MK 354 Spring 2010

April 26, 2010

Nike’s Problem with Women

Filed under: blog #10, Uncategorized — carolinerichov @ 12:14 pm

Nike seems to be having troubles with their ethical priorities.  In 2007 Nike showed they had zero-tolerance for animal-cruelty when they dropped out of their contract with Michael Vick during his dog-fighting scandal.  Nike has sponsored other athletes including Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant and Ben Roethlisberger. These all-stars have more in common than Nike… they all have shared the spotlight in regard to indecent and insulting behavior towards women.

Most recently, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, was suspended for six games without pay and ordered to receive counseling after a 20-year-old woman accused him of sexual assault. This is Roethlisberger’s second sexual assault allegation in the past year.  A number of blogs and articles have discussed the disturbing charges against Roethlisberger in greater detail. Roethlisberger’s local sponsors “Big Ben’s Beef Jerky” and local newspaper dropped Roethlisberger immediately.  Nike, however, is holding on to Roethlisberger’s contract.  New York Times opinon writer, Timothy Egan, could not have said it better,

“Is there anything creepier than a big, beer-breathed celebrity athlete exposing himself in a night club and hitting on underage girls, all the while protected by an entourage of off-duty cops? Well, yes. It’s the big, corporate sponsor — Nike, in this case — that continues trying to sell product with the creep as their role model.”

Nike took immediate action when cruelty to animals became an issue with one of their spokespersons.  Unfortunately, when Woods, Bryant and Roethlisberger showed disrespect towards women, Nike continued to support them.

Women, Action & the Media is concerned with the representation of women in media.  Nike’s choice to continue contracts with these athletes desensitizes the severity of sexual assault, violence and infidelity.  Nike needs to prioritize what they consider to be unacceptable. Cruelty to animals is unacceptable, yes, but so is cruelty to women.  Nike’s continued support of these sponsored athletes is a clear example of why WAM! advocates gender justice in the media. WAM! organizes conferences and discussion groups to address issues such as this in order to formulate a response and take action. 

It certainly will be interesting to see how Nike will respond to all of this. ..

April 5, 2010

Not Your Everyday Videogame

Filed under: blog #8 — carolinerichov @ 12:01 pm

It begins with a girl on a train platform. She notices you looking at her and you choose your method of assault. The girl steps into the subway and you, the videogame player, follow her aboard. With a just click of your mouse, you can grope and rape… It’s all part of the game.

Pretty sick, huh? The Japanese videogame, RapeLay, allows the player to have his way with the game’s female characters. The motive in each story is revenge. The player can assault, molest and even impregnate a girl and urge her to have an abortion.

It’s no wonder RapeLay caused major controversy when it was first released in Japan in 2006. The game makes Grand Theft Auto look G-rated; it was never released in the U.S. because of its questionable content. Today the game has gone viral and is being played across the globe. 

CNN covered the story last week when international outrage from women’s rights groups resurfaced interest in the game. Women, Action and the Media is concerned with gender equality across all kinds of media- including videogames. As part of its mission, WAM! wants to change how women are represented through media. The WAM! Web site states, “since 2004, there has been a 120% increase in depictions of violence against women on television. An even more disturbing finding was the 400% increase in the depictions of teen girls as the victims of violence.”

Taina Bien-Aime, of Equality Now, states, “These sort of games normalize, promote and simulate extreme sexual violence, sexual torture, stalking and rape against women and girls. They have no place in our communities.” Personally, I couldn’t agree more.

March 29, 2010

Sexism at Newsweek

Filed under: blog #10 — carolinerichov @ 1:06 pm

“The truth is no matter how much I respect my female co-workers I eventually think about putting my hands on their chest whenever I talk to them… And female bosses, I constantly think about having sex with them.”

Yes, someone said this.  This comment, along with dozzens of others, was in response to the article, Are We There Yet?  in this weeks Newsweek.  The article reflects upon the progression of sexism in the workplace- particularly at Newsweek.  Three female writers depict the 1970 lawsuit against Newsweek when 46-women media professionals sued for employment discrimination based on gender.  They illustrate the changes Newsweek has made over the past 40 years but admit the company, as well as others, still have a long way to go.

