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Just Wright or I <3 NBA?

I watched Just Wright (out in 2010) and noticed quite a few product placement strategies.

First off, let me explain the plot. (SPOILER ALERT!) The movie focuses on Leslie Wright, a 35 year-old physical therapy worker in New Jersey, and Scott McKnight, a NBA player for the New Jersey Nets. Leslie is a die hard fan, and her god-sister Morgan is trying to get famous by becoming a ball players wife. Call it fate, but Leslie and Scott meet and he invites her to his birthday party. There, Scott meets Morgan (who fakes being a saint) and they fall in love. Leslie watches their love blossom and also Scott get injured while playing ball. Morgan requests that Leslie be Scott’s personal trainer, and then decides to leave Scott because he is a “dead end” in her quest for fame. Inevitably, Scott and Leslie fall in love and end up together on the NBA, Scott as a resigned player and Leslie as the new team physical trainer.

This movie is a perfect combination of basketball movie and chick flick. A couple could go and both be completely satisfied because the basketball scenes intertwine perfectly with the romantic scenes. The movie appealed to real life love and loss as well as the action and glamor of a ball player’s life.

I watched this movie and then wrote down the advertising I most remembered from the movie. I specifically remember Leslie’s father name dropping Home Depot, seeing an Exxon/Mobil gas station, and of course all the NBA and basketball player spots. The Izod Center and ESPN were also shown a lot in the movie, appealing to the basketball fans. Although ESPN and NBA aren’t necessarily a brand, they do cross produce their name into commodities like clothing and ticket sales.

I have to wonder how the payments were handled for the movie. I think that because ESPN is a logo and company, the movie production team would have had to pay to use the logo. I can assume that basketball players got a salary for the movie, since they were crossing boundaries in fame (player become actor). Some of the basketball players with speaking roles were Dwayne Wade, Dwight Howard (who was shown a lot throughout the movie), and Andre Igodala. I think that the movie’s income was boosted by fans who specifically came to see the basketball aspect of the movie. I also wonder if the teams shown throughout the movie got paid for spots, or if the payment went directly to the NBA. Some of the teams shown were Orlando, New Jersey, and the Heat. Since Queen Latifah produced (and starred) in the movie, I can only guess that she got to pick what teams she wanted to have in the film.

I decided to watch the movie again online with subtitles, which made it easier to spot the name drops and sponsors in English. ESPN and the NBA were referenced a lot more than I realized on the first watch. The Nets were mentioned by 5 minutes into the movie, and NBA game footage shortly followed. I assume that this was to reel in the basketball fans right away.

There was a lot of name dropping throughout the movie. Obama was mentioned, as well as some of the music artists: Terence Blanchard, Coltrane, Joni Mitchell. I figure, if that person (or entity, if deceased) is going to get royalties, they might as well give them props too. Queen Latifah, who plays Leslie, also sings on the movie as well as plays a track for the end credits. Common, who plays Scott, also will get some royalties for his work on the songs featured in the movie. So, this movie was about role-crossing all over: singers turned actors and athletes turned actors.

As the movie played out, there was more of a story about the lush lives of athletes. Soon there was more game footage and ESPN spots (Mike and Mike show, Stuart Scott) to re-spark the interest for the basketball fans. All together, there was around ten minutes of game footage in the 90 minute movie. That’s just the perfect amount, for me.

I definitely think that this movie relied on the NBA’s cooperation, and both benefited from the spots. Fans came to the movie and the movie paid for the spots. People Magazine had a small spot in the movie (it didn’t show the name, I just recognized the style of the magazine). They probably got an exclusive interview for the premiere of the movie.

As I said previously, this movie was a perfect combination of basketball and love story. Although Queen Latifah probably had to shell out a lot to get ESPN and NBA to sign, she probably raked in as much cash in theatres as well.


Jag Bomb, anyone?

I attended a Megadeth concert with my friend Cher a few weeks ago. Slayer and Anthrax were also on the concert tour, which was labeled the Jagermeister tour. There were tons of security at the entrance checking our tickets and I.D. but as soon as we got to the concert floor level the main objective of the concert was clear: drinking. There were drink kiosks set up all over, specifically serving Jagermeister for the tour. I was amazed that it was like this because the concert was for all ages and there were not that many cops (that I saw) watching out for underage drinking.

We got to the 1st Mariner Arena about an hour before Anthrax took the stage. There were already a few drunk people and plenty on their way there. It wasn’t until the bands started playing that the alcohol took its effects… Mosh pits started and the crowd started being pushed around by various violent moshers.

Cher and I are pretty tame, and stayed near the back for Anthrax. I was driving home and couldn’t drink, and Cher wasn’t for it. I wanted to get in a mosh pit just for a minute, though. During Megadeth we moved to the front, ahead of the mosh pits; we were uncomfortable and pushed around, but Cher loves Megadeth so it was worth it (and I got a guitar pick for her!)


