Ad Analysis: Energy Drinks

Energy drink companies have been one of the most attacked targets for their decisive marketing practices. This attack comes as a result of pinpointed advertising that makes lofty promises to susceptible youth. Many energy drink companies encourage young males to purchase their beverages by suggesting that their drinks have stimulant effects that increase endurance, performance, and attention. The most dominant companies in the segment are also partnering with organizations and individuals involved in extreme sports and activities in effort to increase their credibility as a stimulating and active beverage. As a result of these practices, both the media and the government have begun to disseminate and condemn these undertakings.

While the broader advertising patterns mentioned above try to appeal to a wide cross-section of the population, the advertisements featured here target a much more niche audience. The following advertisements come from Triathlete magazine. Therefore, one must take into account the typical demographic that reads Triathlete magazine when reading an overall evaluation of their energy drink advertisements. The most obvious yet most important fact about triathlete magazine is that triathletes themselves consist of the overwhelming majority of readers. As such, this makes the demographic of the magazine extremely homogenous in a quite few different ways. First, the readers are interested in maintaining an active lifestyle and place an emphasis on health. The readers also enjoy competition and are proficient swimmers, bikers, and runners. These readers enjoy discovering ways to increase their competitive edge over their peers. Finally, as training for a triathlon requires a lot of time and a sizable amount of money, these readers are at the minimum middle class and most likely tend to have sufficient economic security. This homogeneity makes is especially easy for marketers to design advertisements to place in Triathlete magazine.

The first advertisement comes from Now Spots and promotes their “L-Carninitine” energy liquid. This half-page print advertisement utilizes a molten inspired color palate that subconsciously highlights the vitamins and minerals used in their drink. The advertisement builds pathos by showing a pack of male and female triathletes participating in the running portion of the race. Within that group there is one man that is ahead of the others. The problem is that this gap is fairly subtle and it is not immediately clear that his lead is a result of his increased energy from drinking the energy drink. The audience of Triathlete magazine will be able to connect with the situation depicted and will strive to be the man in front. Additionally, this advertisement demonstrates ethos by describing the mission of the brand and by including the year in which the company was founded. Still, the overall layout and design of the advertisement is rather amateurish and does not leave the reader overly eager to go out and purchase the product. A final design flaw is that the disclaimer, that says the FDA did not verify the statements made in the advertisement, is the same size as the promotional text. The advertisement would be improved if this notice were incorporated in a way that was more obscure.

The second advertisement is from the company GU and promotes their energy gel. This is a full, two-page print advertisement. The majority of the ad is dominated by an image of a middle-aged lady who just competed a triathlon and is smiling with her hands in the air. The image is very zoomed-in and does not show any context of the race. The image features a small caption in the bottom left corner that says, “Miranda Carfrae, 3x IRONMAN World Champion, Fueled by GU and Roctane since 2010”. The main problem is that while this statement does build ethos, the connection between the product and her win is not prominent enough. On the left sixth of the page is the only portion of the advertisement to which the image does not extend. That small section contains the company logo, a small picture of the product, and the texts “Congratulations Rinny!” and “Great things come in small packages”. The way in which this entire section is planned out and integrated is very crude and unprofessional. The font choice, white background, and slogan are all very uninspiring and appear to have been chosen without much thought. That being said, the primary issue with this advertisement is that it does not offer the reader any information about the product or convey solid logos. The only knowledge the reader obtains about GU is that it is small and that a winning triathlete uses it.

The standout advertisement is from Gatorade and promotes their Endurance formula. One of the most noteworthy features of this ad is that it achieves a nearly perfect balance between text and imagery so that neither dominates the other and both work together in harmony. The layout consists of four equally sized images, each showing a runner in a distinct environment. This demonstrates pathos because most readers of triathlete magazine are able to make a connection to the advertisement when they see another runner. The way in which these images are arranged is very clever in that each photo leads the viewer’s eyes towards the center, where there is a perfectly sized picture of the product. Above the product photo is a slogan that is witty yet easy to grasp. The designers selected colors that are eye-catching yet show restraint. Likewise, the font that is utilized is sophisticated yet it maintains a contemporary flair. The advertisement conveys a sense of ethos through the quality and sophistication of the ad itself and by incorporating the Gatorade name. One of the most intelligent choices the designers included was information on where to buy the product. While all the ads take into account the demographic to which they are marketing to, this advertisement is definitely the exceptional one of the group as it is clear, professional, concise, informative, and cohesive.

