learn in a certain way.  The basis of McLuhan’s the theory was that by using a “global neural net” humans can extend their nervous system through media devices, a phenomena he called “Global Village”. Building on this, he began to explore how viewing media modifies the delicate ratios between our physical senses. In 1951, he published The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man, which delved into the effect of media and advertising on pop culture. Afterwards McLuhan’s focus began to shift to how communication media influenced people. In his book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man he coined the phrase “the medium is the message” and argued that the type of media itself is more influential than the meaning behind. He believed that social media devices are so influential because they effect how we habitually process information. McLuhan’s work in communication theory continued up to his death in 1980. His concepts of media theory are still utilized today and he is even known for predicting the invention of the World Wide Web 30 years before its invention in his book The Gutenberg Galaxy. For more in depth biographical information on Marshall McLuhan visit:

http://www.marshallmcluhan.com/biography/

http://www.nndb.com/people/869/000047728/