Historical Ad Analysis: Microwaves

Today, most homeowners  know to buy microwaves. They speed up the cooking process greatly and broaden the array of foods that homeowners can make as some foods are now produced specifically for microwave cooking. Taking a moment to consider popular products advertised, I realized that I’ve never seen a microwave ad. However, this was not always the case and the understanding to buy a microwave did not always exist. A few decades ago, manufacturers advertised their microwave appliances in order to sell their novel products.

Ward-Elkins specifically markets their Amana Radarange microwaves. The advertisement that I looked at, a billboard, takes a simplistic approach. It only displays the most important information and does so boldly. The product, a microwave, is named in a large, eye-catching font. It is paired with an image of the product on the right. However, the image appears somewhat cartoonish, not an actual photograph. I think this is a daring move of Ward-Elkins to make. Customers like to see exactly what they are buying so that they can ensure its credibility and aesthetic appeal. Ward-Elkins then writes the company name in the bottom left corner. The color of the font, yellow, stands out against the blue and brown hues of the rest of the billboard. Their decision to use such a scheme makes sense because ultimately, the company wants to sell itself. Lastly, and arguably most importantly, the price is listed in large letters right underneath the product image. Price can often be the “make or break” factor in a consumer’s decision to buy a product. By clearly displaying the microwave price, the advertisement gives viewers a straightforward reason to purchase (or not purchase) the microwave. In this advertisement, Ward-Elkins uses a simple color scheme and only includes the four most important characteristics of the product on the billboard. It uses large and bold fonts to catch the eyes of people driving by the billboard, which is raised high off the road. The advertisement assumes that viewers know microwaves’ function. It doesn’t’ list the dimensions of the microwave either, which could be important for people who have limited counter space. I think the nature of the ad—a billboard that potential customers stare at for five seconds as they approach and drive past it—calls for the company to only include extremely necessary information and communicate such information with as few words as possible. Including too many longer phrases would not allow the viewer to take everything in. The advertisement makes the product appear flashy, with the shadow effect of the word “microwave,” and affordable, with the price proudly displayed. I think that Ward-Elkins created a successful billboard advertisement.

Another billboard advertisement that I chose to analyze markets a microwave sold by Whirlpool.  Similarly to the Ward-Elkins advertisement, this billboard uses large, bold fonts and incudes very little information conveyed in extremely short phrases. A picture of the microwave takes up the left side of the billboard. Then, on the right, the ad markets the product as small and compact, stating that it “fits any kitchen!” This is important because one feature of microwaves that people enjoy is their small size. Lastly, the advertisement names the product and company. The billboard is extremely objective, with only a picture, vague description, and company/product name. Analyzing the description of size some more, I think it’s ironic that Whirlpool includes this phrase. Companies try to avoid making broad generalizations in fear that some customer will not have the aforementioned experience, and then the company gets in trouble. However, ignoring the fact that the company perhaps should not have said this, I think the rhetoric is extremely successful. Their claim that the microwave will fit in any space sells the product to almost anyone with a space for it. People who might be turned away from buying large appliances will not feel that way about the Whirlpool microwave. One important part of consumerism is not included on the advertisement—the price. This is unlike the Ward-Elkins advertisement. The Raytheon microwave advertisement does not name a price either.  By not including the price, Whirlpool forces any interested customer to investigate the ad further. Then, while perusing the Whirlpool catalogue, customers are further exposed to the products. In this sense, the billboard begins an extended advertising process. On the other hand, people might not care enough or remember to research the product further if they aren’t positive that they can afford it. The only way to positively ensure that viewers could afford the product is to include the price on the ad.