 Works Cited

Gatorade Endurance. Advertisement. Triathlete Nov. 2014: 22. Print.

GU Energy Gel. Advertisement. Triathlete Oct. 2014: 18-19. Print.

Now Sports. Advertisement. Triathlete Dec. 2014: 24-25. Print.

The Connoisseur

In my life, I have had many experiences in which connoisseurs have surrounded me. I have been around them so much that I have even adopted some of their qualities. This is very unusual because a connoisseur is usually somebody that is older and has had a lot of experience in the subject. Nevertheless, there are many varieties connoisseurs out there in the world, yet many of them have certain characteristics that make them similar to their peers.

One thing that all connoisseurs must have to receive the designation is an extensive knowledge of the subject matter. If you were to ask the connoisseur a question about the area, they should be able to give you a well-articulated response regardless of how specific the question may be. That being said, a connoisseur is not just an expert. While an expert may be all knowing as well, the connoisseur is able to distinguish the good from the bad. The connoisseur’s opinion must be credible. He or she must display an intrinsic penchant for assessing the quality of any item in the category of expertise and be able to explain the nuances of why one is better than the other. This evaluative ability does not come from training, but rather from personal experience and intuition. In other words, you can’t teach someone to be a connoisseur; they must have the “sixth sense” ingrained. Furthermore, the ability to assess is not a difficult task, but rather a quick and easy response. The connoisseur does not do research to provide an evaluation. He or she “just knows”. Finally, the connoisseur’s word is the final word in the subject. This means that unless around other connoisseurs of the same discipline, the connoisseur possesses the only valid opinion.

One area in which connoisseurs differ is in their attitude. There is a whole spectrum of the way connoisseurs project themselves. On one end, you have those who are extremely humble considering their ability and are happy to share their knowledge with anybody in a down to earth style. On the other end of the spectrum are those people that are extremely arrogant because of their knowledge. These people tend to be very wealthy and they talk down to everybody else because they simply do not possess the same ability. Of course, there are also many people in between the two extremes.
The New York Times article, “You Call This Thai Food? The Robotic Taster Will Be the Judge,” by Thomas Fuller helps highlight the exceptional qualities of a connoisseur. The e-delicious is not a connoisseur in any sense. While it is able to assign a rating to different curries, it does it through a series of scientific metrics. This machine is not a connoisseur because it lacks the emotional input needed to evaluate and compare. Its fixed set of metrics limit the scope of evaluation. On the other hand, a human connoisseur is multi-faceted and has a broad range of assessment. Ultimately, a machine will never be able to replace a human in the evaluation of something so subjective as food.

Transitional Cutlery

The object that I choose to focus on from Sara Hendren’s blog, Abler, is called transitional cutlery. As somebody who gets a lot of pleasure from food, this item naturally caught my eye since utensils are instrumental in the manner in which we consume our food. When I evaluate a meal that I had, I tend to think of certain things that contribute to my overall dining experience. Such components include the quality of the ingredients, the cooking technique, the creativity of the dish, the presentation, the service, and the ambiance. These are fairly typical measurements that people use to assess their meal. What most people overlook, myself included, is the manner by which food is transported from the plate or bowl to your mouth. We associate certain foods with using certain utensils, or none at all. For example, when you have soup, you use a spoon. When you eat a salad, you use a fork. To cut a steak, you use a knife. To eat a sandwich, you generally do not use any utensils. This may seem obvious because it is, and we take the ability to transport food to our mouth for granted.

For some people, they do not have the luxury of using cutlery to grasp food. Mikael Boulay has developed a special set of utensils for people that are developing motor skills for the first time and lack muscle tone and coordination. While aesthetically striking, Boulay’s solution simplifies what should be a thoughtless task. The cutlery manages to be completely functional for the target audience as well as intriguing from a design perspective.

If somebody accustomed to “typical” silverware were to use the transitional cutlery, they would be quite disconcerted. That being said, exploring with the method by which food reaches our mouths could be an interesting development. As restaurants are always looking for ways to innovate, maybe they need to step back from the food itself and reinvent the process by which it goes from the kitchen to our mouths.

