MK 354 Spring 2010

April 25, 2010

Plan To Ban Burqas

Filed under: blog #10 — marissaestrada @ 9:57 pm

Not too long ago, women in Afghanistan were being forced to hide their faces with veils called burqas. That was when the Taliban ruled over the deeply conservative country, but since the US Invasion that ended the Taliban’s rule in 2001, many women have stopped hiding behind their burqas. There are still many women, specifically in urban areas and in the southern part of Afghanistan, that continue wearing their burqa.

Controversy over burqas has once again made the news after several European countries have pushed to ban wearing burqas all together, a move which “restricts a Muslim woman’s choice in countries that otherwise make a fuss about personal rights.”

France, which has the largest Muslim population in Europe, as well as Italy and Belgium are the countries considering the ban burqas and face veils because “many see them as the subjugation of women.”

Women such as 35-year-old Afghan government employee Shukriya Ahmadi see the ban as a way for the government to “use democracy, freedom of religion and human rights issues only when it suits their purposes,” and ultimately see the ban as a major double standard. Others are against the ban because of it’s violation of a woman’s right to choose what she does or does not wear, or whether she shows her face or not.

I am personally outraged by even the proposal of such a ban. I see this as a complete obstruction of personal choice. Even though these countries proposing the ban are trying to liberate Muslim women of the burden the burqa enforces, they are actually furthering women’s oppression by telling them they absolutely cannot do something. It is very simple, men and women both should feel free to express themselves however he or she pleases.



April 11, 2010

Child Brides

Filed under: blog #9 — marissaestrada @ 11:43 pm

Twelve-year-old girls getting married may sound outrageous to many people all over the world, but for many girls this is reality. Teen marriage is a serious issue that not only raises ethical dilemmas, but medical dilemmas, too. In places such as Yemen, these forced marriages are beginning to gain a lot of attention.

On March 29, a 12-year-old Yemeni bride died of internal bleeding following intercourse three days after her marriage to a man more than twice her age. “Her death is a painful reminder of the risks girls face when they are married too soon,” said Sigrid Kaag, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa. The young girl’s death is only the latest in a series of cases similar to hers. In September, another 12-year-old girl who was forced into marriage died during childbirth after three days of labor, along with her baby.

Child brides are very common in Yemen, where the legal age for marriage is still under debate. Most girls are married before their 18th birthday. The parents of these young girls are the ones who benefit; they no longer bear the financial burden their daughters present. Most parents get a promise from the husband-to-be to wait until the daughter is physically able to consummate the marriage, but apparently they are not waiting long enough.

The Yemeni government is working tirelessly to solidify the minimum age for marriage, but so far no change has been made to protect the young and innocent girls forced into dangerous marriages.


April 5, 2010

Women’s History Month

Filed under: blog #8 — marissaestrada @ 11:08 am

March is Women’s History Month, and this year marked the 30th anniversary of celebrating women and their place in history. Herstory Month – as it is sometimes called today – began in 1978 when the Education Task force of Sonoma (California) Commission on the Status of Women initiated a Women’s History Week during the week of March 8. The celebration of women was positively received, and a number of other organizations began to have celebrations of their own. By the following year, the idea of celebrating women’s history became very popular, and organizations such as Sarah Lawrence College became determined to start more projects like this one, and even agreed to push support for Congress to institute a national Women’s History Week. In 1981, Women’s History Week was instituted, and in 1987 the resolution was expanded to celebrate Women’s History Month during the entire month of March.

Women’s History Month celebrates women in many areas of history including writing, science, art and education. The women it celebrates are the women who overcame the barriers society set on women and the women who made it possible for women to have the rights that we have today. I find it incredibly important to celebrate such women. So many women and girls in the world today need to know that challenges can be overcome and that women and men are equal in society. Teen Voices is dedicated to shaping teen girls to be become women like the ones from the past that are celebrated today.

More information about Women’s History Month can be found at

March 28, 2010

Human Trafficking

Filed under: Uncategorized — marissaestrada @ 11:17 pm

Dallas Jessup is an 18-year-old activist and speaker on the issue of sex trafficking. The freshman at Vanderbilt University has worked to empower girls to protect themselves from predators and human traffickers since she was 13, and was recently asked by The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission to testify before Congress about human trafficking in the United States and around the world.

