Archive for October, 2011

Hip, White Men with iPhones

By Jean Grow

This post originally appeared on ‘Cultural Geography’ blog during Dr. Grow’s summer 2011 trip to Italy.

'Cannes Lions' signIt has been a few months since Cannes. I needed time to think. This was my first visit to Cannes, but not my first to advertising awards shows. I’ve been in and around the ad industry for years. In the end, I think, awards shows are awards shows. They may get bigger and more expensive and express a global venue – but little changes.

Hip. Casual chic was everywhere in the same timeless way advertising hip has been demonstrated for years – jeans and tee shirts with funky shoes. Of course, as it was Cannes and so the optional khaki shorts and sandals appeared. Youth, the iconic marker of hip, was also abundantly apparent and, as usual, encouraged by the excessive flow of alcohol. Hip translated smoothly from people to images and ideas. But, this too was not new. Youthful hip is a perennially postmodern phenomenon bred within and well articulated by advertising.

White. For as global as our world has become the advertising images were inherently western, even if the agencies were from Singapore or San Paolo. In print small logos, resting quietly in the lower right corner, with minimal copy along side small headlines and dominant visuals predominated – just as they have for years. There were winners from Brazil and India, and China snagged its first gold lion, but most were from global multi-national agencies who have moved into emerging markets anxious to help spread global capitalism. Despite the diversity of winners almost everyone was a polished hip western, “white.” For a global marketplace it was discouraging to see such homogenous blending of constructed shades of white.

Men. They were everywhere, just like in the agency world where they make-up virtually 80 percent of all creative departments. The judging panels continued to play out the 80/20 game – perpetuating a style and a way of working that is defined by masculinity and not by the people who make the lion’s share of consumption choices – women. The surprise, though it should not have been, was the “New Directors Showcase,” with 17 new directors – all men, if my memory serves me correctly. Here too history repeated itself with hyper-masculine imagery of boyhood remembered, violence, and sex, with a few rare exceptions. Of the 17 directors only five featured female characters and of that four were sophomoric and sexualized representations. The greatest differentiating factor was the dazzling technological executions.

iPhones. Make that iEverything. This group of influencers is infatuated with all things Apple. This too, is not a surprise. Millward Brown, in its annual valuation of global brands, named Apple number one – by a mile. Apple’s change in value from 2010 to 2011 was 84, nearly 4 times greater than its nearest competitor (McDonalds). Its brand value was nearly 50 percent higher than the number-two brand (Google). Apple has become the iconic symbol of hip and the ultimate technological tool for social connection – embraced with gusto by advertisers as they chase after consumers driving social change through technology.

This seems a story with a predetermined ending. Apple makes the products that enables creatives to make creative executions, while creatives embrace the products that Apple makes. Which takes me back to where I began. Hip, white men create advertising, which (ironically) speaks to hip white men – who award hip, white men  – who hire hip, white men – who…

Jean Grow is an Associate Professor of Advertising in the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University. All photographs copyright Jean Grow.

Going to the Middle East? Or China? Or Uganda?

By Jim Scotton

I’ve been thinking of going back to the Middle East to do some research for a possible book on the Middle East media. These days (October of 2011) my family is not too enthusiastic. We’ve all lived there before (Cairo and Beirut) and never had a problem. I have also lived myself in countries where there was coup going on or there just had been and again, no problems. Foreigners are generally ignored by revolutionaries! But there does seem to be a lot of shooting going on there in several countries. If I wear a sign saying “ACADEMIC” on my back will I be safer? A lot of those who are shooting may be students!

Just how much should an academic risk for the sake of being an academic. Perhaps a nice research project involving media coverage of Ms. America contests in Atlantic City might be better – safer, too, since “Boardwalk Empire” is set in the distant past.

But I’d rather get away from it all for a while so I really want to continue doing some research overseas. My co-author is also eager to keep going in the international area. So we’ve been thinking of perhaps China. That’s a peaceful place but the problem I’ve found there is that the place can be so fascinating that I do not get much work done. The family and I spent two nearly years in Shanghai and just found it difficult to get away from all the attractions. As some people say,  “Very little crime there but lots of vice!”  Shanghai, in short, can be described as Chicago on steroids.

Then there is Africa. I’ve had an Africa project on the back burner so to speak for decades and perhaps this is the time to do it. I even have family there since we have a Ugandan foster daughter and her numerous brothers and sisters (five!) whom we put through school are still there. And Kampala, where I would do most of my work, has about the best climate you could ask for – perpetual spring since it sits on the Equator but is 4,500 feet above sea level.

Ah, the academic’s dilemma! Anyone got any travel money???

Jim Scotton is a professor of Journalism in the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University. 

Remembering a Visionary

By Jennifer Janviere

Steve Jobs photo

Photo of Steve Jobs (source: Apple.com website)

Like many other people around the world, I was saddened by last week’s news of the death of Apple founder and leader Steve Jobs. Jobs left a legacy of innovation that inspired both artists and technophiles alike.

As the head of Apple, Jobs helped streamline technology in a way that integrated it into every part of everyday life. The company created not only innovative products but revolutionary business models for consuming media that changed the nature of how we buy music, watch movies and even communicate. Apple computers, tablets, phones and MP3 players are a staple of not just designers and artists but many students, educators and households as well. Continue reading ‘Remembering a Visionary’

Smart Phones and Smart Journalism

By Herbert Lowe

Smart phone keyboard, close upMy Digital Journalism II students are learning how to use multimedia to enhance their storytelling this semester. So the excellent daylong training session offered downtown on September 28 could not have been more timely – or helpful in terms of revealing relevant mobile resources and tips.

Five Diederich College colleagues – Karen Slattery, Gee Ekachai, Steve Byers, Linda Menck and Carole Burns – joined me at the “Smart Phones, Smart Journalism Workshop,” presented by the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) and the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute. More than 75 people, including many working journalists, joined us at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for the event. Val Hoeppner, the institute’s director of education and a multimedia guru, led the way by masterfully teaching how to use mobile technology better and faster. Continue reading ‘Smart Phones and Smart Journalism’