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It's Valentine Day. So go and buy me something... darling

 

Today is Valentine’s Day, and it seems that the marketing of the day, and of many occasions throughout the year, has stepped up substantially over the past couple of years. Many believe that Valentine’s Day (or VD for short), is now simply feeding our consumerist culture. But there is probably more to it than simply marketing gone mad – although marketers are pretty good at tapping into our very human vulnerabilities.

Co-creation and the new world of marketing

Are you one of the thousands of people around the world in the past couple of days who created your “A look back” Facebook movie? Did it make you cry? Or maybe laugh at your wacky life?

The videos were a new feature available to Facebook users developed to celebrate the social network’s 10th anniversary. The program uses photos and activity from your Facebook feed to create a one-minute movie, accompanied by music that gets you emotionally involved.

But this wasn’t just for fun. The movies are examples of a clever contemporary technique used by marketers to build loyalty for declining brands.

Is this an ad for haircare products, or a feminist discourse?

There's been a bit of a flurry on the internets and in the media about this advertisement (below) from Pantene in the Philippines. Many have questioned whether this is an advertisement for a hair product, or something bigger - perhaps a contribution to the feminist discourse.

It certainly has the capacity to contribute to a discussion about the role of women in the workplace, and some of the entrenched difficulties that women have when compared to the way that men operate (and are rewarded).

My brilliant colleague, Amanda Allisey, put it eloquently recently when arguing (on that great font of debate, Facebook) about the media's portrayal of women, and how it influences social norms (which means we don't notice it):

Ryanair, "It's your fault"

If you've ever travelled Ryanair in the UK or Europe, you'll understand why their unofficial motto is, "It's your fault".

It seems that having created a market for budget travellers, with no service, let alone no frills, CEO Micheal O'Leary, has been forced by market pressures to ease up on the no frills, and start to offer at least some elements of what could be termed the core offering of an airline. This may or may not mean the cessation of sales of lottery tickets on flights.

Huge numbers of travellers have travelled with Ryanair since its inception, and while complaining about it, have travelled in numbers large enough to keep it relatively sucessful (until now). 

A different view of consumer vulnerability

This article was co-written with Kathryn Chalmers

Consumer vulnerability is often described in terms of consumer characteristics or demographics such as age, disability, gender, race/ethnicity, low or limited literacy, and level of education. In general, these measures are useful indicators of potential vulnerability, and most government departments, large institutions and commercial businesses use these to operationalise their vulnerability and disability programs and policies.

Sport, drugs, organised crime and memories of scandals past

 

We are surprisingly poor judges how a particular event will make us feel into the future. In other words, we rely on how we feel right now to predict how we might feel about something later. Psychologists call it affective forecasting.

A whole new world of communication: Combating the obesity crisis

During the past forty years global rates of overweight and obesity have risen dramatically. In 2010 more than 155 million children worldwide were overweight (more than one in ten) and of these approximately 30-45 million were obese, or between two and three per cent of the world’s 5-17 year-old children.

In Australia, more than 14 million people fall within the overweight or obese range, and Australia is ranked as one of the fattest nations in the developed world. The prevalence of obesity in Australia has more than doubled in the past 20 years, and children are at particular risk of overweight and obesity.

But the answer is probably not a ban on all marketing to children. In the first instance, simply the practicalities of a blanket ban would be incredibly difficult, particularly in trying to keep up with the constantly changing promotional environment.

A new era of consumer protection?

If the goal of product disclosure statement (PDS) is to help consumers make the most appropriate choices, we have to start with the consumer, rather than the document.

So, when we think about consumers, decision-making, and even consumer protection, we need to understand how people decide, and the processes they use to understand information.

The insipid, incremental new world of advertising

As advertising opportunities for businesses become more fragmented, enhanced and accelerated by the Internet, businesses are looking for more creative ways to get their brands into the minds of their target markets.

With this in mind, on Wednesday, Spotify – the Swedish music streaming service that gives subscribers who pay with cash, or by listening to ads, access to a huge amount of music from major and independent record labels – unveiled a global partnership with Coca-Cola. The soft drink behemoth will curate content and music for Spotify members, and according to Coke, “takes advantage of the existing Spotify relationship with Facebook and the Coca-Cola Facebook audience of over 40 million fans to create a social experience that will reach millions of interconnected consumers around the world.”

Two hour game of squash, anyone?

When you walk into Hungry Jacks, or McDonalds, or Kentucky Fried Chicken, and order your Whopper Value Meal, Big Mac Value Meal, or Ultimate Burger Meal, what does 1430kj, 2590kj and 3800kj (approx.) mean to you? Probably not very much.

But, instead of esoteric energy counts, what if you were confronted with something more comprehensible, like 75 minutes of sprinting (Medium Whopper Value Meal), or a 2 hour game of squash (Large Big Mac Value Meal), or, perhaps 5 hours of fast swimming (Ultimate Burger Meal)? Would you think again about buying all that food?

I think you would.

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