Classmates’ blogs

First of all, what I noticed when I was looking at the blogs of my classmates, was the Dove commercials for real beauty. I found it on both Lucie’s (http://madblog7.wordpress.com/)  and Eva’s (http://evas-unyp.blogspot.com/) blog.  I think that Dove is doing a good job – trying to show how women really look and how the advertisements with skinny and perfect models affect not only mature women, but also teenage and younger girls.  I hope more and more ads will be like that.

Next issue I read about was the Virginia Tech Massacre (http://effectofvideogamesonchildren.blogspot.com/), where one student killed 32 people on campus and some people blamed RPG video games.  It is interesting to hear both sides, but I believe that it was not caused by the video games. The problem was the mental health condition of the student, which was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and the school not knowing it. I believe that schools should know the health condition of their students in order to help them and prevent such events.

Another interesting article is on Sanja’s blog (http://sanjailic.blogspot.com/). It is about how the media influence men’s bodies.  Usually we are told about the effects it has on woman’s perception of her body, but Sanja showed us the way it is influencing men. I believe both sexes should be considered when evaluating the negative effects of media on our bodies, not only women.

On Anna’s blog (http://akvablog.wordpress.com/) I found commercials related to what I talk about above (The Dove commercials) – pro social advertisements.  She chose very good examples. I only hope that this kind of advertisement are really successful and will help some people.

Last but not least I really like Barbora’s topic for blog – internet censorship. (http://internetcontentregulation.wordpress.com/) News and information generally are easy to spread over the internet. But not everybody likes this fact. The article about the issue in China with google was very interesting for me.  I have heard of it for the first time. But this issue is not solved yet and we will see how it will end.

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Buzzmarketing & Advertising

We see advertisement everywhere around us daily. Some people are not just laymen, they are professionals. Advertisement is an important part of marketing. It seems to us, that we have seen everything in ads and that all media are overloaded with commercials. It there a possibility to create something new and surprising? Yes, buzz marketing prove so. Buzz marketing uses creative and original ideas in advertisement. “Buzz” stands for stir, backwash, turmoil and gives impulse for discussions, conversations and contestation and gives reasons to spread it by mouth. It means that advertisement in buzz marketing must be clever, attractive, unusual, funny, catchy and remarkable (Hughes, 87).

According to Mark Hughes, buzz marketing and advertisement should use taboo (sex and lies), unusual, scandalous, humorous, remarkable, secretive (revealing secrets). The advantage of buzz marketing in advertisement is that people start to        promote the brand, service or the person, about which is the advertisement. These ads should be resourceful and creative. It is not easy to evoke “buzz”, when we have heard and seen everything, and at the same time do not break any laws or rules there might be for advertisement.

But what is buzz marketing in practice? Take American Idol in USA or Superstar in Czech and Slovak Republic. This program was watched by millions of viewers (abcmedianet.com) and then people shared their opinion with others, discussed details with friends, at work, school. This popularity was used by telecommunication companies, which enabled people to change these shows how they wished. This is how these companies gained their customers, not only during the airing, but also permanent customers and big amount of money. Isn’t it a manipulation from telecommunication companies? How many times did we become customers of some company thanks to the buzz marketing without realizing so? (Hughes, 63)

Another disputable issue in advertising and buzz marketing is contestation. If we take again as a example, American Idol, have you ever liked Simon Cowell and the way he treats the contestants? As a judge he is abrasive, insensitive and rough. It is clear that intention of the creators of American Idol is to create deliberately contestation, which creates intensity and drama. This makes the show exciting, full of emotions and that is what created publicity for this show. Could this approach be considered manipulative as well? Or are we used to drama in the news that we do not like programs without drama and tension? Are we able to watch shows that do not create intense emotions in us?