Raytheon Manufacturing Company publishes an advertisement that markets literal microwaves. It’s futuristic in a sense; it strikes me as “sci-fi,” yet it also grounds itself in the past. It mentions the “Yucca Flat atomic explosion.” Very few advertisements would reference the Hydrogen bomb, especially when such ads are trying to sell something that could be used every day (television sets and radar magnetron sets). The bomb, traditionally associated with feelings of fear and violence, takes an aggressive stance in marketing microwaves to the public, explaining how microwaves can help communicate even the “most powerful” images or help cure patients in hospitals, taking a beneficiary perspective. I am surprised that the advertisement would make its biggest image be a bomb explosion for the disturbed emotions it may initiate. However, the image conforms to the text’s ethos. The advertisement is interesting in that it appears to sell the literal microwaves more than the kitchen appliance specifically. The advertisement assumes that customers want to stay up-to-date on the news. The advertisement that consumers should buy into Raytheon Microwaves because they deliver fast, sharp, and a “ringside seat” experience for important news. In a decade when the world made great scientific leaps and took part in global affairs, staying abreast of the news was necessary. (And it still is today—imagine having no access to any news source!) Yet the advertisement also recognizes the people who prefer to watch football and spend more time focusing on what’s going on in their personal lives. Raytheon mentions the fact that the microwaves come in compact units. Raytheon appeals to people with all types of interests in order to sell them their microwave units. Lastly, Raytheon includes a “Guaranteed by Good Housekeeping” stamp to give the television an additional stamp of credible approval.

Each of these advertisements makes a bold move and includes things that the other advertisements do not. The Ward-Elkins advertisement does not include a real picture of the product. Instead, it includes lots of vital facts about the product. In addition, of the three advertisements I studied, this is the only one to mention a price.  The Whirlpool advertisement includes an appealing, yet broad, claim. It shows a picture of the product. Also, similarly to the Ward-Elkins billboard, the advertisement assumes that people know microwaves’ use. The Raytheon advertisement mentions the hydrogen bomb, a precarious topic. However, it uses includes two real pictures of the products it wants to sell.  This ad was published in TIME Magazine. Therefore, it warrants more text since people flip through magazines to read stories. On the other hand, the other two advertisements appeared on billboards. For this reason, they stick to using as few words as possible and flashy images and text.  Each advertisement uses characteristics of advertising and design that fit well with the space on which the advertisement is displayed. Although microwaves and their ads have since been updated, these advertisements’ rhetoric is successful in continuously selling the products. After all, almost everyone now owns or has easy access to a microwave.

Works Cited:

  • Ward-Elkins. “Microwaves” [SLA0417]. Advertisement. 1983. Duke University Rare Book and Manuscript Library. OAAA Slide Library. Web. 23 Nov. 2014.
  • “Fits any kitchen! Whirlpool Microwave ovens” [SLA3880].  Advertisement. 1984. Duke University Rare Book and Manuscript Library. OAAA Slide Library. Web. 23 Nov. 2014.
  • Raytheon Manufacturing Company. “TV spot news—by Raytheon Microwave” [TV0282]. Advertisement. Time 1953: Duke University Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Ad*Access. Web. 23 Nov. 2014.

Food Connoisseurs

With #foodstagrams, restaurant trips, and late-night snacking, I have a hard time imagining a life without food. Lizzie Widdicombe wrote about Rob Rhinehart who did just that—imagined a life without food. Rhinehart took his dream one step further, actually eliminating food from his diet. Rhinehart became a connoisseur of Soylent. He created this concoction of nutrients, oil, salt, and water as a way to provide sustenance to his body without having to spend large amounts of money on groceries. Instead, he purchased minerals and vitamins in raw/powder form and blended them into a sustaining drink. Rhinehart succeeded in being “one who knows” because he found out the most basic nutrients one needs for life and created a way to get them in a way that works for his budget and lifestyle. Widdicombe illustrates Rhinehart’s discovery as being one that he did for self-betterment. He studied human nutritional needs because he wanted to, and he trained himself to create, and later sell, Soylent on his own.

This article is particularly interesting me to because I am interested in nutrition and healthy eating. I would consider myself aware of what I eat. I half-think about nutrients—I enjoy eating “real” food over processed food, but I don’t turn away baked goods. I also couldn’t imagine not eating food. Some of the comments on Widdicombe’s article criticize his diet for not allowing his stomach and jaws to work. Reading these comments and really thinking that Rhinehart is just drinking his basic nutrients makes me see him as less of a connoisseur. I’m curious to know how healthy Soylent really is for his body. (Although, Rhinehart does claim that he’s the healthiest he’d ever been.) I would usually think that connoisseurs attract a following. Widdicombe describes people who find interest in Soylent. However, Soylent hasn’t become a national eating regimen. For these reasons, and through writing this post, I have begun to see Rhinehart as less of a connoisseur.