The three female writers and Newsweek employees, Jessica Bennett, Jesse Ellison and Sarah Ball, investigated the company and spoke with coworkers and past employees.  They wanted to gain greater insights about how the organization has changed and how employees currently feel about gender issues in the workplace:

If a man takes an interest in our work, we can’t help but think about the male superior who advised “using our sexuality” to get ahead, or the manager who winkingly asked one of us, apropos of nothing, to “bake me cookies.” One young colleague recalls being teased about the older male boss who lingered near her desk. “What am I supposed to do with that? Assume that’s the explanation for any accomplishments? Assume my work isn’t valuable?” she asks. “It gets in your head, which is the most insidious part.”

Newsweek provided an outlet for Bennet, Ellison and Ball  to publicize their criticism of the organization.  This suggests that Newsweek is willing to open itself up to examination and critique.  By promoting this critique Newsweek shows a commitment to gender equality and a willingness to discuss the matter.  The writers have started their own blog to facilitate discussion pertaining to related gender issues.

Women, Action and the Media (WAM!) formed to addess the same issues the three Newsweek employees address.  WAM! is aware of the gender inequalities in the workplace, especially across media professions.  WAM! organizes conferences and workshops as part of an advocacy movement for gender justice in media.  Newsweek and Are We There Yet illustrate many of the reasons why WAM! makes efforts to achieve gender equality.  I am sure Bennet, Ellison and Ball would agree with WAM! in saying, “power and privilege is about who gets to speak and who is listened to, and most of the time it’s not women.”

March 22, 2010

Economics Made Interesting

Filed under: blog #6 — carolinerichov @ 12:51 pm

Looking to strike up a dry, uninteresting conversation? Talk economics: it’s not uncommon for most people to dread the thought of the topic.  Interestingly enough, when economist Steven Levitt and “New York Times” journalist Stephen Dubner paired up to write “Freakonomics,” they were able get people to think of economics in a much different way.

InFreakonomics”, Levitt and Dubner apply economic research and analysis to link the events and problems of everyday life and turn conventional wisdom upside down.   The book is easy to read and understand: addressing interesting and unusual questions in a very accessible way.  Instead of listing off statistics and relationships that are likely to be forgotten, Levitt and Dubner use a balance of economic analysis and stories to answer questions including, “what do teachers and wrestlers have in common?,” “why do drug dealers still live with their moms?” and “what makes a perfect parent?”

In Chip and Dan Heath’s “Made to Stick,” they say “a story is powerful because it provides the context missing from abstract prose” (214).  In “Freakonomics,” Levitt and Dubner successfully take economic statistics and create entertaining stories for readers to take interest in and therefore, more easily understand.   By “putting knowledge into a framework that is more lifelike, more true to our day-to-day existence” (214), “Freakonomics” engages the reader by using stories to create a more concrete and unexpected way to view economics.

February 21, 2010

Credibility in the Antiauthority

Filed under: blog #4 — carolinerichov @ 5:39 pm

Think you know the world’s best-selling car?  If you’ve forgotten, ask someone you know… they might drive one.  It wouldn’t be surprising if cars current reputation has clouded your memory- but before the complaints, investigations and recalls, the Toyota Corolla was the world’s top seller.

Last year 1.3 million people purchased a new Corolla. For most people, purchasing a new car is usually not an impulse buy.  As consumers we do research, ask others for advice and scope out our options before making a final purchase.  With so many choices and different car advertisements, it is easy to “develop skepticism about the sources of those messages” (137).  Buying a new car can be a difficult process and credibility plays a major role in our decisions.

In “Made to Stick”, Chip and Dan Heath propose the question, “what makes people believe ideas?”  They continue to explain that we believe our parents, our friends and our experiences- the greatest credibility comes from those we know and what we’ve been through.  Toyota took this concept and marketed the Corolla stating “the most compelling reason to buy a new Corolla is an old Corolla”.  Based on the cars fuel efficiency and mileage, Toyota suggests the consumer be their own source of credibility based on past experiences with the car.  In addition, Toyota challenges the consumer saying “just ask someone you know who drives one”.  Instead of Toyota as the authorities telling you why you should buy their car (which they obviously want you to do), they suggest you ask others:  those who aren’t in business for your money.  It is these people, the antiauthorities, that the consumer truly finds credible.  Just as the Heath brothers illustrate a commercial about a great new shampoo having less credibility than hearing our friend rave about it, a consumer finds more credibility in a Corolla driver than in the Corolla commercial.

Even though current problems with Toyota may seem to hurt its credibility, it was the credibility of antiauthorities- Toyota drivers all over the world- that made the Corolla the best-selling car.