Then there was an “intermission” of sorts, where more drinking occurred. The band t-shirts were also put out at this time. This was a good strategy, because drunk people care a lot less about how much a t-shirt costs than a sober one. Cher told me she wanted to stay in the back for Slayer because of their notoriety for having the worst mosh pits. I did end up getting in one of those mosh pits, and I still have all my teeth! I fell down twice, though; but got picked up by someone right away. Someone said, “You’re a girl, so they’ll pick you up right away.” 🙂

Cher said she wanted to buy V.I.P. tickets, but they wouldn’t let her buy a single ticket (which was around $300, anyway). I’m sure that the V.I.P. lounge strongly encouraged drinking as well.

Jagermeister was the clear winner of this tour. It benefited in every way from the concert. I saw wheelbarrows full of Jag bottles being carted to and from the drinking kiosks during the intermission and after the concert. It only enhanced the violent behaviors that went on at the show. Jagermeister used the “special events” PR strategy by playing host to the audiences of some hard-core metal bands and fans. They sure sold the product like they aimed to!

I’m a Potterhead

So I thought I’d contribute my bit of Harry Potter fanaticism since the series is getting so much hype lately due to The Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1 release on Nov. 19th.

Joanna Kathleen Rowling published the first in the series of seven fiction books in 1997. The final book was published in 2007. As of 2008, the series has sold more than 400 million copies and has been translated into 67 languages. That’s up there with The Bible, to me!

One of the first things I remember about an early interview with Rowling that I read is how she said that Harry Potter “walked right into her mind, fully formed.” The books contain so much detail that intertwines throughout the books. Her work reminds me of Tolkien; they both created different worlds with so many details that stay accurate throughout the series. The books get more complex and dramatic as Harry (and the readers) grow older.

Some of the themes in the Harry Potter series are death, love, and prejudice. I also recognized how strong friendships are in the books. Harry’s parents are both dead (although their ghosts make appearances throughout the books) and several of the main and supporting characters die as a result of the dark wizard Voldemort. In the end of the series, Harry finds out that a part of Voldemort’s soul was left in him when he survived Voldemort’s killing curse as a baby. In the last book, Harry realizes he must die to overcome the part of Voldemort within himself. To me, this is Rowling saying that most of our battles are within ourselves.

I started the Harry Potter series when I was in the 8th grade. I had heard a little about the acclaim the books were getting, and decided to try them out; up until then I was an avid Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine fanatic. I fell in love with the books immediately. What kid doesn’t dream of a world that magic can really happen? I remember secretly hoping that it was all true. 🙂

I ordered the last four books by mail and got to read them as soon as they came out. I have also been at the opening night of each movie as it came out. I even started a little quiz book of extra hard questions I made from the first book. Yes, I am a Potterhead.

The messages in the books didn’t jump out me immediately when I was young, but imprinted themselves subliminally on my brain. I wanted to be a good friend like Ron, brave like Harry, wise like Dumbledore. I was old enough to understand death and mourning when I read the books. As I became older I made the connection of oppression in the books and opened my mind to equality in America. I started treating all people the same, with respect and with less criticism. I tried to learn to think on my feet faster and use my instincts to tell me my next move. Harry is the most selfless character in the series; I wanted to be more like him.

My Harry Potter books are up there on my most valued possesions list with my instruments and photo albums. I try to read the series every year or two. I would love to write someday; I wrote a short story based around a character I created that attended Hogwarts alongside Harry and had his types of adventures. I would like to publish it someday! Be on the look out for it… 😉

A Disney World

Growing up, I had all the Disney movies on VHS and loved to watch them. I loved the animation and the singing. The songs featured on the movies were often used in our elementary music classes. Just like today, it seemed liked Disney couldn’t put out a bad movie.

A common theme in a lot of the movies is falling in love with someone completely different and “off limits”. This is nothing new… Shakespeare started it with Romeo and Juliet and others have adapted it over time to fit the social climate. In The Little Mermaid, a mermaid fell in love with a man; in Alladin, a street rat fell for a princess. And these lovers always found a way to be together, despite the odds and who was against them.

Many problems often arise in Disney movies, and they always fix themselves beautifully by the end of the film. This is definitely not a mirror of real life, but what kid-movie shows disappointment and sad endings? Disney realized very early that it needs to keep its movies optimistic in order for youth to keep their dreams alive.

As for promotion of these movies, I believe that Disney commercializes their products perfectly. They get kids obsessed with the movies and then cross-produce it, making those kids want EVERYTHING with that specific character they love. I know first-hand that once a kid loves a movie character, they want all its products. My daughter adores Tinkerbell… we have costumes, dolls, movies, panties, pajamas, and blankets all centered around the fairy. And I know that it will only get worse!