Fuller writes about Yingluck Shinawatra whom I would completely characterize as a connoisseur of Thai food. Fuller’s descriptions of the extreme care with which Shinawatra takes in creating her machine to detect real, authentic Thai food tells me that Shinawatra truly cares about Thai food, knows what good Thai food tastes like, and settles only for the best quality. These are characteristics that I would expect any connoisseur to have about her specality, and therefore Shinawatra fits perfectly into that category.

Communication Apps

For this blog post, I looked around on Lauren McCarthy’s apps’ websites. I read about each app and watched the demo videos. In addition, I looked up reviews of each app. Both of these apps allow people to connect and interact while, ironically, doing less work. Crowdpilot allows the user to talk to friends about a conversation that she is currently having and receive ideas about what to say in the current conversation. The user connects with the person to whom she is speaking in real life without having to pay attention to the conversation and think of what to say—she leaves the work to her friends who are reading the conversation through the app. Users of Inneract post an update about something they want, and other people using the app can read the updates and find the original poster. This app follows my original conclusion of these two apps because users are able to connect with people around them by simply posting a status—the user doesn’t have to make an effort to talk to and connect with people around her. For example, in the demo video, a girl comes up and holds hands with a guy who has posted that he wants to hold hands without speaking. Before this app, people would have to verbally speak to someone and build a strong enough relationship that warrants holding hands. However, with this new app, people don’t have to work on these connections. Crowdpilot essentially works the same way—people don’t have to form relationships on their own anymore.

These apps make me rethink my everyday conversations with strangers. I trust that my friends aren’t sending our conversations to a third party and getting feedback (also, I can see their phones on the table, and they aren’t using this app). If I were out with a stranger who was constantly on his phone, I might be cautious of the fact that he might using Crowdpilot. Honestly, I would hope that no one uses these apps. I don’t think they foster healthy relationships. Real life human interaction is at the basis of our civilization, and nothing should compromise that. People are supposed to talk. We are becoming too dependent on our phones, and I wish we weren’t moving in that direction.

We have to be more cautious with our interactions. These apps prove that even face to face interactions sometimes have additional, virtual sources listening in. Digitial interactions are even more risky. Even with the ability to screenshot texts, nothing that you say online is safe from anyone else. Everyone has to reconsider how communication occurs. Many people might be hearing your conversation even though you’re only looking (or texting with) one person.

I am a dedicated Instagram user, and, although I hate it, Facebook user. Both of these social networking apps differ from McCarthy’s  apps because Instagram and Facebook ensure that you know who you are talking to. Although fake accounts occur, for the most part, you are in control of who can see your profile. You have to accept a friend request and have the ability to accept or deny Instagram followers. These sites are more transparent than McCarthy’s apps.

Tactility (10/31 post)

Seeing as this week is “Halloweek” most people around the nation are getting ready to dress up, basically changing themselves into another character or object. Halloween parties are also a must. I remember at a Halloween party in sixth grade, the host had us reach our hand into different bags to touch “zombie body parts.” We felt his “guts” and his “eyes” and his “blood.” In reality, we were touching cooked spaghetti, peeled grapes, and tomato sauce. These are three foods that I would happily eat at any time of day and none of which gross me out. However, in the moment that I stuck my hand into the three separate bags, I didn’t know WHAT I was feeling. The peeled grapes especially freaked and grossed me out.  Tactility is an odd sense because it relies a lot on the brain’s ability to discern what it’s touching. When tactility is isolated, as it is in the case of the “zombie body parts” activity, discerning the objects becomes even harder.

