Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Guest blogger contemplates THAT ROCK

Our guest blogger today is Justine Rayborn, a Siegel Fellow at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. — Justine shares a probing meditation on a powerful cultural symbol... 

I'm that little girl. Assuming vaguely that ALL little girls dream of a beautiful princess wedding some day.  Every day I’m counting down to a wedding I haven’t even been asked to have yet. Most people get engaged before they hope for a wedding. But what does a giant diamond costing several thousand dollars sitting atop a freshly manicured hand actually mean? If a man loves you... shouldn’t that be enough? Why is it that I, like I’m sure a lot of the world, desire a rock to symbolize love? Why is it that my monogamous relationship with my boyfriend is in need of a materialistic validation? The reason I ask... is because I don’t quite know the answer.
         I suppose I revert to my ten-year-old self on the daily every time I scroll down Pinterest and add things to my ‘wedding board’. Even more so when I drag my boyfriend into 100 different jewelry stores to remind him for the UMPTEENTH time, that I soon want that rock on my finger. But what is it that makes us women crave that ring? Would a wedding be the same without a proposal that had a ring? Does the ring truly symbolize the undying love a man has for you... or is an engagement ring just an expensive way for a man to mark his territory?
         I guess it all depends on what commitment means to you. I’ve met people who don’t believe in marriage at all, people who don’t believe in wedding rings and instead have matching tattoos… and then there’s me who simply (or not so simply) wants a lovely diamond. But let’s be real: Do I want that diamond because I think it changes the love my boyfriend and I share… or would it change our wedding in any way if I didn’t have one? Or do I want that ring so that every girl who sees it is envious and knows my ‘fiancé' is taken?

         It doesn't seem to me that an engagement ring is simply an engagement ring anymore. Something has changed the meaning for us. So all that's left is to ask myself, do I want a shiny ring to symbolize our love – or have rings become a relationship brand – a jealousy inducer... that I too have become a victim to.
—Justine Rayborn

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Wells Fargo stages comeback

Last September Wells Fargo fired more than 5000 employees because they opened millions of accounts in the name of unaware or hoodwinked customers. Apparently, the pressure to sell banking products had transformed ordinary, boring bank workers into the kind of people who steal rings off the fingers of the dead. 

After feeble efforts to apologize, the CEO was forced out — and now the bank is back in the marketplace with just-normal-old-business advertising. 

But how do you pull off the transition from heated scandal to tepid normality? This ad from a recent New Yorker illustrates how the pros do it.
Let's imagine the meeting of headline writers:

Young copywriter: Let's write, "We help our customers."
Senior officer: No, too soon for that. 

Middle-aged copywriter: How about, "We build solid relationships."
Banking client: No, feelings are still too raw.

Senior copywriter: I've got it: "We lend money to help your business grow."
Entire team: No, too specific. People would be suspicious.

Finally, a vodka-soaked, cynical veteran declares
Relationships that are invested in your success.

...and the room breaks out in applause. It's the perfect scramble of familiar words that make no sense, allude to no problems and direct your eyes to something you might really like: Horses pulling men in cowboy costumes


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Live mas? — Down with Spanglish!

Tonight's guest post comes from Leslie Smith, a Siegel Fellow at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and senior in my Strategic Communication class

As a native Spanish speaker, I am ashamed to say that I rarely speak the language without using English words it the middle of my sentences. Even when I visit the Dominican Republic, I hear Spanish conversations inundated with English words and phrases. Back home we call this “Spanglish.”

¿Estás ready? Are you ready?

Tengo que pasar por mi locker. I have to stop by my locker.

Spanish speakers consistently use English terms. Centro comercial has been replaced by “mall;” people no longer have objetivos, they have “targets” or “goals;” and instead of reuniones, people attendmeetings. Tal vez suene“cool.” It may sound cool, but to the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) it sounds ridículo.

RAE has been ensuring the proper use of the Spanish language for three centuries. It finally grew tired of the flagrant abuse of the language, and started a campaign against the use of Anglicism in advertising. RAE is unapologetically proud of Spanish, and it is evident it the campaign. 

The campaign, Lengua Madre Solo Hay Una (Mother Tongue There is Only One), introduced to the market real products with English names: “Swine,” a perfume for women with the tagline “New Fragrance, New Women” and “Sunset Style with Blind Effect,” sunglasses with the tagline “Abre Tus Ojos al Look Fashion.” To English or bilingual speakers, these phrases might sound off, but to people who are not as exposed to English, the products sound “cool.”

To their surprise, consumers received perfumes that smelled like pigs and sunglasses they could not see through. They literally had no idea what they were buying when they placed their order. The campaign was original, ingenious and daring — perfect for the target audience. People who speak “Spanglish” tend to need more than a logical argument to stop using unnecessary Anglicism.

The campaign targets what is called “System 1” of the learning process. The reaction is swift and almost automatic: something is wrong. This makes the audience more susceptible to "System 2": Thinking about why? Thus, re-framing the reliance on English from “cool” to “ridiculous.” 

Although the campaign is different from the conventional strategies used by RAE, it remains true to the organization’s identity, positioning and culture: We speak proper Spanish.

— Leslie Smith

Monday, November 28, 2016

Advertising to the Kid in Me

Tonight's guest post comes from Ajibola Allison, Siegel Fellow at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and student in my Strategic Communication class. 