Another method that advertising is using are celebrities and authorities to promote a product. It is very common is Czech Republic and worldwide. It became so common, that nowadays we know that most of the celebrities did not choose to use this product because of its quality, but thanks to the big amount of money. Despite this, we can still see celebrity endorsements and now it has become more of an image issue. For example, Silvester Stalone is creating a certain image for Storm Watches. This may evoke special feeling for the owner of the watch – that they are part of privileged group of people. This method depends to which extent is an individual influenceable. This method could be still successful in the future, because majority of people like to reach or get near for some time to shiny world of celebrities.

Methods of buzz marketing and advertising are really versatile, but the question is if what is successful in USA could be also successful in Europe or other parts of the world, which do not share the same culture and values as USA. Could the civilized world live without advertisement? Can we image how would our world look like without it? Would we be more satisfied and  live a calm life or would we be stressed? Do we really need advertising?

Sources:

Hughes, Mark. Buzzmarketing: Get People to Talk about Your Stuff. New York: Portfolio, 2005. Print.

“Buzz Marketing.” Buzzmarketing.com — The Authority on Buzz Marketing. Web. 16 May 2010. <http://www.buzzmarketing.com/&gt;.

“ABC Medianet.” Internet Archive: Wayback Machine. Web. 16 May 2010. <http://web.archive.org/web/20070208132303/http://www.abcmedianet.com/pressrel/dispDNR.html?id=060204_11&gt;.

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Children and Advertising

Advertise to children or not? That is the question. Recently this topic has been widely discussed. Many authorities think that is it harmful for children.

I think very well written article about this issue is this one: http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/pediatrics;95/2/295.pdf . It says that advertising has an effect on children’s and adolescent’s use of cigarettes, alcohol and sexual behavior. It also states that “young children under 8 years of age developmentally are unable to understand the intent of advertisements and, in fact, accept advertising claims as true.” Adolescents are capable of understanding the difference between commercial and normal programming, however ads are still dangerous for their health. Adolescent drink more and smoke more cigarettes thanks to the advertisement.

The Committee on the Communication says that one possibility is total ban, but it would interfere with the right of free speech and I agree. Banning would not mean that children will not have an access to commercials and it would evoke protests from the advertisers. Better solution would be stricter enforcement of existing regulations that define the nature and content of educational programs and strict and heavy fines should be imposed when such violations are proved. I agree with other solutions – such as decreasing the number of commercials on children’s TV and that parents should educate children to be responsible and informed consumers. Hopefully, some change in advertising to children is coming soon.

Sources:

Committee on Communications. “Committee on Communication: Children, Adolescents, and Advertising.“ Web. 10 May 2010. <http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/pediatrics;95/2/295.pdf>.

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Act on the State Language and Advertising

Have you seen the latest advertisement by Humanic, which says “It’s okay, everybody’s looking at your shoes” (www.shoemanic.com)? Did it occur to you that it is not in the Czech language, but in English? Do you think it is discriminating people which do not speak English? Or is it a risk by the shoe producer company Humanic, that people who do not speak English will not understand such advertisement and therefore will not be successful in this group? Nevertheless it is the choice by Humanic – it is free to do so.  Not in Slovakia.

In 2009, an Act on the State Language of the Slovak Republic came into effect (ČTK). Among other things it is forbidding to use foreign languages in advertisement without the subsequent translation in Slovak language: “All signs, advertisements and notices intended to inform the public, particularly in retail shops, sporting facilities, restaurants, in streets, by and above roads, at airports, bus stations and railway stations, as well as in public transport vehicles, shall be presented in the state language. If they contain the text in other languages, the texts in another language shall be presented after the text in the state language and shall be contentually identical with the state language text. The text in another language shall be presented in the same or smaller font than the state language text.” (Act on the State Language of the Slovak Republic) That means the advertisement by Humanic and other advertisements in foreign language would not be allowed in Slovakia, if the translation into the Slovak language would be provided.

What if the creators of such advertisements do not wish to provide translation, or feel that the translation would not fit the advertisement? Isn’t it their choice to risk that some people in Slovakia would not understand the advertisement?