From Research to Investment

As somebody who is interested in the business world, I have done a bit of research in that field. As somebody who is also passionate about cars, I too spend a lot of time looking into the automotive industry. I frequently merge these two interests by further investigating the financial, strategic, and marketing decisions that automakers choose to make. This research that I do is primarily driven by personal curiosity. My research in this field is driven by both the specific aspects of the industry that are most intriguing to me and by the news highlights that come up.

One company that was of great interest to me was Tesla. My original research with the company began as a result of their revolutionary plans. My first experience with the company was learning about their first model, the Roadster. The Tesla Roadster was simply a Lotus Elise body with what were essentially many unified laptop batteries functioning as a power source. While the Roadster was interesting in that it was the first high performance electric car, I, along with many others, came to the conclusion that the car was a low production, niche vehicle. Along with the roadster came many skeptics of the brand’s viability. Throughout history, many independent boutique automakers failed shortly after their inception. At this stage, I was not sure of what the future held for the brand.

The company’s next venture, the Models S, was what really captivated me. This car made headlines around the world and was a hot topic among non-car people. The Tesla Model S was a very bold and ambitious product that the company set lofty expectations for. Tesla promised uncompromised range, stellar performance, practicality, advanced design, and the latest technology.

It was once that Tesla’s vision of the Model S became more of a reality that I realized this had the potential to be more than just a cool development in the industry. As more images, details, and specifications were released, I began to think of the Tesla brand as an investment opportunity. I had some money I had earned and have been told many times that it is better to invest money you do not need than to let it sit in the bank. Taking a leap of confidence, I gave the green light and became an official “owner” of the company. What was once just an intriguing research follow turned into something I had a personal stake in.

Fortunately, for me, my interest in the industry and the further research that I pursued proved to be beneficial. I was fortunate to make my investment before the brand really caught on. Since the time that I made my purchase order, the stock has multiplied roughly ten times the value that I acquired it at. The main takeaway that I have from this experience is that it is worthwhile to research and later pursue the interests you have.

“The Adventure of the Cardboard Box”

In my opinion, “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” does not qualify as literature in the traditional sense. Traditional literature that you study throughout higher education has certain internal characteristic as well as multiple perceived qualities. For me, I personally do not hold a positive attitude towards these perceived qualities.

The intrinsic characteristics of literature all contribute to an added level of complexity. While not every piece of literature will contain all the characteristics, to be classified as traditional literature the work must contain at least one attribute. Perhaps the most pervasive quality is that there is a deeper underlying meaning to any surface level quality. This means that what you initially read usually does not cover the complete scope of significance. Therefore, reading literature requires reading to be slow and active. In some cases, it is necessary to reread the text multiple times to extract the underlying significance. Another intrinsic characteristic is the use of advanced literary devices. This includes the use of symbolism, motif, metaphor, allegory, juxtaposition, paradox, theme and many more. A third characteristic is the development of complex characters. High-level literature is closely associated with the use of round characters that are multifaceted and complicated.

These characteristics often make traditional literature very difficult. This level of difficulty can be quite frustrating to the point where it is not fun. Personally, I would never choose to read a piece of traditional literature during my free time for my own enjoyment.

“The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” does not fit the criteria described above in many ways. The reading is surface level making it an easy read. Also, there is no use of any literary devices, further adding to that lower level impression. The predictable identities of the characters make them easy to follow and interpret. This basic writing style allows reading “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” to be enjoyable. That being said, it is not something that I would expect to read in school.

Doyle’s short story is not hindered in any sense because it is not a traditional work of literature. Literature itself is also not affected by this story. This is because “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” was never intended to be literature. The fact that it was written for a different purpose keeps this story in the leisure category rather than being a failed work of literature. The success of the Sherlock Holmes series is a testament to the lucrative nature of leisure stories and the series itself.

Theodore’s Job

The movie Her is set in a fast paced, advanced, and mechanized society. The urban landscape of the setting combined with a high population density make daily life in the film appear to be rushed and chaotic. These factors lead to a general sentiment of detachment and disillusionment.

