Thursday, March 3, 2011

Branded Utilities

I would love to say that I use branded utilities a lot, but I can't. Although I am on the internet almost 24/7, I rarely use applications made by branded companies. Honestly, what I use most often are games posted on Facebook such as Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, and even the old school game of Tetris. These branded utilities are the best time killers and procrastination tools. However, they are the least productive and informational applications out there.

I do not own a smart phone. Actually, my mobile device is the farthest from a smart phone. But if I had one, an iPhone preferably, I would load it with apps that have to do with movies, music, and shopping.

There are some brands that I think could benefit from brand utilities. American Eagle Outfitters could make an app that has to do with their loyalty program. I am part of this program and how it works is that you can acquire points for every dollar you spend at American Eagle. However, you have to bring in your points card to get the point otherwise you have to go online to input the receipt information. American Eagle should have an app that lets forgetful customers input that information right away or provide the customer with the points card number so that the cashier can type in the number.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Broadband Challenge

Internet, what would I do without you?

I have been given a challenge. A challenge that most Generation Xers would not be able to complete: use the Internet for everything. My parents are technologically challenged. The Internet confuses them and the only piece of new technology they have is a cellphone.

For me, it's the opposite. Technology is my life. There isn't a day when I'm not watching my favorite movies or TV shows online. Even talking to people is a hassle without Internet. I use it for everything. Socializing, communicating, researching, entertainment. Internet makes everything accessible to me instantly. I don't have to wait for a letter or go take the bus to the library to do simple research. I have everything I need at my fingertips. And the best thing about it is that it's free! I don't need to pay for cable, gas, postage, or software.

The only downside to watching TV shows online is the advertising. Usually, people rely on the Internet to get away from the 3 minute advertising intermissions when watching a TV show. But at least when you're watching the show on an actual television you can channel surf. On the Internet, you have to watch it. But the most annoying thing is pop-up advertising. It is so obnoxious. Multiple advertising windows open up and make noise right when you're about to watch your show. So you have to pause it, find that window, and close it every time.

The advertising associated with listening to music wasn't as intrusive. It didn't make the experience any less enjoyable.

Although the challenge was to do everything online, I have cheated and used my cellphone for talking and texting when my computer wasn't available. But hey, if I had internet on my phone, I probably would be using that for all of my on-the-go internet needs.

The only thing that was very difficult for me was to use online programs that were the equivalent to my Adobe design programs on my computer. I felt really uneasy about it. I prefer to have my programs available to me and me only. I would not replace my applications with online ones it that situation. If for some reason the internet doesn't allow me to use these free online programs when I really need it I'm in big trouble.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Actress in a Leading Role: Who Will it Be?

The Oscars. The annual awards ceremony for the most prestigious and influential actors of the year. I normally don't give a hoot on trying to figure out who is going to win the Oscar in each category. I like the surprise. But this time I actually got to experience doing an Oscar investigation on Twitter.

Out of all of the award categories, I decided to specifically look into who will win the Best Leading Actress. And the nominees are:

  • Annette Bening—"The Kids Are All Right"
  • Nicole Kidman—"Rabbit Hole"
  • Jennifer Lawrence—"Winter's Bone"
  • Natalie Portman—"Black Swan"
  • Michelle Williams—"Blue Valentine"
On Twitter, I did searches for each nominee using keywords like their name, "oscars", and "win". After looking at the activity on each actress I have come to an overall prediction. Natalie Portman will win the Oscar. How do I know this? Let me run through what I found when I searched these actresses on Twitter.

When I entered Annette Bening into the search bar I found 2 tweets that said she should win an Oscar, 1 tweet said that she won't, and the rest spoke of how Bening was going to vote for herself to win the Oscar. There doesn't seem to be much of a positive buzz on this actress so I figured that she isn't a favorite to win.

Nicole Kidman's search was a little more positive. There were more tweets congratulating her performance in "Rabbit Hole" and more people hoped to see her win the Oscar. However, there were more tweets on what she was going to wear rather than if people thought she was going to win. I think that she is one of the favorites to win, but as I continued with my results, I don't think she will.

The few tweets on Jennifer Lawrence spoke of how good "Winter's Bone" was and how well Jennifer Lawrence played her part. A couple of people were happy that she was nominated because they liked her performance and actually wanted to see her win the Oscar. However, the other tweets that popped up were quotes on how Jennifer Bening didn't expect to win. And personally, I don't expect her to win either. There was a very low number of tweets that were about her winning. This makes me think that people are focusing their votes on someone else even though she may have done a good job.