Tactility goes hand in hand with sight. Seeing what you touch can help you make sense of what you’re feeling. When I first felt the food, it all felt disgusting. However, after realizing what it was, I no longer felt that way. Along with sight, our touch perceptions are also influenced by background knowledge. Proprioception “focuses on the cognitive awareness of the body in space.” This cognitive awareness comes from combining multiple senses to create a detailed image or idea of what you’re touching. Relying on tactility alone is not a good strategy when trying to learn the most about something.

I’ve heard that when one of your senses fails to work, the rest of your senses become stronger and more acute. This makes me believe that tactility can potentially become stronger and no longer rely on other senses to accurately represent whatever it is you’re feeling.


The Importance of Research (10/24 post)

The college process. The dreaded yet exciting part of every high school junior and senior’s life. As a junior, I spent hours upon hours studying for the SAT. The PSAT, SAT subject tests, and AP tests had their time, too. As spring break approached, I was ready to start thinking about what schools I wanted to tour. It was time to research. I knew I wanted something in warm weather, but that was about it. With no idea of my potential major, I had a hard time narrowing down my options by strong departments. Instead, I focused on size, location, academic integrity, and a few other characteristics that I cared about. I procrastinated my homework by googling college after college. I think I’ve looked at too many “fast facts” pages on college websites, but they helped me decide that southern California was my ideal location. I also used my parents and college counselor as resources, asking them their opinions on which schools could potentially be a good fit for me.

A few weeks later, my dad and I boarded a plane to San Diego. With seven tours on the itinerary, we had a long five days in San Diego and Los Angeles ahead of us. On each tour, I kept a mental list of all the things that stood out to me and all of the things that I didn’t like. When the tour was over, my dad and I would “debrief” usually over a meal in the main student cafeteria. I valued his opinion on the schools just as much as I valued my own. I kept a journal of my opinions on every school I visited (and continued to use the journal on the few other college tours I attended later). I made sure to take every brochure that the admissions office displayed. I probably went a little overboard with that, especially considering that I ended up recycling most of the brochures. The information sessions, tour guides, and journal entries all helped me consider my options and form opinions, but the most important piece of research was my immediate reaction to the campus. When I walked onto the campus, I made a note of how I felt. Could I see myself here? Did I like the people that I encountered? These subjective facts are what I thought about the most. I soon recognized that I was hooked on a couple of the schools that I saw, and I was especially hooked on going to school in L.A. The California trip ended with me feeling like I knew a lot more about what I wanted.

I still had a long time until I had to decide where I wanted to apply so why not see a few more schools? My college counselor recommended Emory University. Once again, my Calc homework could wait—I had to google this school that I knew nothing about. The website’s information seemed assuring. I also talked to some people from my high school who are at Emory and got their opinion on the transition, similarities to my high school, and overall experience. Everything sounded like something I might like, so I registered for a tour, and a few weeks later, my mom and I were standing in the Atlanta airport waiting for a taxi to take us to Emory. The day whizzed by. Paying attention to my initial feelings, I took in everything I saw. I ended the day feeling excited and confused—I liked Emory more than I liked the California schools, but I loved California. However, my gut reaction told me that Emory was the school to which I should apply ED. And that’s exactly what I did.

Validity in the “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box”

When I think of “typical” English class literature, I think of Romeo and Juliet, The Great Gatsby, or To Kill a Mockingbird. Like we discussed in class, it includes few literary devices and lacks the controlled tone of the plays and novels that I listed above. We impose these criteria based on our previous knowledge with literature. “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” wouldn’t come to my mind nor do I think that its style is similar to what I previously mentioned. In this sense, the notion of literature that I’ve absorbed has limited my first opinion. However, after talking about the short story in class and thinking about this blog post, I realized that I do still consider “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” to be literature.

At my high school, seniors choose from an array of English class electives including Sixties Protest Literature or Banned Books. The classes read literature tailored to their themes. In my class, Sixties Protest Literature, we read books that were unlike things we had read in the previous years of high school.  For example, Armies of the Night by Normal Mailer was written with an extremely conversational tone, and Mailer often trailed off on tangents, ended sentences preemptively, or changed topics quickly. I had never read a book in this style, and it is not written in a style that I would consider “scholarly.” I think of it as literature, as it does have characters and a plot, but I don’t categorize it with the traditional literature that I expect to study in school. Students in the Banned Books class read books that are traditionally banned from the classroom due to a variety of reasons. Although governments and officials consider these books negative and possible not even literature, other people can look at them with a critical eye and analyze their importance, thus again proving the multiple styles of literature.

