Friday, January 29, 2010

Reality TV--Why so many viewers?

Indeed, Reality TV has changed the face of television, literally. How have these low-budget programs garnered so many viewers? To effectively discuss this question we need to understand the cultural/historical background of our RTV-watching Americans.

American Dream and Capitalism

Young American children are raised in a capitalist-conscious economy. They are told that if they work hard (and smart), they can accumulate the kind of wealth of billionaires like Andrew Carnegie, Bill Gates, and Sergey Brin. The American public education system teaches youngsters through its use of grades that education—and life is a competition, in which only the best win.

Naturally, the capitalistic method is the principal theme of a RTV show. Francine Prose states that RTV summarizes the “vision of a zero-sum society in which no one can win unless someone else loses….”

RTV, a product of a capitalist-driven economy, appeals to all who fight in the trenches of capitalism, be it the office or the classroom.

Gladiator Syndrome

Inherent in human behavior, as noted historically, is the obsession with watching competitions. From the coliseum’s gladiators to NFL’s Super Bowl, humans have typically enjoyed a good battle. We often pick a side and triumph or despair depending on how our team does. And just as well, RTV picks up this same trend. Often I hear conversations among friends and coworkers about certain affinities towards particular contestants in the latest RTVs. Because everyone has his or her favorite contestant (I did when David Archuleta competed in American Idol), everyone must watch the latest episode to find out if his or her contestant will make it to the next round.

Furthermore, the fact that RTV is, in fact, “real,” makes the game that much more interesting. Prose said “observing [the contestant’s] response to stress and humiliation generates a gladiatorial, bread-and-circus atmosphere that simply does not exist when we see movie stars in scrubs sail a gurney down the halls of ER.”

Of those I interviewed, RTV was taken as both appealing and appalling. They were drawn to RTV because of its ability to make a prince from a pauper (as in American Idol, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, etc.) which appeal to the American dream. Furthermore, many enjoy RTV because of its riveting competiveness. Viewers of RTV are stilled appalled at the levels of corruption displayed by contestants—who sometimes act on the basest human instincts of “natural selection.” However, RTV shows still increase in numbers every year.

Before writing this essay, I facebooked and tweeted a few coworkers and friends to learn of their favorite Reality TV shows.  What are your favorite Reality TV shows?

Thanks to @shuey03, @robynstorms, @sudophp, @lmgilson, @Tiana_Lei, and @thymas11.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

White snow over BYU campus

We woke up this morning to see everything covered in snow. It was quite pretty. Christine posed for a picture. You can see me crouching in the reflection of her sunglasses. In the background you can see the SWKT, JFSB, Bell Tower, and Marriott Center.

Friday, January 22, 2010

2 Blogs to Run--and a few Social Ills

Do you think that it's rather unhealthy to be running two blogs in the midst of every other busy moment in life (I've also started On our carpool to work I was talking to @scottcowley. He mentioned how he'd read an article stating that the iPhone revolution has caused us to look inward and social media is becoming a catalyst to great social problems. For example, when a certain catastrophe strikes, more people are whipping out their mobile phones to take pictures and tweet rather than doing what they can to help the individual(s) in danger or embarrassment.

@scottcowley also mentioned that our social ills are caused by our need to be busy. It is not that we have to be tweeting/blogging/consuming etc. all the time--it's that we choose to be busy--and digital media makes it so much easier to do so.

The perpetrator of the problem is not the issue at stake--whether it's us or the media. However, maybe we ought to take a moment to think about how our busyness affects our social culture. Furthermore, where do we draw the line between working online (yes, I'm an online marketer just like most of the twitterers) and wasting time online? Even though we may be racking up followers and customers, what happens when our social fabric begins to tear by our selfish approach at social media?

And strangely enough, I sit here typing on one of my two blogs (not to mention lots of other online projects) while twittering. Hypocritical? Yes.