The general spirit of dispassion can be qualified through the profession of Theodore, the main character in the movie. Theodore works as a writer at the Beautiful Handwritten Letters Company. In his role, he writes personal letters on behalf of his clients. Theodore has developed a relationship with many of his customers, as he has written so many letters for them over the years. In some instances, he even knows certain intimate details of his clients’ relationships.

Writing letters to loved ones on their special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, graduations, and other notable events is a very personal and intimate affair. The hiring of an outside service to write such letters represents an increased insecurity of intimate relationships and the breakdown of the personal connections. This letter service is a concrete example of the general erosion of engagement between humans that is happening among all people in the film.

The introduction of the “OS” further fosters this detachment and lack of connections. People prefer to interact with machinery over human beings once the system becomes widespread. That being said, the intrinsic societal conditions in the movie lay groundwork for this transition.

Therefore, the purpose of Theodore having the job that he does is to cement idea that the priority of life is efficiency and convenience rather than the sacrifices and effort that are necessary in a human relationship. In the film, the connections between people are not substantial and tools like this letter service enforce the idea that love and care for others are really just a façade.

            Viewers of the movie are expected to be angered by the Beautiful Handwritten Letters Company. This is because in the real world, most people are unable to quantify the value of the connections that they share with others. The thought of paying for a service that builds and maintains connections is ludicrous and incomprehensible to most people. This anger serves a purpose. It highlights just how different the conditions of the society in the film are from reality. As such, the elicitation of an emotion is used here to clarify and emphasize the contrasts of norms that are in the movie from the norms that viewers value so highly.

 

 

Works Cited

Her. Dir. Spike Jonze. Perf. Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, and Scarlett Johansson. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2013. DVD.

Revision: Uncreative Writing

Your love of the unexplored, the innovative, and the creative is overused and uninspiring. You love the brand new and hate the existing. Regardless of the context, you insist that what we write be different from anything that is already out there. I say that it is time to rethink this philosophy. Of course you are stuck in your old ways. Of course you believe the current method is the only method but it is time to welcome to something new.

We must welcome what Kenneth Goldsmith calls “Uncreative Writing”, an unconventional yet pragmatic approach to writing. The beauty of this philosophy is that it does away with the roadblocks. There is no frustration due to a lack of ideas or ambiguity on the best way to express those ideas that are so difficult to come up with.

Instead, the legwork for this process is in the actual research for sources. There is in fact an element of creativity in this “uncreative” writing. For example, “uncreative writing” requires us to be resourceful in not only the search for sources, but also in the selection and compilation of those sources. We must be able to effectively extract and combine certain parts of existing works and then merge that selection with other completely different works in a harmonious way. Thinking about this process is actually somewhat extraordinary. In traditional methods, we design a work from the ground up with a specific vision. We are able to alter the trajectory of our work in any way that we see fit. On the other hand, in the “uncreative” process, we still have a vision but must first fragment existing visions and trajectories, and then combine them using a very minimal amount of glue. The end result is our personal vision made from the vision of others.

This technique is the ultimate literary expression of modernity and innovation. In the world we live in today, we are constantly being flooded with ideas and information from a wide variety of mediums. Traditionally, we temporarily acquire such ideas and information and then maybe reflect on it. Ultimately, though, we usually end up discarding this new knowledge. This process allows us to repurpose this information that would otherwise go to waste. This is similar to the concept of recycling. When you recycle a can, the can is not simply discarded and wasted, but its strong core properties allow it to reborn into something new. The recycling of both existing literary works and cans represents maximum efficiency as you reutilize an existing resource multiple times instead of creating new resources to fulfill the same quantity of functions.

While the idea of “uncreative” writing is very new and unfamiliar for you, it is important that you keep an open mind. We have been forced to be creative (in the traditional sense) for too long to the point where we are fed up with it. Although you may consider using the ideas of other people to be sacrilegious, it is also progressive. Regardless of where you stand on the idea, it is imperative to remain open to experimentation in order to promote further development of the literary arts.

Pregnancy in Pillow Talk

In the movie Pillow Talk, the motif of pregnancy is developed through two different characters: Jan and Brad. Jan works as an interior designer and comes off as innocent, yet attractive. On the other hand, Brad Allen works as a songwriter and manifests himself as a playboy. Despite their remarkable differences, it is through both of these characters are the means by which the idea of pregnancy is surfaced.