I think the main goal of literature is for the author to create and communicate a story so that readers understand the plot. Arthur Conan Doyle accomplished this task. In my art history class, we asked the question “what is art? What makes art “art”?” And we concluded that art is art because the artist said so. Similarly, I think that literature is literature because the author says so. Doyle’s short story clearly doesn’t conform to the guidelines of traditional literature, but that does not make Doyle any less erudite or venerable. Instead, readers should approach this story as a chance to experience a new style of literature.

The Sandman and Her (10/3 Post)

Nathaniel from The Sandman and Theodore from Her both fall into a unique relationship in their respective stories. In addition, each protagonist finds himself toying with opposite emotions almost simultaneously, and the juxtaposition creates a character who lives on-edge with a distressed personality.

The Sandman deals with Nathaniel’s perception of a monstrous creature, “the sandman,” who is said to take out the eyes of children that don’t go to sleep. In the beginning of the story, Nathaniel comes across as calm and curious. He wants to know what the Sandman looks like, but he doesn’t think anything about him will be scary. He “compose[s] [himself] so that [he] may calmly and patiently” describe the encounters he’s had with the Sandman (Hoffman 86). As a young child, he had “an irresistible urge” to discover what the myserious Sandman looked like (Hoffman 88). And then, once he quietly crept into his father’s study, he was overcome with “horror and alarm” at this “hateful, spectral monster” (Hoffman 89).  From this point on, Nathaniel lives his life in constant fear. His unease affects many aspects of his life. His relationship with Clara becomes negative, with Clara thinking that Nathaniel is crazy. In addition, he falls in love with Olimpia, a robot. The opposite emotions that Nathaniel has follow him to this relationship. His “heartfelt rapture” pushes Nathaniel to fall more in love with Olimipia, but he also realizes “how entirely passive and taciturn” she was (Hoffman 112-113). Nathaniel concludes his story with him waking up from a dream feeling healthy and strong yet at the same time “tormented [and] self-divided” (Hoffman 118). Nathaniel’s mind is full of contradicting feelings that cause him to transform from an innocent child to a distraught man.

Theodore from the movie Her also deals with tough emotional conflict. When a sex surrogate Isabella comes to Theodore’s apartment to act as the physical Samantha, Theodore can’t decide how to feel. Part of him clearly wants to love Samantha and engage in an intimate, physical relationship. However, he also hesitates before doing this. His movements are awkward, and Isabella ends up guiding their time.  Theodore clearly looks uncomfortable during this scene despite talking to Samantha. In addition, Theodore struggles with getting over his divorce and falling in love with an operating system. He doesn’t want to actually sign the divorce papers even though he clearly likes Samantha. On top of these relationships, Theodore goes on a date with a woman whom he dated in college and how happens to be married. Theodore enjoys spending time with Samantha; it makes him happy. However, the confusion from the other relationships hinders him from enjoying talking to Samantha.

Both characters have a strong relationship with a woman whom isn’t actually alive. This, coupled with the crazy encounters that they have, lead Nathaniel and Theodore on an emotional roller coaster throughout the story and movie, respectively.

Hoffman, E. T. A. “The Sandman.” The Golden Pot and Other Tales. Trans. Ritchie Robertson. London: Oxford, 1992. 85-118. PDF file.

My Life on Facebook (9/28 post)

When I got back from sleepaway camp the summer before 8th grade, I begged my parents to allow me to make a Facebook, and they agreed. I was connected with the world. I had so much fun choosing a profile picture and customizing my wall.

Google chrome. www.f. Enter. Type log in information. Enter. It’s rote movement. Wasting time, scrolling down my news feed, staring at pictures, and reading trivial comments. This is a motion that I, along with many other teens I’m sure, know all too well. And what’s the point of it? Why do I need to stare at pictures of my acquaintances and their roommates? I shouldn’t be subjected to ugly selfies of myself that a friend has tagged me in.