But, I love watching Disney movies with my kids. They are beautifully animated and have catchy music that easily gets stuck in my head. And, as I mentioned earlier, it seems like Disney never misses. Their movies are always popular and fun. Even if the movies don’t teach the most realistic values, I will still enjoy watching them with my daughter because I will not rely on just the movies to instill values in her. She will get her morals from me, not a movie!

The Social Workplace

Generation Y are our youngest workers, and the way they interact socially could soon have an impact on company policies and hierarchies.

I found an blog post from a writer with the Wall Street Journal named Gary Hamil. The post is entitled “The Facebook Generation vs. the Fortune 500.” It is part of GH’s blog entitled “Gary Hamil’s Management 2.0, A look at new ways of managing.” This particular post was published on March 24th of 2009.

The blog post’s main point is trying to relate the online life of today’s high-schoolers and college-goers and what they will expect from their future workplace environments because of social networking. He gives “12 work-related characteristics of online life.”

Here is a quick overview of GH’s 12 characteristics:

1. All ideas compete on an equal footing.
(A workers’ ideas are accepted and valued equally, no matter what their status at the job.)

2. Contribution counts for more than credentials.

3. Hierarchies are natural, not prescribed.
(One’s popularity is due to personality, not rank, at work.)

4. Leaders serve rather than preside.
(The boss is working right along beside their workers instead of telling them what to do and how to do it.)

5. Tasks are chosen, not assigned.

6. Groups are self-defining and -organizing.

7. Resources get attracted, not allocated.
(In numbers five, six and seven, the employees have the right to choose what projects to work on, who to work with, and what causes to raise money for.)

8. Power comes from sharing information, not hoarding it.

9. Opinions compound and decisions are peer-reviewed.
(GH means user-generated content, where information is tweaked until it is perfect.)

10. Users can veto most policy decisions.
(This is kind of like democracy. Workers can overturn decisions because of sheer majority, not rank.)

11. Intrinsic rewards matter most.
(It’s not the pay that matters most to employees, it’s the motivation and recognition they get from their positive and helpful efforts.)

12. Hackers are heroes.
(Activists are thought of as an example of democratic rights and an example of the underdog winning.)

Some of the points he gives are good suggestions to give all employers an equal opportunity; some are very radical, proposing that employees would get to choose with whom they interact with and on what projects they work on. To me, work is not always fun or your choice of activities. Someone is always going to have to do the boring jobs, and there will always be people at work that others will just want to avoid but have to interact with anyway.

Hamel states that these 12 features are also how Generation Y functions socially nowadays, but how that these characteristics are also void in today’s Fortune 500 companies. If companies were to adopt some of these ideals I think that their would be a lot more progress in areas like fund raising and employee morale.

If a company were to adopt all of these characteristics, it would have to make sure all of its employees wanted to do that specific type of work while also finding employees who enjoyed mundane tasks, because they would be the only ones doing them.

The Drs. website

I believe that the Drs website is a great example of cross production in mass media today. They have several of the TV-aired clips online, as well as online-exclusive clips for web users. The advertisements that you see in the commercials also appear online, which is a package deal for users of indirect payment. Putting the show online also allows for globalization to countries that might not be able to see the show when it airs on television.

The website’s two top uses as media are for information and self understanding because its main goal is to provide medical advice. I read the disclaimer, which states the site is “ published for educational and informational purposes only, and are not intended as a diagnosis, treatment or as a substitute for professional medical advice…”.

Yet, I believe the information on the site can be trusted because the doctors featured on the show represent all aspects of the field, all are accredited, and all are just sharing their opinions right there on the show. So it’s like instantly getting four opinions as you watch the show.  Some media consumers will use this site as a decision making tool, even if unadvised.

The website also aims to entertain its visitors by keeping content interesting, sometimes touching on personal subjects. There are videos pertaining to everyone on the site, making visitors (…me) stop and watch, for their health’s sake.  All of this information coincides with the top uses as media for the TV show also.

There is also an online community on the website through message boards and online contact with the featured doctors. There are blogs that I felt were somewhat unproductive. I saw them more as advertisements and people blogging about personal doctors visits which I don’t care to hear.

Even if the information on the website has a disclaimer to be opinion only, it would be nice if there was a database of simple medical terms and conditions. It could be complied by experts and people with exposure to the listed conditions. It could become something like Wikipedia, but focused around health. This would be a big job for one person to put on the website, so making it a UGC makes the task more do-able.

Super Media Me: Part 2… Nurturing Generation Z

The last half of my four-day exploration into my media consumption required me to cut off my use of media completely. Is this possible? Not in this day and age, and definitely not as a mother who needs to stay connected. I needed to keep a line of communication open just in case something were to happen to my family.

