Archives for the month of: September, 2013

…copywriting of course.

I stumbled across this gem while on YouTube. It’s selling the oddest product, but with some great writing it makes a splash. The second video is the now infamous Dollar Shave Club.

Although these aren’t the 1/2 hour infomercials that grace cable’s airwaves in the middle of the day. They are very similar containing product demos and a strong pitch to drive you to click on through to the check out.

As always its about the relationship, fostering it, caring for it – like a child – if you constantly make your presence known they’ll resent you for it and want you out of their lives. So use a light touch so that each time they see you it is a enjoyable one.

 

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Jane Maas’ memoir Mad Women is an answer to the question: what was it like for women in the 1960s? Clearly the TV show Mad Men demonstrates the male side quite well, but what was it like for the real Peggy Olsons of the 1960s?

What I got from the book was that although there was a feminist movement to help move women forward; the social, cultural and family pressures slowed down the process. Women not only wanted to be accepted as equals to men, but they also wanted to be accepted by fellow women. An example of this is frozen dinners. They were largely purchased and used in secret. You didn’t want other housewife’s to know that you fed your family that rubbish, because it reflects badly on you and your ability to keep a good home. I bring this up because advertising in the 1960s is always critiqued as encouraging those stereotypes, but through reading Jane’s book you begin to understand that companies wanted to advertise new easier to use products but many women won’t jump on board.

Before reading the book I assumed that advertising encouraged the stereotypes in those times. However, the opposite is also true too. Men and women kept up with the stereotypes due to peer pressure or because that is what they firmly believed. There was of course “radical” women in those times. I used quotations because a woman wanting to work isn’t seen as radical today, but back then it was. Some women worked after they had kids (like Jane Maas) and they fed their family frozen dinners (again, like Jane Maas). Over time more and more women did both. They slowly brought in things and ideas into their lives that slowly changed society. Yes, Mad Women is a book about advertising, but it is an interesting viewpoint into the mind of a woman in the 60s struggling with the stereotypes she is faced with and the choices she makes: should I break this stereotype, or live up to it?

Does advertising reflect culture or create and maintain it? In my opinion it is not a black and white question. So I’d say both. It encourages new culture by introducing new products like frozen dinners, but it reflects old culture by how it speaks to their audience. Since housewives in general needed to live up to certain ideals they would feel ashamed by buying frozen dinners. So the advertising would most likely have to curb those thoughts.

By viewing the commercial the feeling is that you are not going to compromise the quality of the dinner you’d serve your family. Yes there are ads that clearly stereotype women. From our perspective it seems every ad does so. Then again the 60s were different times, and composed of different customs. It will be interesting to look back at our time in 30-40 years and see the ads that populated our media. Then we’d think, “Holy crap! I was a racist!” For example the LGBT community is protesting to simply be accepted into society, and to not be seen as ‘different’. Also if you pay attention next time you’re watching commercials on TV, you’d notice that white people out number all other racial minorities 4 to 1. Here is an interesting question to ask yourself: if you were to cast a TV commercial who would you cast? The default answer is “whoever the target market is.” Then again that only furthers the stereotype that your product is use by that race/gender/faith. If you were to cast a different ethnicity in the commercial it may be taken as “out of place.” Obviously there is no one-size fits all answer. There never is for these kind of things.

In conclusion, advertising is responsible for some stereotypes, and in other cases only responding to others. Advertising in essence is a sales tool that tries to appeal to the widest market possible. In doing so it has to take in the median idea of its market. So when you see an ad it is acting as a median snapshot of that advertiser’s perspective of its market at that time, be it the 1960s or 2013.

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YouTube: a place of endless cat videos and tutorials on everything. My most recent binge-watching spree has found itself on YouTube watching DigitalRev TV. This YouTube channel, set in Hong Kong is hosted by a charismatic Chinese 20-something with an elegant British accent who simply goes by Kai. If it were not for his antics, you’d think he was a British photography-scholar. They do camera reviews, compare certain aspects of photography (like prime vs zoom lenses) and hold challenges to professional photographers (or Pro Togs) in their “Pro Photographer Cheap Camera Challenge”. Episodes include Chase Jarvis trying to take skateboarding photos with a Lego camera.

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It wasn’t until the 15th some odd episode I watched that I realized DigitalRev was bigger than just a YouTube channel. Previously I had admired at their office thinking “Wow, they got a nice office for a YouTube channel”. Later I realized that DigitalRev is an online retailer that sells camera equipment (not one of my brightest moments). Their site has an attempt at a social community that is focused on photography. But where this really wins out is that their YouTube channel doesn’t overtly advertise in the way of “Buy! Buy! Buy!” It is more subtle. At the end of each episode it has the classic and innocent “For more information check out…”

What this channel did do for me as an amateur photographer was that it got me interested in photography again. It encouraged me to try new things with my camera. Furthermore, I feel that I have a source of trusted information about photography to go to.

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Now the reasons why I’m playing up DigitalRev is because how effective this form of marketing is. Consider this: it’s YouTube so it’s free for both the viewer and company, it’s filmed in Hong Kong which is nowhere near where I live thus reaching a worldwide audience, it made me want to try new things with photography (such as exposure techniques) and I feel that I’m better for having binge-watched most of their videos. As companies are still trying to figure out how to market to the Internet user; DigitalRev demonstrates one simple philosophy: don’t ram the message down the viewer’s throat. To more clearly illustrate what I mean. The host Kai breaks more camera gear then he praises. The only brand he clearly loves is Leica, which is drastically out of 99% of his viewer’s price range. On more common and financially achievable camera equipment like Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony and so on; he is honest about what he feels. He gives pros and cons and tests the gear out in unique ways.

What this company does is a lesson to anyone wanting to have a successful YouTube channel is that there is effort put into it. The host, cameraman and production assistant (who also make appearances) all understand photography. They’re well versed in the plethora of technology used in photography. Secondly, it is entertaining, unlike most of YouTube reviews. And last there is a production value to it. Which yes does matter.

There are of course many other channels that employ these ideas. However, there are more channels that don’t. If you want to sell products and gain a loyal audience on the Internet: don’t ram your call to action down their throat. Because lets face it, there are several other places people can venture to on the world wide web to find out the same information.

English has certainly gotten around in its lifetime. Its got words from all over, and why? Whereas Italian and French and other languages at least sound the same. English switches tongues, eras, dialects and pronunciation. For example everything I’ve written in these few sentences come from Latin, Anglo, Saxon, French and so on. So in case you’re wondering where this all came from, here is a video.

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