In the beginning, my friend count increased daily. I was having the best time reliving my summer memories through the endless camp Facebook albums that everyone was uploading to his and her accounts. It was like the summer never ended! Except that I was in my bedroom alone instead of surrounded by my eighteen best friends in bunk G-5.  But still, it was FACEBOOK.

I hated these boring Facebook motions. I disabled by Facebook account from September 2012 to August 2013. I was liberated from the world. I could focus on school and actually talking to my friends instead of living through their pictures. I loved my social-media free life. I had rejected a social norm, something that I oddly enjoy doing. You should try disabling your Facebook account. Do it for a day. Then a week. Then eleven months.

Finally my parents allowed me to friend people whom I knew from home. My news feed got more diverse, and I got more obsessed, I could see what my school friends were doing all the time, even if it sometimes meant looking at pictures from a dinner that I wasn’t invited to. But I didn’t care…I had over 300 Facebook friends! Success! At least by ninth grade standards. This great website allowed me to stay connected with so many people and stay updated on their lives.

In August 2013, I went to India with 12 other girls in my grade. I couldn’t wait to get home, upload my pictures to Facebook, and look through the pictures that the other girls on my trip took. I reactivated my Facebook in August for the sole purpose of connecting with the people from my trip. I also stalked myself and “cleaned up” my wall, removing tags and unfriending acquaintances.  I wanted to use my Facebook as a way to communicate with people who are important to me, not as a way to share my life updates. Currently, I still think of Facebook in this way—that it’s more a necessary communication tool than a social media site like Twitter or Instagram. When senior year started, I began using Facebook more to see what colleges my classmates had chosen, and when I was accepted to Emory, to connect with my new classmates and find a roommate. I still post very little.

I want to find a balance between creating a “good” online image without going overboard or under board. I want to find a balance between loving Facebook and hating Facebook.

“Touch Someone” response (9/19 post)

“Touch Someone” intrigued me. I remember learning about the history of the telephone in middle school briefly, but I learned about it from a purely technological perspective. This article made me think about the audiences that use telephones and how functionality influences advertisements. I never considered that the telephone had once been used for business and important message instead of sociability. Since coming to Emory about three weeks ago, I have used my phone for social reasons way more than I did over the summer or in high school. Now, I text my college friends asking if they want to get food or hang out. I text and Facetime with my high school friends for social reasons—I want to stay in touch and hear their college stories. And I call my family to chat. Without my phone, I would be a less social person. Saying that makes me sound, I think, extremely shallow—how can an iPhone, arguably a social media device itself, make me social? Shouldn’t I be talking to the 7,000 undergrads around me? Isn’t that the way to be social? Probably, yes. But I can’t deny that I need my phone to help me be social. Phones today have become much more advanced than what they were in the late 19th century, and their functions have also changed.

My mother has been teaching nursery school for over 15 years. Not a week goes by without her telling me and my sister at least one story about her “cute, little 3-year-olds.” I’ve heard stories about quiet kids who barely talk to anyone in the beginning of the school year. My mom helps these kids feel comfortable around people and in a new environment. She teaches them to interact with their classmates and make friends, something essential in everyone’s life. My mom also tells me stories about students who are violent to other classmates. In this case, it is important for my mom to help them learn how to act kindly towards others. This is necessary for making future friends and earning respect. Pre-school is a place where children learn the foundations of many life skills. One cannot create a strong circle of friends if he/she doesn’t talk or keep a friendly persona. I think that pre-school social and emotional programs succeed the majority of the time because I’ve heard that most of my mom’s students have greatly matured during just one year. In the cases where the students need additional guidance, there are more specialized child-development teachers.

In the case of the telephone, the public must learn to take something they know (a telegraph or a phone for business use) and change their methods. In the case of attending nursery school, the children are taught basic communication skills with little to no background knowledge.  However, in both cases, the telephone advertisements and nursery school teachers show people new ways to interact and remain social as they grow up.