This Term – Out Like a Lamb

funny-Fry-college-memeAs you may recall, this time last year it was the end of my very first term at college. I wasn’t sleeping, I was living and breathing marketing terms. I was able to compile enough sanity together to fire off a quick blog post before tumbling into 30 page reports and final presentations.

This semester is the opposite, and I’m slightly worried as to why. There of course is a massive tidal wave of projects but I don’t feel like I’m needing to come up for air. Perhaps it could just be simple as I’ve adjusted to college life and the demands of the Marketing and Advertising program. Perhaps I’ve learned how to prioritize and organize and manage my stress so I see assignments as hurdles I can overcome and not scary monsters out to hurt me.

Maybe I’m a rare breed of well balanced college student.

Or maybe I am forgetting something.

Advertisements

Nike Promises to Keep Us Warm This Winter

Nike has taken a comical approach to the challenges of winter athletics. Recruiting Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids awkward Irish cop) as a news reporter guiding us through the history of coldness. This is the first instalment for Nike’s Choose Your Winter campaign, featuring the Nike Hyperwarm line. Athletes such as NFL star Aaron Rodgers and figure skater Gracie Gold join the cast of this funny spot. It caught my eye as it was reeling on my television this evening, as I walked through the door bringing an arctic chill with me.

The Value of Reaching Out

For most of my life I’ve had a fear of reaching out. Except for maybe when I was five, and I had no foibles letting even those who didn’t ask know who I was and how excellent I was at tying my shoelaces or counting to a thousand. But since then I’ve always kept to myself and let opportunities come to me. So when an “information interview” was assigned by my Careers and Placement prof this semester, I was shaking in my boots. An information interview requires contacting a professional in my field and meeting up to chat about the industry.

Then things got even crazier. I’m in love with writing and as you, my blog audience (blogdience?) may have already discovered. So when the idea popped into my head that I could potentially have my interview to gain perspective from someone who works at Marketing Magazine, now that was just dreaming too big.

However there I found myself in mid October, sitting in a small Starbucks in the centre of Toronto. I met with Marketing’s Senior Staff Writer and all it took was an email. We talked about an average day at the publication and what lead her to her position. She was so pleasant and a wealth of information. Immediately my nerves were calmed when I realized how easy this was.

My key takeaways were:

1) People are willing to help you. As a student in the marketing field you are not in this alone. Just reach out, take a small step and doors will be opened for you.

2) I really want to carry on in writing in the hopes that one day I will hold a position at a magazine or blogging professionally. I learned nothing about the industry that would shy me away from this goal.

3) I made the right choice in picking this course, because it has brought my confidence up in what I can accomplish and has shown me I can achieve great things. Eep!

Cutting out customer service

cashWe are coming in to an age where transactions are less full serve and more self serve. It seems for years now that stores are cutting out snippets of services that were once standard to the buying process. As a veteran cashier at a supermarket, I often came to hear older customers reminisce about the days when bag boys packed your foodstuffs for you and carried them out to your car. Now grocery stores have self-serve checkouts and some even make you bag your own groceries or bring your own bags to bag them in. There was a time when workers at a clothing store would assist you in every aspect of your purchase, but now it’s normal for them to be very hands-off. Chances are (thanks to the internet) you already know what you’ve come in to buy.

Supermarket chain Loblaw has recently introduced a “click and collect” option for grocery purchases. Greater Toronto Area stores will be implementing the method, which allows customers to make orders online and Loblaw employees gather the order in store. clcikandCustomers pay a $3 to $5 fee to collect their order. The orders can be customized to the customer’s preference like selecting green bananas over ripe bananas. These types of services have become popular in the UK, and slowly are gaining popularity in Canada.

It seems as stores disengage more with their market, the market is disengaging back. For those remaining  clerks who greet you with a smile and fast, friendly service, many people could care less. Imagine yourself as a supermarket cashier for an 8 hour day (keep in mind, a cashier who is kind and happy to be there). It’s not hindering on your employed status that you smile, but you’re smiling anyways. It doesn’t come out of your paycheque if you don’t ask a customer how they are, or wish them a wonderful afternoon, or laugh at the same debit machine joke you’ve heard 2,000 times. Nothing stops you from doing it anyways. Now imagine the reaction you get. Surliness, faces glued to smartphones, people grumbling about how pork chops are 20 cents more and somehow it’s specifically your fault. If I had the choice, I would rather shop for people. If this is the wave of the grocery shopping future than I am 100% behind it.