Before actually getting to pregnancy, it is important to consider the historical context. As this film was released in October of 1959, it reflects much of the ideology and practices of the 1950s. One main trend that was associated with this time period was conformity. Americans at this time had an image of what was “normal” and most people tried to mirror that image. The newly widespread visibility of the television helped promote these norms. One can see elements of this obsession with conformity in the way people dressed, the cars they drove, and the houses they lived in.

Conformity in the 1950s extended beyond material goods. People during this time period shared many of the same beliefs. One specific area in which people agreed upon was family values. There was a high value on family stability and people tried to adhere to traditional values as closely as possible in order to achieve that stability. One source of evidence was that divorce rates dropped and birth rates rose. It can be said that pregnancy and divorce have an inverse relationship. This trend definitely indicates family solidarity rather than divergence. Similarly, people in the 1950s valued the maintenance of traditional gender roles. Men were to work outside the house and provide for the family while women were to handle all domestic duties.

The idea of pregnancy in Pillow Talk reflects larger social beliefs of the era. The first instance in which pregnancy is mentioned is when Jan goes to visit the telephone company’s office. She complains about having to share the party line with Brad and inquires about getting a private line installed. The company tells her that they only give out private lines to people with special circumstances. Jan asks about which circumstances would warrant that and they tell her being pregnant is the most common way to get a private line. The fact that the telephone company is willing to give special privilege to pregnant women underscores society’s value on having children at the time.

A second instance in which pregnancy surfaces in the movie is when Brad steps into the obstetrician’s office. He tells the receptionist he needs to see the doctor immediately and she is left extremely confused. The doctor and receptionist try to track Brad down to see if there are undiscovered frontiers in Science. Brad dismisses their curiosity by not thinking about the situation but rather the fact that men can’t get pregnant. Brad’s attitude thus is a reflection on the rigid gender roles of the time. Both instances where pregnancy appears reflect larger social trends of the time period.

Goldsmith’s “Uncreative Writing” Class

Kenneth Goldsmith’s “Uncreative Writing” class is extremely intriguing to me because it manages to be both highly unconventional, yet also highly pragmatic. As I do not consider myself to be a creative person in general, this class is perfect for me because I do not have to wrestle with any of the struggles I regularly face during the writing process. This means that I will have not have to grapple with a lack of ideas or ambiguity on the best way to express those ideas that I have such a hard time coming up with.

Instead, the legwork for this class is in the actual research for sources. There is in fact an element of creativity in this “uncreative” writing class. This class requires its students to be resourceful in not only the search for sources, but also in the selection and compilation of those sources. Students must be able to effectively extract and combine certain parts of existing works and then merge that selection with other completely different works in a harmonious way.

Thinking about this process is actually somewhat extraordinary. In traditional writing, the writer designs a work from that ground up with a specific vision. He is able to adjust the trajectory of his work in any way he sees fit. On the other hand, in the “uncreative” process, the writer still has a vision but must first fragment existing visions and trajectories, and then combine them using a very minimal amount of glue. The end result is one’s personal vision made from the vision of others.

As I already mentioned, I could not agree more that this class is the ultimate literary expression of modernity and innovation. In the world we live in today, we are constantly being flooded with ideas and information from a wide variety of mediums. Traditionally, we temporarily acquire such ideas and information and then maybe reflect on it. Ultimately, though, we usually end up discarding this new knowledge. Goldsmith’s class allows young people to repurpose this information that would otherwise go to waste. This is similar to the concept of recycling. When one recycles a can, the can is not simply discarded and wasted, but its strong core properties allow it to reborn into something new. The recycling of both existing literary works and cans represents maximum efficiency as you reutilize an existing resource multiple times instead of creating new resources to fulfill the same quantity of functions.

Another appeal of Goldsmith’s class is that is just so different to anything I have done before. Throughout my educational life, I have always been forced to create my own ideas. I have been creative too much and for too long to the point where I can honestly say that I am a little sick of it. Using the ideas of other people is both refreshing and rewarding. As with most things, an update to a traditional practice is can be sacrilegious and progressive at the same time. Still, I am willing to forego the respect of creating your own work for the efficiency of repurposing somebody else’s.