February 16, 2010

A Concrete Idea from Chegg.com

Filed under: blog #3 — carolinerichov @ 1:08 pm

As students, there is a certain point of the school semester we dislike most- buying textbooks.  Throughout the college years we spend thousands of dollars on textbooks that are likely to be collecting dust on our bookshelves for years to come. 

A few years back, someone finally realized an opportunity in the market of textbook-buying college students.  This extremely smart individual started Chegg.com- a place where people could rent textbooks for less than half the price of a new text.  Chegg saves its customers a great amount of money and makes it easy for them to return books in the same box they arrived in with a free return label included.  

Yes, Chegg is great- it saves us money and space on our bookshelf… but how exactly does it fit into Chip and Dan Heath’s model of concreteness?

According to the Heath brothers, concrete ideas help people understand new concepts and are easy to remember (106).  The product in itself is simple and sensible- renting a textbook for a few months is clearly going to be less costly than purchasing a book to own.  Chegg takes another step and reminds its customers that renting and re-circulating books saves hundreds of thousands of trees each year (www.chegg.com). To make this idea concrete, Chegg teamed up with the American Forests’ Global Releaf Program so for every book rented or sold, a tree is planted. The customer is able to choose the location from a world map where they would like their tree to be planted, and is congratulated for their contribution to the environment.

Heath and Heath claim that “it is easier to understand tangible actions than it is to understand an abstract strategy” (100). By engaging the customer in the process of planting a tree, Chegg makes it concrete and easy for the customer to understand that renting books saves trees… and money.

February 8, 2010

Hooked on Reality

Filed under: blog #2, Uncategorized — carolinerichov @ 1:47 pm

There is no denying it: at one point or another you tuned in to see what was happening on The Jersey Shore. If, perhaps you wanted to save a couple brain cells, you may have watched who was getting kicked off American Idol, getting intimate on The Bachelor, losing the most weight on The Biggest Loser, or causing drama with The Real Housewives. Whatever your show of choice may be, there is no denying that reality television has become an integral part of our lives. 

Reality shows have captivated audiences and topped the ratings. They are definitely “sticky”. As Heath and Heath explain, “to be surprising, and event can’t be predictable” (71).   Different from the classic sitcoms and drama, which can sometimes seem cliché and repetitive, reality shows are unscripted and play out in unpredictable ways.  Watching ordinary people react to bazaar scenarios and unreal situations, an audience doesn’t know what to expect. Always curious to know what these ordinary individuals will do, the “knowledge gap” keeps viewers wanting more.

Producers of reality shows often add in unexpected challenges for participants.  By relocating, taking exotic trips, adding new group member, enforcing eliminations, and bringing back previously eliminated participants; reality shows are always surprising the audience with the unpredictable.

It seems as though many of us are often ashamed of watching certain reality shows.  The reality is, producers know how to draw is in and keep us stuck on watching them. They are unscripted, unpredictable, and unexpected.

January 31, 2010

The Truth

Filed under: blog #1 — carolinerichov @ 7:20 pm

It was Saturday morning and my sister and I decided to make a very brave choice…. We bundled up and headed out to do errands on the coldest morning this winter has seen thus far. Leaving my apartment building, I saw one other lonely brave soul who, still in their pajamas, had gone outside to have their morning cigarette.  After passing, my sister and I said simultaneously “Who even smokes anymore?”

We went on to discuss how it seems as though there has been a noticeable decline in the number of smokers. I said to her, “I wouldn’t be surprised if The Truth ads had something to do with it.”

Bingo. There it was: Simplicity. The Truth anti-smoking campaign couldn’t have been any simpler: Smoking kills and that is the truth.

I still remember the first time I saw one of the commercials on TV. They didn’t tell smokers they should quit, or why they should. They didn’t explain to smokers the negative effects smoking has on their bodies or tell them they may get cancer or disease.  They showed us 1200 body bags and said cigarettes were to blame.

Simple = core + compact. Their core message is that smoking kills and they deliver that message with the compact idea of body bags.  It’s actually so simple that it makes me think, why hadn’t any other anti-smoking organizations thought of it earlier?

Yes, these ads are definitely “sticky”. Not only are they simple but they also meet all six principles of sticky ideas. This is probably why this campaign has been so successful and memorable.

If you have a few minutes, check out their newest series of ads, “Do You Have What It Takes?”. They are pretty clever…. and entertaining.

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