Fighting Photoshop

Lately Adobe’s cellulite sucking, crease smoothing, skin tanning graphic editor Photoshop has been the talk of celebrities and advertisers alike.

In 2012, this video was released to demonstrate the dramatic changes Photoshop can make to a woman’s body. The video takes a normal woman’s photo and alters it into a more “idealistic”, nearly doll-like shot.

Some people are growing tired of Photoshopped bodies. Everywhere you look there are glossy magazines and billboards with perfectly crafted images that make real life consumers feel inadequate. Actress Keira Knightley recently spoke out about how offended she was when her figure was digitally enhanced for a movie poster. She opted to have a topless photoshoot done to reveal her true, unedited shape. Other frequently pictured celebrities such as movie star Brad Pitt and Victoria Secret model Gisele Bündchen have been captured through an unaltered lens to show their real selves. 

American Eagle is banning Photoshop from their recent ad campaign, showcasing models who are “Aerie Real.” aerie-real-5The photographs include beauty marks, dimples and fat. (By “fat”, they refer to the normal gather of skin around the belly or proportionately sized thighs. None of the models could be considered fat.) Singer and actress Vanessa Hudgens was featured in Bongo’s 100% non-retouched fall campaign. Companies who chose to implement campaigns that are Photoshop free are being hailed as brave for having real women representing them….

My favourite example of a company who actually got this right is Dove, who uses your average woman in their campaigns. halfDove celebrates wrinkles and freckles and slender girls and curvy girls and healthiness and confidence. Some of their ads seem “shocking” to our delicate beauty sensibilities, but that isDove (big?) only because they are so authentic.

Of course the entire beauty industry will not change overnight. At least the ban of Photoshopped faces in some campaigns are a benefit, but not all companies will go this route. Edited images sell and will continue to sell for years to come. As consumers, even if we know the truth, we still have a need to emulate these idealistic images and it is built in to our psyche that, say, an advertised liquid concealer will help us achieve it.

Santa’s Getting Tech Savvy

This Christmas the North Pole has really upped their game with apps that allow kids to connect to Saint Nick himself. Long gone are the days of mailing a letter, thanks to digital innovations the magic of the holidays becomes more alive then ever before.

Santa-is-on-Twitter

Google Voice lets parents create personalized phone calls from Santa Claus, and of course Google Maps is on top of all your Santa tracking needs. Apple offers a Fake Call from Santa app to ensure children are keeping themselves on the nice list. Canon’s North Pole PIXMA runs through the company’s Facebook page and allows wish lists to be sent directly to the North Pole. And to prove they got there alright, Canon plays a video of the elves in Santa’s workshop receiving them. Your Santa Story is a website where parents can create a personalized DVD message from Santa that is sent to their home to be played on Christmas morning.

For all those social media buffs, Santa is on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

It’s the most expensive time of the year!

We may think now with Halloween behind us, that we are entering the most expensive time of the year. But in retrospect, Halloween is quickly becoming a close second to Christmas in holiday spending.

You remember Baby Bop? Barney's blanket toting toddler friend.
You remember Baby Bop? Barney’s blanket toting toddler friend.

When I was a child my mother sewed me a Baby Bop costume made of felt. (Oh, the nineties!)

Nowadays research shows that families will dish out a minimum of $125 on costumes, candy and decorations. Those families aren’t the ones who have generator-powered inflatable pumpkins on their lawns. Young adults are also spending big, with the popularity of Halloween themed night club events and the peer pressure of Facebook and Instagram to participate in the party life. No one can spend a Hallow’s Eve eating cheese popcorn and watching Beetlejuice anymore lest you feel left out that you didn’t attend [insert popular person]’s party dressed as a sexy parakeet. perakeet

And now just after we throw away our rotted Jack-o-Lanterns, the Christmas season is siphoning more from our bank accounts. The average spending for families is nearly $800. And the number is double for those families who are slowly inflating their generator-powered Mrs. Clause’s as we speak.