Ever wondered why you love Monday Night football or why you are brought to tears at the sight of a grand slam? Ever thought of why you jump for joy when your favorite team hits a buzzer beater? Maybe it’s because you know how hard it is — or how rare it is to hit a shot from the opposite free throw line… Or maybe you actually tried it yourself at some point of your life.
Any of these examples ring true for the same reason: Perspective. It’s all about having a point of reference, and usually that point of reference is our own lived-experience. And when it comes to sports these experiences usually occur while we are still young.
 During talks of global expansion for the NBA, Adam Silver, Commissioner of the NBA stated, “If kids grow up bouncing balls instead of kicking them, they are much more likely to gravitate to our sport.”
 In other words, it is crucial to appeal to people while they are still young, receptive, and impressionable; it’s the same logic that is currently used to grow soccer in the U.S. Many Millennials (born 1977-1995) actually know the ins and outs of soccer, the same way many Baby Boomers (born 1946- 1964) know their baseball. For the same reason American baseball fans love baseball is the same reason soccer fans love soccer — they grew up playing the game.
As time goes on the ripples of change become very apparent; this is why Millennials may be the answer to all of Major League Soccer’s problems. Since soccer became a professional sport in the United States in 1967, it has been no secret that consumer growth has been hard to come by.  But many studies have shown that the Millennial population has rapidly increased soccer’s growth rate and has the potential of transforming soccer into a mainstream American sport.
The two historical reasons for this are: 1) the American Youth Soccer Organization started to gain real momentum in the 1970s and 2) Major League Soccer was founded in 1993. As a byproduct of this, Millennials were the first generation of kids who grew up in a United States that actually advertised and encouraged playing soccer, making Millennials the generation of America’s first soccer moms.
The truth of soccer’s potential in the US is in the numbers. According to the 2012 ESPN Sports Poll Annual Report,Soccer was America's second-most popular sport for those aged 12-24, ahead of NBA, MLB and college football.” 
       Millennials and generations following are profoundly changing what sports are most relevant to Americans. The ripples of change are already apparent.

—Aji Allison

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Guest Post — A call for resilience

Our guest post today comes from Nicole Vitrit, student of mine in Strategic Communication and a Siegel Fellow at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. 

The Chicago Cubs are going to be forced to give up their World Series title. Cleveland Indians protested their win as both teams scored 27 runs throughout all 7 games, even though the Cubs won 4 games to the Indians' 3. Indian fans have been quoted chanting #NotOurWorldSeriesChampion. Commissioner Manfred believes they are doing the right thing by the nation and believes the Cubs will gladly share their victory.

“Co-world champions?” I am not ashamed to say I was gullible enough to fall for this, all the while reading and thinking to myself, ‘How could they do this? The Cubs haven’t won in 108 years!’ It wasn’t until I actually took the time to re-read this piece that I understood what it is truly about: The 2016 Presidential Election. 

While half of the country has celebrated and been overjoyed that Donald Trump is the new President-Elect, the other half grieves at what is to come in the next four years with Donald Trump as President. 

This is not a post to discuss politics. Rather, it is to simply state that there are winners and losers. Anti-Trump supporters are being viewed as “cry-babies” because they cannot accept the fact that their candidate lost. 

However, it’s nearly impossible to win every race or every game. You pick yourself up, and try harder. Hillary Clinton did just that, and although she may not have won the Presidency she won the hearts of millions of Americans in her quest to ‘break the glass ceiling.’ 

If the Cubs can do it, even after 108 years, anyone can. It’s just a matter of how badly you want something.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Alphabet City

The world is communicating with us at this very moment. We experience shapes and forms and textures and colors along with every breath we take. 

Professor Anne Finkelstein of FIT asks her students to scout around New York City in search of — not great pizza, that's too easy — but letters of the alphabet. 

Check out the alphabets two of her students found. I bet you never noticed that P! — even though you put your fingers around it a hundred times. Ever lock your bike to a useful, curvy M


Hey you trudging along the sidewalk. Wake up! The city is talking to you! It's not just the wind whispering. It's that tree up there... standing alone sternly, looking down at you and asking Y? 


PS: click on the pictures for a better look

Monday, November 14, 2016

“So Vincent…” — Brandsinger responds

So Vincent, I’m very glad you wrote your guest post. We pride ourselves at Brandsinger for posting all points of view, an attitude sadly lacking in some quarters. 

Four quick points:   
1 Your writing is thoughtful, forceful and, near the end, downright eloquent. I now see why you disdained to engage in class discussion, though refusing to engage in civil discussion is one of the sad hallmarks of the recent campaign.

2 As you know, our course is titled “Strategic Communication” – with a focus on what motivates people to act. Our subject is strategy and tactics – the language and images that express ideas and generate supportive behavior. I did not want to turn our post-election class into a forum for political debate.

3 If we had discussed the campaign’s personalities and issues, I assume you would have used the language in your post – “racist, chauvinist, bigot, and misogynist.” I doubt such a conversation would have been a valuable use of our time together. Some commentators on the Left have concluded that labeling opponents was a self-defeating tactic and contributor to Clinton’s defeat.

4 Finally, I was disappointed by your reference to Nazi Germany. “I wonder if on January 31, 1933, students in Germany listened to their educators lecture on how Hitler’s rhetoric effectively cultivated terror as he was appointed Chancellor.” When you begin your avowed efforts to bridge the divide within the United States, I urge you to crack open a few books on Nazi Germany. Start with the carnage and humiliation of WWI, move to the racist philosophy of Hitler, follow the tactics of his henchmen breaking up opponents’ assemblies, murdering political enemies, burning books, purging universities of Jews, and then read about marching families into cattle cars and ultimately gas ovens.

I have the feeling that, once you refresh your knowledge of Hitler’s Germany, you will take more care before seeing supposed parallels to today’s USA — where the social dynamics are unique, complex and worth all our efforts to understand.

Reducing opponents to dismissive labels helped neither party in the recent election. I believe that American voters on both sides rejected the campaigners’ facile stereotypes and slurs. I have confidence that you, Vincent, will do the same.