Michelle Williams does not have a chance to win the Oscar. Why? Because there was only 1 result saying that she should win and the other one said that her co-star Ryan Gossling out-shined her. So, she is the nominee that I am going to have to rule out of the winning circle.

And finally, we have my prediction and my favorite to win: Natalie Portman. It is extremely obvious that Natalie Portman is the fan favorite. When I searched "Natalie Portman win" almost every tweet said that her performance was immaculate and brilliant. There weren't any negative comments whatsoever. The general consensus was that she should win the Oscar and I agree.

Not only has Natalie Portman been in the acting game longer than some of her co-nominees, but her general spirit and kind personality makes people swoon over her.

I never thought that using a social media could really give so many clues as to who will get the majority of the votes. It's awesome to be able to have this available to me just in case I'm curious and want to know ahead of time. But in the future, I prefer to have my favorite and leave the reveal until the big night. It's more fun that way!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Social Media

I am an avid shopper. It's a problem that I have. So, for this week's blog I decided to follow my favorite clothing retailer on Facebook and Twitter: American Eagle Outfitters. I have shopped at this retailer for many years. I have even been sucked into their loyalty program. So, it only seemed right to follow something I surround myself with every Saturday afternoon.

When I clicked the "Like" and "Follow" buttons, my news feed instantly changed. I got updates on when new collections were coming out, what days I can get double AE Rewards Points, what sales are going on and when, what online deals you can get, and even printable coupons that are exclusive to Facebook and Twitter followers.

I already knew that American Eagle gives incentives for people buying merchandise from their store, but I never knew that you could get online coupons just by liking them. This made me appreciate the company even more and maybe even make me feel less guilty for spending money on them. To me it makes American Eagle seem thankful for our business but they twist it to make it an advantage by getting people to buy more. It's genius!

I love American Eagle. I always have. But thanks to their loyalty programs, I can now enjoy AE merchandise at a significant discount. Awesome.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Guerilla Marketing

Guerilla marketing. One of the most unconventional ways to get the consumer to stop and actually look at your message. To me, it is the most powerful way to hit a consumer right between the eyes. It is interactive and keeps the consumer engaged longer.

I haven't experienced any guerilla marketing myself, but I have found a number of examples that makes me think, "why didn't I think of that?"

Mall floor decal for Frontline Flea & Tick Spray
This is an amazing idea! They use the average consumer as a tool to animate their advertisement and allows the consumer the participate and interact with the brand. The only downside is that you have to be on a higher level to appreciate it.

Guerilla technique for the hit TV show The Sopranos

If this isn't a good way to get someone's attention in New York City then I don't know what is. This morbid image will strike anyone right away. It could offend someone easily but it really works with the show it's promoting. I love how at first you don't realize it's an advertisement until the arm leads you to the bumper sticker explaining its purpose.

McDonald's gets a huge standing-O from me. This is pure genius. What a good way to use already standing city structures to your advantage. This larger than life guerilla marketing tactic catches the eye of anyone walking by. Even the lady in the shot is amazed. I just love how the coffee pot is floating in midair. It's a fantastic illusion that kind of makes you think, "how'd they get that up there?"

Here are some other examples that I found:

"Reserved for Drunk Drivers"
Ugly Betty Mall Poster

Yellow Pages Darts
"Free Air Guitar" 95.7 Rock Radio

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Social Contract

While researching brands that use traditional advertising in a new medium, the most prominent example I could find was online advertising. Firstly, I think it's fair to say that all, if not the majority, of brands have a website. Every company that is a traditional advertising media (for example: The Ottawa Citizen for newspaper, CTV for television, or Chatelaine for magazines) has an equivalent of their newspaper, TV station, or magazine online. That alone is putting traditional media in a new medium.

As far as advertising goes, these sites offer ad space to companies that advertise with them through the traditional media. Most of these ads are taken from their original form (print or commercials) and transferred to a new, digital medium.

At the beginning, when online advertising was first getting popular, I remember that the banner ads on websites were so simple and would just flash from one picture to another. Now, online ads can actually be a mini commercial. Here's an example.

When you click on the different tabs in this website, you will see that most of their advertisers are making mini commercials with their spots.

It seems that as time progresses, traditional medias are starting to integrate with each other. Just in this one example we have a two traditional medias (magazine, and television—the online ad is a copy of their TV spots), and we have two new medias (website and online advertising) all meshed into one. This goes to show that it's getting harder to get the attention of consumers and only by integrating a number of media can we actually get through to them.