Jessup has spoken at a number of women’s, non-profit and youth events across the country, as well as at human trafficking conferences at universities in India and at various other events. The goal of her work is to teach young women to defend themselves and to resist being abducted when they come into contact with predators or sex traffickers. She says that educating girls and women about the issue is the only way to fight global trafficking. Jessup is trained in Fillipino street fighting and has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. In 2006, she found support to create an instructional film about how to defend against predators and traffickers. The video is used around the world to teach women self-defense. Some of its users include the New York Police Department and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

I think that what Jessup is doing is very commendable. As a young woman living in an urban city, I understand how vulnerable I must appear to some. I am fortunate enough to know how to protect myself and therefore am not afraid to be out and about in the city. I do think that all girls and women should learn basic tactics for defending themselves, especially in urban areas. Human trafficking is a serious issue around the globe, and by educating women about it, it can finally come to an end.


March 21, 2010


Filed under: blog #6 — marissaestrada @ 10:42 pm

The skin care product Proactive utilizes a recognizable story-telling ad campaign to display how well their product works. These campaigns tell stories about users’ acne-ridden faces that turned perfect by using Proactive. Viewers have watched testimonials from celebrities such as Kelly Clarkson, Jessica Simpson, and Avril Lavine, as well as non-celebrities that describe how much their lives have been changed by this product.

In the ads, users relay the difficulties their acne caused in their lives; stories about how it hindered their social lives and beat down their confidence levels. Before and after pictures are shown to visualize the effectiveness of the product, and users explain how much better life is with cleaner and clearer skin

The Proactive campaigns fit Chip and Dan Heath’s criteria for a “sticky” story. In the chapter about stories in their book Made to Stick, the Heaths explain that a good story simulates the actual experience of using a product, or that it is like a flight simulation for the brain. Proactive commercials simulate what life is like before Proactive, during Proactive us, and after Proactive, which places the knowledge about Proactive into what the Heaths call a “lifelike framework.” Furthermore, this campaign is effective because it fulfills all of the SUCCESs factors described in Made to Stick. The campaign tells multiples stories about the product. The stories told have an unexpected outcome; who would expect such terrible acne could be fixed so easily? The ads show concrete evidence with the before and after pictures and are credible because of their testimonials. The emotional factor also exists because peoples’ appearance evokes emotion.

February 21, 2010

The Truth

Filed under: blog #4 — marissaestrada @ 2:35 pm

Some ads on television are completely shocking. So, what makes them so shocking? The true, credible facts presented that catch viewers’ attention and don’t let it go. Take, for example, the Truth ads presented by These ads feature teams of people placing strange obstructions around city streets in order to present shocking statistics and facts about smoking and the tobacco industry.

One of the Truth ads that really resonate in my mind is the Body Bags ad. In this ad, truckloads of body bags are emptied onto city sidewalks outside of a major tobacco company’s office building. One of the anti-smoking activists in the ad announces that “this is what 1200 people actually look like” over a megaphone, referring to the 1200 people that die every day due to complications from tobacco. The statistic is then reinforced visually when a poster reading “Every day 1200 people die from tobacco” is shown at the end of the ad.

This ad is a perfect representation of Chip and Dan Heath’s criteria for credible writing in their book Made to Stick.’s core idea is that smoking is bad, and the body bags piling up on the street present vivid and meaningful details that support the core idea and boost the organization’s credibility. What boosts its credibility more, though, is the use of statistics in the ad. The ad contextualizes what 1200 people look like, rather than just saying that 1200 people die daily from tobacco. Like the Heath’s example about the growth of nuclear weapons since World War II, illustrating the relationship between what 1200 people sounds like and what 1200 people actually is makes this ad very credible and effective.

February 15, 2010

“There’s An App For That”

Filed under: blog #3 — marissaestrada @ 11:49 pm

The best way to explain what the Heaths mean when they say writing should be “concrete” is to say that writing should show a reader an idea rather than tell a reader an idea; to turn an abstract idea into a solid one that anyone can understand. One company that has found a way to grasp concreteness perfectly is Apple, and they have portrayed this in their “There’s An App For That” iPhone 3G commercials.