My daughter and I went to visit my sister during the last two days of my observation, so staying away from the tv wasn’t hard. My living habitat is very tv centered, even with my daughter; whereas my sister keeps the tv off at her house. The whole weekend, the tv was on for a total of 1 hour. Her two daughters are still very technology savvy though.

My phone stayed on during this period, but I used it a lot less than normally. Ignoring it for a couple days was nice, much less of a distraction.  I am now considering disconnecting my email from my iphone because I got so much junk mail.

While I was trying to ignore media for the weekend, I decided to observe my nieces’ media consumption habits. They love to play games on the internet and on their Wii. My sister closely monitors how much time a day they spend on it. If they could spend all day on the computer, I’m sure they would! The girls also ask to play on their Mom or Dad’s iphone a lot to play with the game apps. They don’t get to do this very much. My sister knows how apt her girls are with computers, and makes sure that they stay on secure sites and away from chat rooms.

What I learned from my sister this weekend is that I have to limit what Kortney consumes and watches, because it can take over her life if I let it. As I stepped back from media to look at the role it plays in my life and my daughter’s life, I realized that we can only get more advanced. I also realized that I need to do like my sister, and protect my child from the dangers of media to children. Over-stimulation, deadening the imagination, and death of traditional media like books are some ones that come instantly to my mind. My sister reads to her girls every night, encourages creative activities like science club and art classes, and closely monitors their tv and computer usage.

What parents need to do for their kids is set an example with media by teaching them moderation and appropriateness. Spend time showing your kids things you love, and they’ll learn to expand their interests also. Generation Z is the future of technology and we have to teach them how to handle it safely and in moderation. I’m learning firsthand how fast a child’s youth goes, and I’m realizing how vital it is to be spent in the right ways.

Because of this exercise, I’ve realized that I need to use the internet and television in more moderation while I’m at home so I can spend more time playing with my daughter and nurturing her imagination. In reality, Generation Z will eventually have ultimate power when it comes to media. They will be able to do promote anything due to viral marketing.

Super Media Me: Part 1…Target Advertising

I am entering on a four-day journey into media exploration. I intend to examine how and when I use media, and also observations I made specifically about advertising tehniques and trends.

On the particular morning I decided to start tracking my media consumption, my power was out. I felt absolutely helpless. I couldn’t turn on the tv to check the weather, news, or traffic. My room seemed so quiet without the background noise of the tv.

Throughout the day I noticed the ads around me and tried to notice what I usually do not. To me, college is now less of a social experience than it might be to most younger students, possibly because I don’t live on campus and have had enough partying. So I don’t really notice the fliers on the billboards or the written messages on the sidewalks. The media I intentionally consume while on campus consists of emails I check through my iphone, calls and texts I send or recieve, time I spend reading books, and the time I spend on facebook for my iphone. Collectively, I’d say I spend 40 minutes out of the 5 hours a day I’m on campus consuming some type of media by choice.

I am the most exposed to media when I am at home. Honestly, I come in and turn on the tv and put my feet up (or try, with my 2 year old) until supper time. The tv is on in my room for at least 4 hours a day. I am also constantly getting junk mail on in my email account, which is now becoming somewhat of an annoyance. I usually turn on the Sprout channel for Kortney so I can wind down for the day.

As a parent I love to watch her engage in the shows because it’s like seeing her learning. I have fun watching them with her! But watching the commericals also got me thinking about how advertising is most effective. Audiences are changing all the time; each person’s interests and wants are changing all the time as they mature and age. The most effective way to advertise is to get your point across to your target audience.

There are a certain set of commercials that are played over and over on the channel I let my daughter watch. All of these commericals keep my daughters attention, while also appealing to me beacause its something that Kortney would want eventually or benefit from in the long run. But when I change from the kid channel to my fashion channel, the commercials change completely. They are for clothing lines and other tv series. I am no longer a concerned mom when I am watching these commericals, I am a women who likes to shop. Changing to the news brings out another side of my interests as a consumer.

In general, I’m saying that advertisers have a huge job figuring out the best way to appeal to their target audience while also staying relevant to other focus groups. What many people don’t realize is that they fall into many focus group generalizations, therefore subconsiously reacting to many different ads they see every day.

And now for something completely unrelated, but still relevant…
My daughter is slowly becoming more technologically advanced than I am…at the age of 2. I remember the day it happened to me and my mother. I could zip through web pages and equipment setups, I was texting and facebooking, and file sharing at college. Kortney knows how to run an app on my phone. It’s a little alphabet/numbers/colors/shapes tutorial. She knows to tap on the screen to start it again once it’s gone through its cycle. Kortney also knows how to call people on the phone and loves to Skype with her Grandma and Auntie. I’m sure there will be a day when she understands technology and digital media better than I do, but I cannot imagine when or what the media of the future will be.

(I get a taste of exactly how technology today is affecting the newest generation in my next blog…read on!!)

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