If you're reading--I'd like to know your thoughts.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Semiotic Interpretation:

Note (1/21/10): I created some new ads and wrote a post about a new REI campaign, "Rethink Living."

Disclaimer: I still don’t quite understand semiotics with its use of signs and how I can connect that to a retail catalog/website. I do understand that meaning is gathered by context and relationships rather than pure denotation.

REI’s predominantly retail website caters to the outdoor, rugged, and still modern adventurer. Below are a few details that define REI’s prime customer and show relationships between REI’s persona and current cultural beliefs.

Design has made a careful use of colors and basic design principles. The website displays a minimalist design made apparent by the use of the following:

  • White is dominant in the color palette.

  • Diagonal lines are excluded from the design.

  • Fonts are simple and consistent.

  • The website consists of 2 or 3 column layouts. also exhibits a modern approach with bright, clear cut images and extensive navigation menu. Additionally, REI brands itself with black and green (homepage).

REI’s copy seeks to highlight independence in day to day living through extreme to moderate “adventures”:

  • “Whether it's the end of a top-rope or an alpine summit, REI has the gear to help you reach it.”

  • “Get outdoors with tents, packs….”

  • “The snow's ready, are you?”

  • “Explore your world on a bike from REI!”

  • “Get outside with adventure-ready women's hiking and travel clothing….”

Culturally, Americans are increasingly spending time indoors. They are inundated with media advertising on every possible piece of communication technology available. Perhaps REI speaks to the “fed up” individual who is bored or exhausted by “The Office” environment. The opportunity for independence is a promising motivation for customers. isn’t just a place for the outdoor consumer to get his/her gear, but rather a place that helps to define the customer—to validate the customer’s beliefs and further persuade him/her to become something more.  Its retail website ratifies the customer’s need to feel sophisticated (by being minimalistic and modern) but also the independence seeker.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

How to write an effective resume: good tips

I recently attended a resume writing seminar and learned some very helpful tips. 

  • The employer is buying your education
  • A resume is a polished and professional IMPACT statement
  • A basic chronology of your related experience shapes your interview questions
  • In your cover letter show you can solve complex problems, think critically, be innovative, and communicate effectively
In the Resume:

  • Focus on results and impact
  • Show what you did, not what responsibilities you had
  • Your resume must get attention in 15-30 seconds
  • Write from the employer's perspective
  • Write and be prepared to talk about your experiences in this manner: Position > Responsibility > Action > Result
  • Don't try to be the jack of all trades
  • At the end of interview ask, "If I have any questions, may I call you? Thank You"

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

REI: Rethink living

Our final project dealt with REI and catering an advertising campaign to the "non-outdoor consumer." It was a tough one but here's what we came up with.

Our campaign stems from using the word "rethink"--rethink living.

Headline: Rethink your Commute

Headline: Rethink your Commute
Copy: Carpool, traffic, and subway are three words that make you twinge. But the word commute shouldn’t. It’s time to shake up your travels to work and turn them into adventures. Is it snowy? Try skiing. Is it sunny? Try cycling. REI will provide the equipment you need so that when you get to work you have a story to tell. Finally you have something to brag about at the water cooler.

Headline: Rethink Dining Out
Copy: This restaurant is unique. No windows, walls, hosts, or hostesses. The only oven you’ll find is Dutch and the only stove you’ll find is Coleman. The patrons are those you call friends and family. Food is accompanied by stories and laughter. REI can supply everything you need to dine under the stars, your job is to recruit hungry diners.

Headline: Rethink the Movies
Copy: The plot is simple but the characters are complex. You’ve heard about them for years but it’s this night that they really shine. Ursa Major and Minor played starring roles, and Orion’s performance is worthy of accolades. REI had everything we needed to make this movie night perfect. From the chairs to the headlamp the night was perfect. The best part about the night, no crowds.

Homepage with banner redesign (above).

Inside page for "Reinvent" in the navigation.