The commercials fall into all three categories the Heaths have discussed thus far. These ads are simple, as they only show the iPhone itself with a hand holding it against a white backdrop and use simple, understandable language spoken by a narrator with a simple (but not monotone) voice. They are unexpected (or were at the time they were first released) because the commercials show a phone doing things other phones could not do at the time. But what is really great about these ads is the way they show the audience how the iPhone’s many applications work rather than telling the audience how they work.

By showing the audience how the phone works and what its capabilities are, Apple found a way to stick into peoples’ minds (even more stuck than they already were). “There’s an app for that” became a phrase commonly understood by most people, especially by Apple’s target audience, proving that concreteness is a successful way of making an idea “stick.”

February 7, 2010

The Wind.

Filed under: blog #2 — marissaestrada @ 6:49 pm

So often, commercials are overlooked because they are mundane or unoriginal. They fail to keep our attention and cause us to change the channel without watching even one thirty-second spot. It’s always such a nice surprise when the first five seconds of a commercial make you want to keep watching, when they make you wonder “what’s going on here?”

Epuron, a German based company that develops innovative ways of harvesting wind as an alternative energy source, found the perfect way to advertise an overlooked commodity – wind. How does someone advertise such a product? By using “sticky” strategies like the element of surprise and simplicity, that’s how.

The company created a two minute long commercial in which an awkward, beastly looking human wanders the streets of a city doing seemingly rude and annoying tasks like walking by a woman and lifting her skirt, tampering with another woman’s hair, inverting a man’s umbrella, and rustling a man’s newspaper. While he does so, the man tells the audience about how he is so misunderstood, how he feels so out of place in society, and how he felt he could never fit in. In the end, though, he tells the audience about how he has finally found his place in society. He is the wind and he can be harvested as an alternative energy source to power the city.

I think this commercial is one of the most creative, and by far one of the most unexpected commercials I have ever seen. The first time I watched it I could not, for the life of me, figure out what this commercial could possibly be selling! I didn’t see any labels for products and I couldn’t figure out why this man wrecking things could possibly be selling something. When I found out it was promoting wind energy I was completely surprised.

The commercial fits Made to Stick’s criteria for a sticky, unexpected way of communicating perfectly. The Unexpected chapter posed three criteria for creating an unexpected message: Find the core of the message, find the unexpected implications about the core, and break the audiences guessing machine.

The core message of this commercial is that wind is everywhere, and the unexpected implication about the core is that it can be put to use rather than simply existing to annoy people. Lastly, the audience would probably not guess that this commercial was for, and the last guess would be that the commercial is promoting wind energy.

Overall, I think this commercial is a perfect example of an unexpected communication strategy, and does a great job breaking the pattern of mundane, uninteresting commercials.

January 31, 2010

MADD: Broken Teens

Filed under: blog #1 — marissaestrada @ 7:43 pm

Throughout our teen years, Americans are bombarded with anti-drinking public service announcements, most of which are sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD; PSAs showing atrocious car accidents, grief-stricken family and friends, and innocent-looking kids behind bars. Most of these, though, get lost amongst the clutter of PSAs telling kids how not to live their lives.

After reading the chapter about simplicity in Made to Stick, though, I realized why MADD’s public service announcements are successful. It has one core message that is clearly stated in all spots; that drinking is detrimental to a teen’s life. Their most recent PSA is one that focuses on the physical repercussions of drinking rather than just the legal ones. This spot shows multiple teens breaking liquor bottles over their heads, implying the physical damage that drinking does to the teenager’s brain. The dramatic music and slow motion collapsing of the actors draws out emotion in the viewer, but the last frame of the commercial reads “Teen drinking causes brain damage,” thus delivering the ultimate message of the campaign. The PSA is only one part of MADD’s current campaign. The campaign’s website,, mirrors the PSAs simplicity by offering short, concise facts about the effects of  drinking on a teen’s brain.

I think that the simplicity in this PSA really works because the message is perfectly clear from the very beginning. Made to Stick says that the most important insight should shine through, and in this case I think this is achieved. The PSA prioritized the main message by using a concise proverb stating “teen drinking causes brain damage” at the end of the spot. It is short, understandable, and effective. Overall, I think this PSA is a great example of the authors’ message in this chapter.

Create a free website or blog at