Another problem could be advertising in parts of Slovakia, where the minorities live. Why they should provide translation if they want to target only people from minorities who speak only the language of minorities? Or if they provide the translation, why it could not be smaller than the foreign language? Even the political parties start to protest by creating billboards – as you can see on the picture (www.pravda.sk).

Sources:

ČTK. “Na Slovensku Vstoupil v Platnost Jazykovy Za¡kon.”Ceske©Noviny.cz. 01 Sept. 2009. Web. 10 May 2010. <http://www.ceskenoviny.cz/zpravy/na-slovensku-vstoupil-v-platnost-jazykovy-zakon/395342&id_seznam=8353&gt;.

“Ministerstvo Kultúry SR – Zákon O štátnom Jazyku SR – úplné Znenie účinné Od 1. Septembra 2009 – Temp.” Ministerstvo Kultúry SR – Aktuality. Web. 10 May 2010. <http://www.culture.gov.sk/umenie/ttny-jazyk/legislatva/zkony/270/1995&gt;.

“Shoemanic.” Are You Shoemanic? | HUMANIC Online Shop | Schuhe. Web. 10 May 2010. <http://www.shoemanic.com&gt;.

Pravda.sk – Homepage – Správy, Ktorým Môžete Veriť. Web. 10 May 2010. <http://www.pravda.sk&gt;.

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Brainwashing and Advertisement

I was interested in this topic and to my surprise I found a lot of articles, which state that advertising is brainwashing and manipulating us. Take a look at this one: http://www.kfunigraz.ac.at/~pommer/cematerials/Handout%20-%20Advertising.pdf . It says that there are “three common tactics of manipulating us – 1. Image for sale, 2. Full of emotions, 3. Sex sells.” Let’s take a look at all three. First one – Image for sales – includes conditioning – if you buy the product you will look like this, etc. This is used in many ads.  Second one – Full of emotions – explains to us, that to make “an advertisement full of emotions” creators use colors and music. What does it mean? Should we go back in time and do not use colors and music in our ads? Or should the creators using unattractive music on purpose? Third one – Sex sells – suggests that “attractiveness and sex promotes positive emotional responses.” I do not believe that it provokes only positive emotional responses. To asses if advertisement is really brainwashing we should know the definition of it. According to Britannica, brainwashing is: “systematic effort to persuade nonbelievers to accept a certain allegiance, command, or doctrine. A colloquial term, it is more generally applied to any technique designed to manipulate human thought or action against the desire, will, or knowledge of the individual. By controlling the physical and social environment, an attempt is made to destroy loyalties to any unfavourable groups or individuals, to demonstrate to the individual that his attitudes and patterns of thinking are incorrect and must be changed, and to develop loyalty and unquestioning obedience to the ruling party.“ I do not believe that advertising is controlling our environment, nor that advertisement is trying to manipulate our thoughts against our will, desire and knowledge. After all most of us are rational beings and we still can decide if we buy the advertised product or not. I think advertising can only alter our environment but it cannot control it.

Sources:

HeidenKummer, Simone, Katharina Shwesig, and Katharina Sieghartsleitner. “The Difference Between Being Influenced and Brainwashed.” Kfunigraz.ac.at –Advertising is brainwashing Web. 10 May 2010. <http://www.kfunigraz.ac.at/~pommer/cematerials/Handout%20-%20Advertising.pdf/>.

brainwashing.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 10 May. 2010 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/77424/brainwashing>.

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Interesting Web Pages

When I was searching for web pages that I can recommend you, I came across www.admongo.gov . It is a web page which is addressed for children to educate them about advertisements. You create your own character, create its name a then you can play. You are a character that wanders around town and you meet many kinds of advertisements. In the first level, you will be explained what is advertisement and where you can find them, in the second level you will find out what kinds of ads there are and that ads inform us, but as well try to persuade us, etc. Actually I enjoyed playing the game and I think it is a very good way to educate children about advertisement. This page connects fun and education.

Another page I would recommend is the official page of Adbusters, www.adbusters.org . Adbusters are “global network of artists, activists, pranksters, writers, student, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age.”  Besides their magazine, blogs where you can post, they also create spoof ads on brands such as Absolute Vodka, Nike, Malboro, etc.

The last page I am going to suggest you is the page of http://creativenerds.co.uk , more precisely this one:  http://creativenerds.co.uk/inspiration/100-most-funny-and-creative-advertisement-designs/ . It is a web page about design, art and advertisements.  The second link is showing us 100 most creative advertisements. Some could be offensive to somebody, but I find most of them to be very good and creative.

I hope you will find these web pages interesting as much as I did and have fun with playing the educational game on advertisement!

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Negative Campaigns

If we take a walk or drive through Prague, or our everyday way to school and work we might encounter so called political “negative campaigns”. What is it? Political parties use advertising through billboards in an unusual way. They spend budget money for their election campaign to ridicule their opponents. The most famous in recent time in Czech Republic is anti Paroubek campaign. Here Paroubek states that he will “cancel hangover”, “bring back Elvis”, “make weekend 5 days longer”, etc.

What is the purpose of such advertisements? It is an attack at a reputation that the leader of the party has and on the party itself. One question arises: does it have an outcome that the creator wanted it to have? Is it possible that it will bring more, maybe positive, attention to the ridiculed party? It could create popularity for Paroubek and maybe some could understand this kind of ads in a way that “negative campaign is better than nothing”. According to a study on negative campaign by Wattenberg and Brians, “the intent of most negative commercials is to convert votes by focusing on an issue that the sponsoring candidate has credibility in handling, but upon which the opponent is weak“.

Another question is why do political parties spend their budget money on negative campaign against their opponents rather than promoting their own political program. Is the effect of negative campaign significant? In Czech Republic  we do not see many billboards or ads by ODS, but they do not accept the claims that they are the creators of negative campaign on Paroubek and ČSSD. Is it possible to believe such statement? Who else would be interested in such negative campaign against ČSSD? On the other ČSSD acknowledge that they are responsible for the negative campaign against ODS.

Does the negative campaign have only negative outcomes? Is it possible that it brings more attention to the political program of the ridiculed party? People may be interested what inspired the negative campaign and to find out about the reality. It could also bring people who are less interested in politics to the polls. According to Wattenberg and Brians, “the informational benefits of negative political ads possess the capacity to promote political participation, particularly among those otherwise least well equipped for political learning“.

Can the ridiculed party or the leader of the party consider negative campaign as defamation? Will the negative campaigns lead to law regulation of such campaigns?

Sources:

Wattenberg, Martin P., and Brians, Craig Leonard. “Negative Campaign Advertising: Demobilizer or Mobilizer.” EScholarship: University of California. Web. 02 May 2010. <http://escholarship.org/uc/item/7gf3q1w1&gt;.

“Volební Antikampaň: Paroubek Bojuje Proti Kocovině, Nečas Kašle Na Lidi – IDNES.cz.” Zprávy IDNES.cz. Web. 02 May 2010. <http://zpravy.idnes.cz/volebni-antikampan-paroubek-bojuje-proti-kocovine-necas-kasle-na-lidi-1kz-/domaci.asp?c=A100406_163009_domaci_kop&gt;.

Pictures:

“Paroubek Bojuje Proti Kocovině. Kdo Za Billboardy Stojí, ODS Prý Neví | Poslanecká Sněmovna.” ParlamentniListy.cz. Web. 02 May 2010. <http://www.parlamentnilisty.cz/parlament/poslanecka-snemovna/162672.aspx&gt;.

Přibil, Marek, and Jiří Ovčáček. “Česko Zaplavila Uštěpačná Billboardová Bitva –.” Novinky.cz. 06 Apr. 2010. Web. 02 May 2010. <http://www.novinky.cz/domaci/196728-cesko-zaplavila-ustepacna-billboardova-bitva.html&gt;.

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